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Sixty Years of Teaching Math December 1, 2010

Posted by Mary W. Matthews in Humor, Politics, Popular Culture.
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The original version of the following joke was forwarded to me by a good friend, but I found the “punch line” to be a GOP/Tea Bigot attack on those dreaded, evil, tree-hugging liberals.

You know, the evil liberals who are screaming because GOP cutbacks in education spending have taken the schools of California from the best in the civilized world to the worst, and the USA from the best-educated nation in the world (in the 1950s) to the 32th-best (or worse).

The evil liberals who are screaming because the incomes of Bush “have-mores” have increased by 2,500 percent OR MORE, while everyone else’s incomes have declined.

The evil liberals who have noticed that the share of the U.S. economy owned or controlled by the top GOP 1 percent has gone from 50 percent in 1960 to 96 percent in 2010.

The evil liberals who are screaming because Reagan and the two Bushes MORE THAN SEXTUPLED the national debt in the last 30 years — and the GOP is working feverishly to ensure that no one understands what the word “sextupled” means, or at least this is proof that the fault is progressivism, or at the very least the fault of anyone who doesn’t worship Mammon, Ayn Rand, and the Holy Tax Gift to the Wealthy.

So below is MY version of essentially the same joke. Not that it’s an attack on the Greedy Oil Plutocrats or anything.

—————

Last week I stopped off at the store to buy a toothbrush and some toothpaste. My total was $9.58, so I gave the teenager behind the counter a ten-dollar bill and eight cents. He stood there, holding the nickel and three pennies, while staring blankly at the screen on his register. I tried to tell him just to give me two quarters, but he called the manager for help. While the manager tried to explain the transaction to the kid, the kid’s eyes seemed to glaze over, as if the manager were speaking Urdu.

Here’s how the problem seems to me to have come about:

Teaching Math in the 1950s
A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. The logger’s cost of production is 4/5th of the price. What is the logger’s profit?

Teaching Math in the 1960s
A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. The logger’s cost of production is 4/5th of the price, or $80. What is the logger’s profit?

Teaching Math in the 1970s
A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. The logger’s cost of production is 4/5th of the price, or $80. Did the logger make any profit?

Teaching Math in the Reagan Era
A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. The logger’s cost of production is $80. The government both deregulated and diminished the power of unions, both tactics designed to remove workers’ protections against unfair business practices; reduced the boss’s income tax rate from 70 percent to 28 percent; and cut the logger’s benefits, so the boss’s profit is $40. As promised by the boss, $0.04 “trickled down” to the logger. Adjusted for inflation, the boss’s net income doubled. How much credit card debt does the logger need to run up just to stay “even”? How is this the fault of liberal insistence on social justice programs like welfare, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid?

Teaching Math in the Newt Gingrich Era
A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. The logger’s cost of production is $80 and the profit to the logger’s boss is $50. Explain how this is the fault of high taxation on wealthy Republicans; overregulation of Republican businesses and corporations; the Clinton attempt at health care reform; and Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, SCHIP, Head Start, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowment for the Arts, difficult-to-educate children, and welfare queens.

Teaching Math in the George W. Bush Era
A logger has a truckload of lumber. The logger’s cost of production is $80, but the international corporation (owned in the U.S., based in Dubai for tax purposes) that bought the logger’s competition is selling slightly inferior asbestos-permeated lumber from overseas for half of the logger’s production costs. The profit to the logger’s boss is $84. As promised by the boss, $0.01984 “trickled down” to the logger. The logger’s boss has pocketed the logger’s pension savings and eliminated the logger’s health care coverage as being too expensive. Over eight years, the logger’s boss took a profitable business and: halved its production costs by skimping on quality and safety; doubled the business’s long-term debt load; and multiplied his own income by twenty-five. The logger’s house is now worth half the mortgage the logger’s boss persuaded the logger to obtain, and the logger has maxed out every single credit card. How is the fault of liberal objections to Bushonomics?

Teaching Math in the Glenn Beck Era
A logger has a truckload of lumber. Evil progressives want to take the lumber without compensating the logger in any way and turn the U.S. both atheist and socialist in a process first begun by evil Woodrow Wilson and evil, evil, evil FDR. (Only Democrats can be evil.) Only eliminating any and all reins on soaring health care costs (a.k.a. GOP corporate profits) and providing massive tax gifts to the wealthy can save us, and anyone who says differently is practicing class warfare. How is this all Obama’s fault?

Teaching Math Under the Next GOP President
What do you need math for, anyway? Fox News will tell you any “fact” you need to know.
      Your miserable poverty is all the fault of progressivism and those evil, evil liberals. The only conceivable answer is a flat tax from which anyone making more than $100,000 a year, OR any member of the Republican party, is wholly exempt; privatization to GOP multinational corporations of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, SCHIP, and any other institutionalized social justice program (social justice is an abomination unto Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ Almighty); elimination of the EPA, the NEA, the NEH, the Department of Education, and any non-GOP employee of the Department of Justice; elimination of all federal regulation on or taxation of Republican businesses and corporations; spying on U.S. citizens; waterboarding Democrats and other political enemies; and vilification of any political party or movement that disagrees.
      How does agreement among GOP pundits on these points prove that they are the only Truth?

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