Three contractors are bidding to fix a broken wall at 10 Downing Street; one from London, one from Bristol and the third from Liverpool.
They go with a senior civil servant to examine the wall.
The London contractor takes out a tape measure and does some measuring, then works some figures with a pencil.
'Well', he says, 'I figure the job will run about £900: £400 for materials, £400 for my crew and £100 profit for me.'
The Bristol contractor also does some measuring and figuring, and then says, 'I can do this job for £700: £300 for materials, £300 for my crew and £100 profit for me.'
The Liverpool contractor doesn't measure or figure but leans over to the civil servant and whispers, "£2,700."
The civil servant, incredulous, says, 'You didn't even measure like the other guys! How did you come up with such a high figure?'
The Liverpool contractor whispers back, '£1000 for me, £1000 for you, and we hire the guy from Bristol to fix the wall.'
'Done!' replies the civil servant.
And that, my friends, is how it all works and why we pay so much in taxes.
You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time. Abraham Lincoln, (attributed) 16th president of US (1809 - 1865)