**2 + 2 is How Much Again?**

**2 + 2 is How Much Again?**

Sure, I often get exasperated at how dumb everyone is at math today, and how many seem to be downright proud of it. Still, you know the old adage: *In the land of the blind, the one eyed-man is king. *Which is to say, in this day and age, knowing just a little basic math allows you to run circles around most people. For example…

Remember that guy who caught Derek Jeter’s 3000th hit, gave the ball back, and was showered with bats and jerseys and box seats? Of course he has to pay taxes on all of it. Let’s say what he got was worth $200,000…and let’s assume the tax on such gifts is 20%. That means he owes $40,000. A couple of companies offered to pay the tax for him…but wouldn’t he then owe $8000 on their $40,000 gift? Yup…and it sounds like this could go on “thru infinity”…but it fact, the beauty of giving cash is that you can give enough to cover it. The question is, how do you figure out how much?

Turns out, it’s one of those “fancy” formulas where X, the number you’re looking for, appears on both sides of the equation, and that does the trick. Say X is the cash you should give to pay *all* this guy’s taxes. What you need to figure is:

**X = 20% of (200,000 + X)**

In other words, give an amount which would cover the taxes on the total of his original $200,000 *added to* the amount you’re giving him. Remembering that 20% is the same as 20 ÷ 100…or 1/5th…the answer comes out to $50,000. And indeed, 20% of 250,000 is 50,000, so it checks. Almost seems like magic, but it’s child’s play.

Now marketing mavens these days work themselves into a lather trying to make something mundane sound like a monstrous big deal. As the saying goes: *Don’t sell them a toaster, sell them a new way of life. *So we expect a certain level of BS, and we pretty much ignore it. Funny thing is, when they start throwing numerical calculations into the hype, things can go terribly awry. Here’s a case in point…

We’ll pass over the *pro forma *disingenuousness of touting “free shipping & handling”…for a magazine?… come on! Or the way they list simple content as “benefits”…considering “coverage, articles, tips” as separate “things” that you get *in addition to* your magazine…and even give each of them an “item #.” What’s amusing is what happens when they try to puff up just how much money you’re going to save with this offer.

Notice that Item # 001 states 3 years costs $20, described as “90% off the cover price and 2 years free!” Oh really? Let’s suss it out.

They quote the 3-year cover price as $215.64…and since you get “2 years free,” you will only be paying for 1 of those 3 years, which would be 1/3 of 215.64 or $71.88. And if you take 90% off that, you pay just 10%, or $7.19, rounding up. But they’re asking for $20, for an overage of $12.81. Did you catch that? Pretty tricky, no?

True, they sneak in some fine print at the bottom that supposedly explains what they mean by “free years”…if they were being completely open and above board about it, there’d be no need to, so they know they’re cheating, and we know they know. But for the sake of argument…they say “Free years based on the annual basic rate of $20.00.” What’s happening is, you either pay for one year and get 2 years free, OR you get 90% off the cover price…you can’t get both, because if you do, as we’ve seen, you end up owing only $7.19. (And to give the devil his due, 90% off $215.64 is $21.55, so $20 is actually a deal…)

But there’s more, and it’s a doozie. For the $20 they’re asking, how many 3-year subscriptions do you get? Well, just one, obviously. But observe that in the far left column, under “Qty,” they say 36! That’s 36 3-year subscriptions, for what should be $7.19…108 years, 1296 issues, for about 5 one-thousandths of a cent per issue! Now that’s a magazine bargain even a blind man couldn’t pass up…

**shameless plugs, 99.99% off, in other words, free…**

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**More bloggage at** http://travelingcyst.blogspot.com and http://www.examiner.com/retro-pop-culture-in-watertown/mark-john-astolfi

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