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April « 2019 « EDDuvall.com

Archive for April, 2019

Real World Graduation, Question 80: Encryption

RealWorldGraduation_Question_80_Encryption   <– PDF

A certain foreign group is in the business of smuggling heroin into the U. S. They are aware that the FBI and DEA have tapped their phones and are monitoring their emails.  They wish to communicate to their allies in the U. S. that: a) a shipment of 40 kg of heroin is available; b) it will brought into New Orleans, LA on the 14th of April; and c) they will meet their co-conspirators at the pre-arranged safe-house at noon.  It is decided to send this message by posting it on a blog using a pre-arranged user name, and using an encryption method developed by the group and their allies.  Thus, even though the blog were being monitored by the FBI and the DEA, they believe a sufficiently strong code will prevent the police from figuring out what is going on.

Here are the candidate codes they have developed, each of which sends the message above:

1)         XCV TY YORE BNY EDT WSAAAW PLLU GJJ GYEWQ

2)         B9X42 N83 FGJPT 6HOGD 9JNU 49 BPO954E VB6 R5 4E3F GA 78HB

3)         83927 83261 90943 74835 12772 81934 61732 91846 91034 17283 81926 88225

4)         #7(*^ %^#ED *(K 7H 9JH6& FGR^N GHE$4 GH*DE H&%%B &()UH ERBVG

 

Which is the most effective way for the drug dealers to send their secret message?

a) Code #1, because it is the shortest, and hence the most efficient.

b) Code #2, because it uses numbers and letters and has no repeating sequences.

c) Code #3, because it consists only of numbers in a uniform sequence of 5 characters, which does not give any hint about what words are being represented.

d) Code #4, because it uses all the characters on the keyboard, and therefore is more difficult to break.

e) The group should use commercial encryption software.

(The answer is on p. 2 of the PDF.)

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Real World Graduation, Question 79: Crime in High Places

RealWorldGraduation_Question_79_Crime_In_High_Places   <– PDF

Which of the following are crooks?

a) A S. President who covered up a burglary of the opposing political Party’s headquarters that was engineered by a group of his subordinates.

b) A U. S. President who committed perjury for the purpose of obstructing justice in order to deprive a citizen of their legal rights in a civil case in which the President was a defendant.

c) A S. President who authorized and enforced a mandatory confiscation of all gold possessed by Americans.

d) A S. president who knowingly used questionable evidence to entice Congress into authorizing a foreign war.

e) All of the above.

(The answer is on p. 2 of the PDF.)

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Real World Graduation, Question 78: Tax Rates

RealWorldGraduation_Question_78_Tax_Rates   <– PDF

The U. S. has a graduated personal income tax system.  This means that income levels are divided into several levels, and those income divisions are taxed at different rates.  The tax rates increase as the amount of income increases.  The tax rate of the lowest division of income is called the “base rate”, and all the other tax rates at the higher income levels are called “marginal rates”.  As a person’s income increases, the marginal rates become higher, hence the name “graduated tax”.  For example, in tax year 2014, the income level divisions and marginal rates for single persons and married couples were:

a) 10% rate for incomes between $0 and $9075 (single person), $0 to $18150 (married)

b) 15% rate for incomes between $9075 and $36900 (single), $18150 to $73800 (married)

c) 25% rate for incomes between $36900 and $89350 (single); $73800 to $148850 (married)

d) 28% rate for incomes between $89350 and 186350 (single); $148850 to $226850 (married)

e) 33% rate for incomes between $186350 and $405100 (single); $226850 to $405100 (married)

f) 35% rate for incomes between $405100 and $406750 (single); $405100 to $457600 (married)

g) 6% rate for incomes above $406750 (single); and above $457600 (married)

There are slightly different marginal rates for “heads of household”, but those are not relevant for this topic.

The overall size of the federal government depends on how much tax revenue it can obtain. It is clear from the tax schedule above that those who earn more must generally pay more in taxes.  Some activists desire to reduce the size of the government by using a tactic they call “starving the beast”.  The idea is that if marginal tax rates are reduced, the government will receive less income tax revenue, and thus will ultimately force the government to reduce its budget targets.  The claim is that in the long run, steadily declining revenue will require the government to reduce its spending and therefore its size.  In other words, nearly all taxpayers would have more money left over from their paycheck.  In what ways could this policy “starve the beast”?

a) Money that would otherwise go to the government can be spent on appliances, cars, etc; the benefit accrues to selfish individuals and deprives the government of some revenue.

b) Money that would otherwise go to the government can be spent on furthering one’s education; the benefit accrues to selfish individuals and deprives the government of some revenue.

c) Money that would otherwise go to the government can be spent on charitable causes. The benefits accrue to the less fortunate, but deprives the government of some revenue.

d) Money that would otherwise go to the government can be spent on vacations or saved for the future; either way, the benefit accrues to selfish individuals and deprives the government of some revenue.

e) All of the above to varying degrees, depending on individual preferences.

(The answer is on p. 2 of the PDF.)

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Real World Graduation, Question 77: Small Expenses

RealWorldGraduation_Question_77_Small_Expenses   <– PDF

A certain man has a full-time job. Every work day (Monday through Friday), he spends an average of $7.00 for lunch.  His wife has offered to make him a lunch every day (which would cost about $2.00 per day).  Suppose the man took his wife up on her offer, and invested the $5.00 per day in mutual funds that received an average annual return of 8%.  Will saving these small amounts make any economic difference over the long run, say 20 or 30 years?  To assess this question, the formula for calculating the value of an investment with a fixed annual return is (neglecting inflation):

A = P(1.0 + r)n,

where P is the amount invested, r is the rate of return expressed as a decimal (8% = 0.08), n is the number of years the money is invested, and A is the value of the investment after n years.   In this case, P would be the amount saved in a year.  Inflation is ignored here because we are interested in the buying power, not the number of dollars.  (Including inflation makes the calculation more difficult, and increases the number of dollars the investment is worth, but those dollars have less buying power).  The effect of inflation does not change the general answer to this question.

a) It is not worth it because “brown-bagging” is not cool, especially if one is a white-collar worker. In our image-conscious society, people think “brown-bagging” is a sign of cheapness, and appearing cheap may impede one’s chances of getting ahead.

b) “Brown-bagging” over long periods of time is bad for the environment because several trees will probably have to be sacrificed to manufacture the bags, so it is not worthwhile.

c) It may be worthwhile for short periods when money is tight, or if one’s workplace is far away from restaurants, but is otherwise socially degrading.

d) It is not worth it; the amount accumulated will be so small that he would have been better off to enjoy buying his lunch every day.

e) It is not worth it in general, for a combination of the above reasons, and possibly some others.

(The answer is on p. 2 of the PDF.)

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