Thursday, November 18, 2004

Care to Make a Wager?

I SHOULD be about 10 pounds richer. Not the weight, the currency. I should be, but I'm not. See, as a junior in college, I became a member of LadBrokes, an online gambling site. The plan was to put about 2 or 3 pounds (4 or 5 US dollars) on Ruud van Nistelrooy to score a goal against Real Madrid in a Champions League matchup. As I hit submit, I received an error message. But why? I had registered and everything! Much to my chagrin, I was barred because I lived in the US. Sports gambling online isn't allowed.

Fast forward to about two years later, and I still can't put my small wager down. People like William Saum, the Director of Agent, Amateurism and Gambling Activities for the NCAA want to keep it that way too. But why? My $10 won't hurt anybody right? Well, Bill thinks that allowing gambling on sports will comprimise the integrity of the game because athletes will take money to throw games. Fine. Keep a ban on athletes playing the game if you want to, but why must the rest of us abide by those rules?

Saum states in his testimony before the United States House of Representatives that students took money to "point shave" prior to the rise of internet gambling, and had to face harsh punishment for it. So did Pete Rose. I think athletes understand what is at stake if they cheat. But legalized internet gambling does not create cheaters. In fact, legalizing it could be a great new tax source.

There are always going to be people who over-indulge, it already happens in Vegas. But there are people who over-indulge in alcohol or chocolate, but we don't make those illegal.

But as things go now, odds are I'll have to move to England to bet on van Nistelrooy.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Carpe Opportunity

The French film "Amelie" deals with opportunities, sometimes missed opportunities. I watched it about a week or 10 days ago, and I really enjoyed it. It's funny, maybe also a little ironic, that I feel as though I had recently written a posting on here about my quest to make sure I don't miss out on too much or get too involved in school. Then came "Amelie", followed by an opportunity.

I have to admit that I wavered back and forth about going to Brianna Baker's wedding. I never got a written invitation, so obviously she didn't want me there. But she DID call a week before the magical day and told me she hoped I could be there. But I was scheduled to work on Friday and Sunday, and it just wouldn't be convenient.

But, as you know, I got in the car after work and returned to the burg. In hindsight, I'm glad that this is an opportunity that I didn't miss. Not only did I get to see one of my friends from high school tie the knot, but got to spend some time with others as well. And as religious as Brianna now is, I doubt that she will have another wedding, so this was my one chance to be at hers.

Friends, every opportunity has a cost and I'm glad that I had the chance to sit down and weigh the costs, because I think I made the right decision. But I'm also glad that others did the same thing. Failor gave up a seat at the Notre Dame-Tennessee game and McAnall risked injury or death tying his necktie in the car and driving with his knees. But it probably meant a lot for Brianna to see the friends she invited (and the one she didn't) at her wedding.

And if there's anything else that I can take from that weekend, its that I want every camera on the reception table to tell a story. Preferably one with a suitcase full of towels...

Friday, November 12, 2004

Snip Snip!

Explanation of a Tax Cut:

Suppose that every day, ten men go out for dinner. The bill for all 10 comes out to $100. If they paid their bill proportional to current tax demographics, it would look something like this:

The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.
The fifth would pay $1.
The sixth would pay $3.
The seventh would pay $7.
The eighth would pay $12.
The ninth would pay $18.
The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59.

The ten men ate dinner in the restaurant every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement until one day, the owner threw them a curveball. "Since you're all such good customers," he said, "I'm going to reduce the cost of your meal by $20." So now the dinner for ten only cost $80. The group still wanted to pay the bill the way we pay our taxes. So:

The first four men were unaffected (still paid nothing). But what about the other six? How could they divy up the $20 windfall so that everyone still would get his "fair share"? The six men realized that $20 divided by 6 was $3.33, but if they subtracted that from everybody's share, the fifth and the sixth men would be "paid" to eat their meal. So the restaurant suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man's bill by roughly the same percentage amount, so he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay:

The fifth man, along with the first four, now paid nothing (100% savings).
The sixth man now paid $2 instead of $3 (33% savings).
The seventh man now paid $5 instead of $7 (28% savings).
The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% savings).
The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 (22% savings).
The tenth now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% savings).

After this, the men began to compare their savings. "I only got one dollar out of the 20, but he got 10," declared the sixth man.
"Yeah, that's right," said the fifth, "it's not fair that he got $10 more than me!"
"That's true!" said the seventh, "Why should he get $10 when I only got $2? The wealthy get all the breaks!"
"Wait a minute," yelled the first four in unison. "We didn't get anything at all! This system exploits the poor!"

The next night, tired of being harrassed, the tenth man didn't show up for dinner, so the other nine ate without him. But when the eighty-dollar bill came, the men realized that they had a lot of money to make up. They didn't have enough money between all of them to pay for even half of the bill!

This is how our tax system works, folks. The wealthy do get the largest tax breaks, but they are already paying a vast majority of our nation's taxes to begin with.

Dr. David Kamerschen
Distinguished Professor of Economics
University of Georgia

-Just thought everyone would like a more simple way to look at tax cuts! Hungry anyone?