A joke circulating in the EU just now...

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Recently, in Europe…

A Greek, a Cypriot, an Italian, a Frenchman, a Portuguese, a Spaniard, a Finn, an Austrian, a Dutchman, and a German regularly go out for lunch together. This they did once again several weeks ago. The bill was for 500 euros. Everyone contributed as he saw fit and here are their payments:

  • The Greek, the Portuguese, the Spaniard and the Italian paid nothing.
  • The Cypriot paid one euro.
  • The Frenchman paid five.
  • The Austrian paid 50.
  • The Finn 80.
  • The Dutchman 100.
  • And the German paid 264 euros.

This went on for quite a while. The men met for lunch, ate, and were happy. But then the cook messed things up...

One day he offered to reduce the price by 50 euros, since they were such good guests. This was very nice of him. The next bill was only 450 euros for the ten of them, but the group insisted they should keep the same payment scheme. Nothing would change for the first four—they would continue to have free lunches. But what about the rest?

If they divided 50 euros equally and deducted the result from their previous contributions, each would get 8.33 euros but the Cypriot and the Frenchman would now get paid for going to lunch.

That was impossible.

The cook proposed that each guest should get a reduction proportionate to what he had previously paid and, after some calculations, he came up with this plan:

  • The Cypriot, like the first four, now paid zero (saving 100%).
  • The Frenchman now paid three euros (saving 40 percent).
  • The Austrian paid 45 euros.
  • The Finn 72.
  • The Dutchman 90 (all saving 10%).
  • The German paid 239 (saving 11%).

All of the six who previously paid were better off, and of course the first four still had a free lunch.

But coming out of the restaurant and going over the numbers again, the Frenchman said: “I only got 2 euros of the 50!” Pointing his finger at the German, he whined, “He got 25 euros! That's unfair!!”

“That's right” cried the Cypriot, “I received only one euro and he saved more than twenty times that amount!”

“True! True!” yelped the Austrian, “Why does he get 25 euros back, and I only get five! The rich Germans get everything—as always!”

“Wait, wait!” shouted the Greek, the Italian, the Spaniard, and the Portuguese; “We did not get anything! This system exploits the poorest people!”

All together, they jumped on the German and beat him up.

The next day the German didn't show up, which was too bad since the others didn't have enough money to pay for lunch.

So the group parted and never met again.

Tim Bayly

Tim serves Clearnote Church, Bloomington, Indiana. He and Mary Lee have five children and big lots of grandchildren.

Want to get in touch? Send Tim an email!