The reason that the rich were so rich, Vimes reasoned, was because they managed to spend less money.
Take boots, for example. He earned thirty-eight dollars a month plus allowances. A really good pair of leather boots cost fifty dollars. But an affordable pair of boots, which were sort of OK for a season or two and then leaked like hell when the cardboard gave out, cost about ten dollars. Those were the kind of boots Vimes always bought, and wore until the soles were so thin that he could tell where he was in Ankh-Morpork on a foggy night by the feel of the cobbles.
But the thing was that good boots lasted for years and years. A man who could afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that'd still be keeping his feet dry in ten years' time, while the poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots in the same time and would still have wet feet.
This was the Captain Samuel Vimes "Boots" theory of socioeconomic unfairness.
It's not just theft that drives down profitability at supermarkets in poor areas. It's also the fact that poor people tend to buy cheaper foods, and thus the supermarket makes less profit. Poor folks aren't going to buy $12-a-pound steaks or pricey microbrews.
Each form the taxpayer needed carried a fee: $41 for a 1040, $10 for an EIC (the Earned Income Credit), $1 for each W-2, and so on. Electronic filing cost another $25. So a simple return with two W-2s filed electronically would run $78. But it didn’t stop there. Block had a smorgasbord of services for people who lived on the edge. If you had no bank account, your refund could be loaded onto an ATM card that charged $2 per withdrawal. Or a temporary account could be opened into which the IRS payment could be deposited for a fee of $24.95. If you were enticed by Block’s offer of a “rapid refund” and wanted a check in a day or two, you paid H&R Block an additional $50 to $90, depending on the amount you were getting. The fee could be as much as $50 on a $200 refund, up to $90 for $2,000 or more.
This was actually a loan, and for a very short time. Filing electronically usually gets you a check in two and a half weeks, according to the IRS, and five days sooner if it’s deposited directly into a bank account. At the most, then, the “rapid refund” loan, issued a day or two after filing, would run about fifteen days, which made the $90 fee on a $2,000 payment equivalent to an annual interest rate of 108 percent. At the least, the loan could run as little as four days, propelling the annualized rate to 410 percent on $2,000, and 2,281 percent on $200.
amuseDetachment: "Those who are better at managing the allocation of resources gets more responsibility for allocation. It's massively decentralized decision-making, which is most definitely not zero-sum."
saulgoodman: "Okay, so how is money supply set?"
amuseDetachment: "By the central banks."
...the current system of measurement is out-dated and seriously underestimates the count of the number of poor people in this country. If the government were to acknowledge the true extent of poverty, it would need to dedicate a greater share of its resources to pay the costs of programs to help the poor. It is unfortunately cheaper to use an outdated system of measurement so that fewer people will be in poverty by government standards.
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