Bullshit fail

Sometimes Penn and Teller mix in some stupid shit between their otherwise good points. I’m watching the Taxes episode of Bullshit! Season 7 and Penn mentions progressive taxes. To provide an analogy for this, and how “unfair” it is (debatable – but not the point of this post), they show a pie-less Penn taking pie from Teller.

A “guest” said something to the effect of “progressive taxes don’t punish the rich, they give a break to the poor”. So the pie thing was to illustrate that this system is in fact unfair to the rich. However, the analogy is complete bullshit.

In the tax system, the poor aren’t directly taking money from the rich. Rather the government is taking different amounts of money from each depending on how much each has. So in the analogy there should have been a third party taking pie from both Penn and Teller in amounts proportional to the amount of pie they had in the first place.

I hate when they try to make their point with misleading bullshit, it completely undermines what they are trying to say.


8 responses to “Bullshit fail

  1. Luckily for Penn, America runs not on money, but on Snowflakes!

  2. Good catch, Kimbo. I guess even the best of us skeptics have his/her head shoved firmly up their ass from time to time.

  3. You’re analysis is spot on here.

    It bugs me to no end when skeptics — and this seems to be most prevalent in the libertarian wing of the movement (though I readily admit that my own boas may be coming into play there) — let their politics skew the interpretation of evidence. It’s like they have a blind spot when it comes to a pet issue or two (**cough** global warming **cough cough**).

    Also, if I were running a country, I would totally run it on pie. But I’d build a giant pie vault and print certificates that represent ownership of said pie to use as currency. But secretly, I will have eaten all of the pie…

    Hmmm… What was that you said about not being funny?

  4. Looks like Bill Donahue is on to Penn & Teller as well [/snark]:


    • :D

      I know this probably isn’t nice, but Bill Donahue being pissed makes me happy. Usually because the results are so hilarious and entertaining.

  5. Now I’m here to resurrect the analogy. By using some statistics from Sweden :)
    The tendency among leftists and voters for the socialdemocratic party to belong to poor part of the population and the part that considers itself “working class” to state that their motives for voting are “egoistic” (serving economic self interest) is higher than the same tendency among coservative and libertarian voters.
    This indicates that there are voters simply votes for leftists in order to “Give Pie to themselfs”.

    The analogy is further supported since it isnt intendet to illustrate the process of lawmaking that results in raised taxes but to illustrate who benefits or suffers from said lawmaking.
    The matter of fact that it fails to illustrate the attitudes of the participants (“poor” and “rich”, or at least “poor”, Teller makes a pretty nice illustration of confused and upset wealthy guy) is not enough to make the analogy “bullshit”, unless you claim that it’s what it is intended to illustrate.

  6. You have completely missed the point, but you very nearly figured it out yourself in your example with the third person. What you said was that they should have a third person taking pie from each of them in PROPORTION to the pie that they started with. That’s proportional tax, and it’s “fair.” The skit was mocking PROGRESSIVE tax which takes more from some than others.

    So what you should have said was that Teller should have had a huge pie and Penn should have had a tiny sliver of pie, and the third person should have been taking huge chunks of Penn’s tiny piece while pilfering only tiny crumbs from Teller’s huge mound of pie. Then you’d be right. Indeed, they could just has well have done this skit instead. I’d still laugh, and the point would still be the same. Given a fixed total amount of pie taking, if you start taking less from one person then you must be taking more from someone else.

    I’m as poor as the next slave, but you cannot say that progressive tax is fair. It isn’t fair at all, and that’s what Penn and Teller are illustrating.

    Thanks for reading.