It's Simple Algebra

17 August 2004

The algebra of entitlements
By Craig J. Cantoni

Most politicians of both parties don’t know algebra, probably because most went to public school and are lawyers. And given the fact that reporters never point out that politicians don’t know algebra, they must not know it either.

For example, in speaking recently to a group of greedy seniors, Senator John Kerry said that he was going to give them free medicine and provide them with options for obtaining the free medicine that President Bush didn’t give them. Of course, he is not going to give an option to taxpayers, including future generations, of not picking up the tab.

Not knowing algebra and being a liberal, Kerry doesn’t understand the following equation and sees only the left side of it:

e = t

In the above, ”e” represents the entitlements received by special-interest groups and ”t” represents the taxes levied to pay the entitlements. Like all Democrats and an increasing number of Republicans, Kerry only speaks about the left side of the equation, thus leaving the impression that entitlements are free.

In the case of Medicare, the taxes are imposed on both current taxpayers, or adults, plus future taxpayers, or today’s children. Thus, if ”a” represents adults and ”c” represents children, the equation becomes:

e = (t)(a) + (t)(c)

But the above isn’t complete, as it doesn’t reflect the costs that are in addition to the entitlements. There are the legions (l) of government bureaucrats needed to administer the entitlements, private-sector (p) money spent on complying with the diktats of the government bureaucrats, the dues (d) that go to lobbying groups like AARP, the unclean (u) campaign contributions given to politicians to encourage them to steal other people’s money, the rent-seekers® in private industry who earn handsome incomes interpreting regulations, and the damage done to the moral fiber of the nation (n) in allowing neighbors to steal from neighbors.

The equation becomes:

e + l + p + d + u + r + n = (t)(a) + (t)(c)

Rearranging the letters to make the equation easy to remember, it becomes:

p + l + u + n + d + e + r = (t)(a) + (t)(c)

Or this shorthand:

plunder = (t)(a) + (t)(c)

Or this sentence:

Plunder equals taxes levied against adults and children for other people’s entitlements.

Now we know why kids don’t learn the algebra of entitlements in government schools—so they will grow up and elect politicians who don’t know the algebra of entitlements.

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Mr. Cantoni is an an author, columnist and founder of Honest Americans Against Legal Theft (HAALT). He can be reached at

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