Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Theobertarian Dictionary Part 4

Billion:  In second grade, they taught us all about number bases.  Western math uses Arabic numbers and we generally use base 10.  While base ten matches the number of fingers we have, other cultures have built number systems around other bases like 12 for the number of times the moon goes around the earth in a year.  Agriculture mattered to ancient cultures and calendars helped guide the planting season.  Nature intertwines with number in most cultures.

  The Babylonians used base 12 or 60 depending on the purpose.  Some Northern Europeans used units of 120.  The Romans used base 10 for counting whole numbers, but always broke fractions into 12s likely because physically splitting anything into tenths  just doesn’t happen all that naturally.  While single twelfths aren’t easy, it’s the first number that breaks into two three and four.  

In American public schools, they called all this number base talk, “New Math.”  Conservatives hated the new math. It wasn’t basic.  It was confusing. It had little to do with regular life which was all in base 10.  Understanding binary and base 8 turned out to be very important in working with computers in those days when the only people who used them really were programmers.  It turns out that large numbers of the individuals who helped to build the computer industry also happened to be products of the new math.

Theobertarian math is different.  While non-theobertarians understand that a billion is ten to the ninth power and that a hundred billion is ten to the eleventh power, Theobertarians clearly work in a different number base at least partly because as good Christians they reject Arabic numbers. As many  are aware, Christian math is different.  Most scientists believe that the earth and the universe are billions of years old.  They also believe that man as an identifiable species is millions of years old.  Many Christians believe that man and the earth are only thousands of years old because they literally count generations in the Bible.  Once you understand Theobertarian math, the discrepancy between science and Christian belief about time gets easier to understand.  Theobertarians do not use base ten when they count backwards.  Similarly, they do not count the billions in a deficit in quite the same fashion the rest of us do.

At the same time, they understand that a billion dollars is a lot of money for one individual to accumulate.  That is the reason they do whatever is necessary to protect people who have made a billion dollars, yet are so willing to spend billions of dollars of non-billionaires money for other purposes.  The total cost of Gulf reconstruction and the Iraq war is currently about 300 billion dollars.  That means that before we do anything else each and every American spends about 1500 dollars more in taxes to pay for the two Federal budget items.  If there are four people in your family, since children who aren’t the Olsen twins don’t generally have incomes of their own for the IRS, you will pay about 6000 dollars before you pay for schools, roads, water, food, shelter, health care, etc.  The median family income in America is roughly forty thousand dollars/year before taxes.  Twenty five percent of that already goes to taxes in some form.  This means that average people will go from having about 30,000 dollars to pay for housing, food, and clothes to 25,000.  I should mention that we don’t pay for the Gulf and the war all in one year though.  I should also mention that there are roughly 6 and a half billion people in the world which if we were to tax each of them for the cost of the war in Iraq would come to a mere 80 dollars a person, not counting the Iraqis.  This just happens to be more than many of them make in a month.  As it also happens, Theobertarians oppose any form of birth control because it’s unnatural.  Better that billions of children grow up in conditions that are immoral than that their parents resort to any unnatural means to control the size of their families.  Fwiw, I’ve never understood why birth control is unnatural to so many Theobertarians yet artificial fertilization is somehow an acceptable way to have children to the very same people.  

Theobertarians insist that it’s possible to do this without raising taxes at all.  In fact, they plan to eliminate the Federal inheritance tax.  I’m honestly not sure how the math works for this.  At a rough level it appears that we don’t tax the dead so we can drop a huge effective tax on future generations.  Many Theobertarians are not planning for future generations because they believe that we are already at the end of days.  In other words, if the calendar is the basis for most number systems, Theobertarian math says we won’t need either calendars or a functional system of numbers.  For that reason, when we are counting liabilities a billion is a trivial figure, but when we count our personal wealth a billion must be protected in any way necessary since well…to be honest I haven’t figured that one out yet.

I understand that there is a new curriculum in the works called instead of the “New Math”, “NeoCon Math”, that will help tomorrow’s youngsters understand how all of this works and how literal the phrase “no child LEFT BEHIND” really is.  I do have this weird feeling though that the part of NeoCon Math we should all be paying attention to is the “CON” part and that’s not new at all.  As the President once said at a fundraiser, “Some people call you a bunch of rich billionaires, I call you my base.”