New children's book explains why one person's taxes don't actually make up an entire LEO salary

A 29-year veteran of the CHP partnered with a noted Stanford University economics professor to produce a book aimed at children and their parents


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VALLEJO, Calif. — During traffic stops, highway patrol officers frequently hear the statement, “I pay your salary!” While all officers and most rational people know that police salaries are drawn from the municipal budget, they also know that no individual’s tax contributions directly correlate to an officer’s bi-monthly paycheck.

Now, one officer is doing something to correct this widespread misconception among frequently-ticketed civilians.

While attending a fundraiser on the campus of Stanford University in 2012, David Greene, a 29-year veteran of the California Highway Patrol, found himself seated at a table with economics professor Dr. William Mirthless. Despite being from two wildly different worlds, Greene and Mirthless hit it off and began discussing the public education dilemma on Greene’s mind.

He already has plans for two sequels: "The Driver Who Cried 'Emergency!'" and "Everyone Else Wasn't Doing It."
He already has plans for two sequels: "The Driver Who Cried 'Emergency!'" and "Everyone Else Wasn't Doing It."

Over several subsequent discussions, they came up with an idea to get that message across to adults by producing a simple math book intended to be read to their kids but with the byproduct of providing essential education to them as well.

“Even a fifth grader would know that any individual’s taxes make up but a tiny fraction of an officer’s salary,” Mirthless told PoliceOne. “So a children’s book seemed the obvious format to address this concept with the masses.”

Entitled, “Your Math Doesn’t Work,” the book follows a little girl who wants to make a pot of bean soup. She collects three beans from each of her 24 classmates and soon realizes that with just 72 beans, she cannot make even a bowl of soup. She collects three more beans, then three more, from each classmate and after counting all the beans comes to the realization that “the math” of her recipe will not work — that she will need a much larger source of beans.

“She ultimately discovers a whole host of other supplies of beans, including beans accrued from sales taxes, business taxes, and most importantly, federal bean grants,” Mirthless said. “Complex economics explained in terms that even a child can understand. I love it.”

“We loved the idea of a bean-counter being the main character,” Greene said.

Greene has been handing out pre-release copies of the book to motorists and says he’s seen a significant reduction in incidences of “I pay your salary” and an increase in “Don’t you have something better to do?”, and the related “Shouldn’t you be out solving real crimes?”

He already has plans for two sequels: “The Driver Who Cried ‘Emergency!’” and “Everyone Else Wasn’t Doing It.”

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