Mathematics is like love: a simple idea that gets complicated. And if you don't understand those math things - you just get used to them.

They teach us math in school, because they think, we all need to know it (or at least get used to it). For most of us (normal people), Calculus or Trigonometry is a total waste of time. But the Arithmetic is what we all would like to know. Because, at least, we all need to count money. And we need to do it correctly.

At school they teach us that 2 + 2 = 4. Then we hear that 2 + 2 = 5, which they specify as figurative speech.Obviously, figurative speech is when they speak with figures. Now, which one is right?

We, the normal people, usually count whole numbers. By definition, whole numbers are the big numbers on the left of the price tag. As a rule, we disregard the tiny gibberish on the right. If the whole number on the tag says 2, we, the normal people, assume a 2-dollar purchase. In fact, it is never 2, it is usually some 299, but we don’t care about this claptrap. Only the weirdos will notice the 99, and assume an almost-3-dollars price. When we, the normal people, buy 2 things for 2 dollars each, we think that we pay 2 + 2 = 4 dollars. The weirdo thinks he pays 3 + 3 = 6 dollars for the exact same thing. We both think wrong. With 99 or 70 or 06, we pay the average (another mathematical prank) of (4 + 6)/2= 5 dollars. This means that both 2 + 2 = 5 and 3 + 3 = 5 are correct. In fact, we are paying something between 4-something and 5-something. But we, the normal people, don’t feel like calculating the ‘something’. Maybe the weirdo does.

As if it was not confusing enough, there is tax. Another ‘something’, we are never prepared for, that strikes us every time at the cash register. But in spite of everything, we, the normal people, will not abuse our brain with tax calculation. The weirdo probably would not do it as well. Unless he is a weirdo, who works for IRS.

Even without tax, math is controversial. Let’s do an experiment. Put 2 male rabbits plus 2 female rabbits in the same cage. How many rabbits will you have in a few weeks? Definitely more than 4. Addition turned into multiplication.

Okay, back to the money. How do we, the normal people, define ‘more money’? - We use our senses. Let’s do an experiment. Take ten hundred-dollar bills (borrow them from someone, if necessary). Now take (or borrow) a thousand one-dollar bills. Put the two stacks in front of you. The one-dollar pile is MORE MONEY! $1000 does not equal $1000.Now take a bag of 100 000 US cents (we recommend Glad force flex bags, they are stretchy and strong) and compare the money weight. Would you still insist that $1000 = $1000?

Actually, for the second phase of our experiment, they may say, we can’t compare objects of different nature, like coins and paper bills. Fine, let’s compare perfectly matching objects, like human and human. Put together an average 200-pound man and a100-pound woman. They sure look different, but will you agree that he is TWICE as heavy as her? Never! Now take an average 200-pound woman and a 100-pound man. She looks at least 3 times heavier. In any case, 200 / 100 is NOT = 2.

Back to the money.Estimating money by looks or weight did not comply with basic math. Let’s try to do it properly – by purchasing power. One dollar gives us the power to buy a burger from McDonald’s dollar menu (screw the tax). Let’s check the math with burgers. Two burgers is 1 burger times 2 = 2 dollars. Accordingly, 2 dollars are twice as much as 1 dollar (2 burgers divided by 1 burger = 2).

That works… If we have an American dollar. Now let’s take a Zimbabwean dollar. One US dollar was estimated at 300 000 000 000 000 Zimbabwean dollars (before you hurt yourself trying to figure it out – it is 300 trillion.)One dollar of Zimbabwe can buy nothing. That is Zero burgers. Two dollars – also Zero burgers. Three dollars – zilch as well. That proves that 1 = 2, and 1= 3, and 2 = 3. And also 4, 5, …38, …100005, … a million… any number under 1 burger … are all equal. A cheap Zimbabwean burger requires a purchasing power of 50 trillion dollars. Now the ratio of 50 trillion to 1 dollar will be: 1 burger divided by zero burgers, which is Infinity (and not 50 trillion, as the Math insists). We think that Zimbabwean dollar was indefinitely suspended because it undermined the math values.

Math is intentionally complicated. It tangles us with formulas, which are hard to get used to. Though if you can use the formulas, you can prove whatever you want. Let’s do a test. Take 1 dollar and 10 cents. (Don’t borrow; we will not look at them).

We know that $1 = 100 cents
Divide both sides by 100. (They should stay equal).
$ 1/100 = 100/100 cents
=> $ 1/100 = 1 cent
Take square root of both sides. (They should stay equal).
=> squr($1/100) = squr (1 cent)

=> $ 1/10 = 1 cent
Multiply both sides by 10. (They should stay equal).
=> $1 = 10 cents (ONE DOLLAR EQUALS 10 CENTS!)

Got it? Have you ever had a feeling that you are paying ten times more for everything?

Math is often disappointing. Especially when it comes to money. We need to find a way of counting money without getting upset. That’s why they teach us Math at school. So we’ll be able to count money. They are constantly changing the teaching methods, but with no success.Let’s see the evolution of a simple math problem in the classroom:


A peasant sells a bag of potatoes for $10. His costs amount to 4/5 of his selling price. What is his profit?


A farmer sells a bag of potatoes for $10. His costs amount to 4/5 of his selling price, that is, $8. What is his profit?


A farmer sells a bag of potatoes for $10. His production costs are $8, and his profit is $2. Underline the word "potatoes" and discuss with your classmates.


A farmer sells a bag of potatoes for $10. His production costs are 0.80 of his revenue. On your calculator, graph revenue vs. costs. Discuss the result with students in your group.


A farmer sells a bag of potatoes for $10. His production costs are $8. On your computer, run the POTATO program to determine the profit. Write a brief essay that analyzes this example in the real world of economics.


A farmer sells a bag of potatoes for $10. His production costs are $8. Run the PROFIT gadget from a sidebar. Post your comments on Face Book.

You see, in six decades the profit has not changed. Maybe in 2020s they will invent some math trick, so the farmer will know how to capitalize on his potatoes. And so we, the normal people, will be able to count our money and like the result.