Inconsistent Fragments

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Seems I relaxed too soon. Another week of terrible pressure, mostly regarding income tax. Someone once told me that income tax comprises only a tiny bit of the government's revenue. In fact, many countries around the world have no income tax, or so I hear. So why doesn't some party or other take this up in their election agenda -- surely they'd win? And by abolishing income tax they'd be earning the immortal gratitude of millions of middle class people, and they can then remain in power for a thousand years... Can anyone tell me why no one ever speaks of doing this?

Which puts me in an economic frame of mind. Two problems that I sometimes think about.

First problem. A friend's father took a bank loan and bought an apartment in a posh location in Calcutta. He was at that time located outside Calcutta, at his workplace. For the remaining period of his service, he rented out the place to the very bank from which he took the loan. The apartment was situated on the top floor of the building whose first three floors were occupied by the bank, so it was a good place for them to rent because late shift employees and other staff who needed to stay over could be simply sent upstairs. The rent was roughly equal to the monthly instalments he had to pay on the loan, so they cancelled out each other, and he didn't have to pay them anything, and vice versa. A few months after retiring from his job, the loan period was also ended. He then refused the next contract renewal with the bank, and walked into the place, which was now fully owned by him.
My question is, where's the catch? It seems to me like this fellow never actually did anything or invested anything, and a piece of real estate just dropped into his lap after some years of careful planning. But you're not supposed to get something out of nothing, so what did this fellow do to get this?

Second problem. Not really a problem, but funny little incident. There's a restaurant near my home where I'm a regular visitor, and they have my name in their computerised database, so whenever they draw up a bill in my name, the machine automatically applies a 'frequent customer' rebate to the gross value. Now they have a policy that any order under Rs.300/- will enjoy a rebate of 5%, and any order equalling or exceeding that amount will enjoy 10%. I guess this arrangement is supposed to be economically beneficial to them. This story is about how it may not be so beneficial after all.
The other day I was having a light snack there, and the bill came up to Rs.298/-. After deducting 5%, it was Rs.284/-, rounded off. I looked at the bill, and made a calculation. If I addded a little something to the order, say a soft drink worth Rs.10/-, that would bring up the total to Rs.308/-. But then I'd be in 10% territory. So I'd actually have to pay Rs.277/-, rounded off. Which was Rs.7/- less than what I'd pay if I did not take the soft drink! However, I didn't feel like drinking a fizzy drink right then, so I ordered it and then gave it to a waiter with my compliments. And to this date they haven't scratched my name from that rebate database!

But too much money talk depresses me, perhaps because I never seem to have enough of the stuff. I'll go to bed now, with this dog-eared copy of the Wolverine: The Origin comic book that my cousin lent me the other day. A rare evening I had today, with nothing much to do except play some ludo with my wife.

Good night.


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