"That deduction is meant to allow the common person the right of home ownership."
"And what's more common than taking someone else's money? Besides, it isn't the middle-class that gets most of the benefit." He explained that almost 100 percent of everyone with at least a $100,000 mortgage takes the interest deduction, while fewer than 20 percent of Americans below the poverty line get federal rental subsidies.
"You'll still have to pay property taxes," I reminded him. He reminded me that it didn't matter.
"Most local and state governments will be so happy to have me build a business and hire minimum-wage bar girls, they'll probably waive my taxes the first year or two and then give me tax rebates for a couple of more years."
"O.K., for awhile you have a cheap bar. How are you planning to keep the lights on?"
"Electric companies save about $210 million a year when they buy electricity below cost from the federal dams. I just tap in on some low-voltage energy."
"Even with cheap utilities, you'll still have problems keeping it going."
"Only problem I'll have is deciding which line on the income tax form is for deductions for advertising, dinners, and research at the country club."
"I suppose you have other scams?"
"Other subsidies, just like everyone else," said Marshbaum snippily correcting me.
"The government pays farmers about $20 billion a year to grow feed grains to assure there will be an adequate supply. I plan to get some of those bucks by selling malt liquor. Rye. Barley. Wheat. Corn. It's the Basic Four food groups. I can even water down my drinks since the government also provides about $400 million a year in water subsidies."
"The agriculture subsidy program was begun during the Great Depression to benefit poor farmers who--" Before I could finish, Marshbaum interrupted.
"It's true that the largest 10 percent of the corporate farms get over 75 percent of the subsidies. But, as a poor struggling farmer, I may get $500. That's still money in the pocket."
"So, you're saying that the government wants you to sell more drinks?"