Unexpected Football Payment Arbitrage

I’m using my platform to take up a new issue – payment of college football players. I understand the purist arguments waxing nostalgic about the glory days of amateur collegiate athletics but clearly the game has become big (and increasingly big) business. Since the amount of revenue generated by college programs is so large, and the payroll of players so small, the money that should have been in the players pockets starts to show up in unexpected places.

Here’s an article highlighting the use of custom graphics and artwork to recruit players. It reveals that the University of Alabama has a full-time staff of 10 graphic artists. The article highlights the competition between schools (Alabama and Tennessee, in this case) for graphic artists!

If they could properly pay the players to play then that money would go straight into their salaries, instead of this kind of fluff masquerading as compensation. Fundamentally it is the players ultimately buying the artwork. Why can’t we just ask them if they wouldn’t rather have the money instead…?

Level the Playing Field and Protect our Seniors – Charge Robotic Workers a Payroll Tax

Just about every day we read a story about how robots are replacing humans in the workforce. Most of the articles focus on the negative impact on the humans they are replacing in the form of lost work and decreasing opportunities for work. While I tend to agree with the Wall Street Journal that humans will eventually find other forms of work, what we are not thinking about is the impact on our seniors who depend on current workers’ payroll taxes. When businesses employ robotic workers to replace humans the robots are not paying into the Social Security or Medicare funds. Furthermore by charging payroll taxes to human workers, and not robotic workers, the government is essentially putting humans at a significant disadvantage from a labor cost perspective. So if we are worried about the welfare of our human workers at a minimum we need to level the playing field by charging businesses payroll tax when they deploy robots. Whenever companies deploy new robotic systems they will be required to estimate the number of human positions the robot will replace and the nominal hourly rate for that position. They will have to pay the equivalent payroll tax that humans would have paid as the robot’s contribution to our social infrastructure.

That Time I Sold a Huge Policy to Brian Williams

Brian has come under fire recently for embellishing on several of his life stories. I hate to pile on but Brian’s account of his chance meeting with me, and subsequent purchase of the largest single insurance policy in Pennsylvania history, is not true either. He’s offered up this photo of the happy moment, but if you look carefully you can see it has been manipulated.

Ned-Brian-Williams2

Here is the real photo. The record policy holder is weatherman Phil Connors, not Brian.

Ned-Brian-Williams-orig

The World is Turning Upside Down

So we have atheist economists preaching suppression of covetousness:

http://reason.com/archives/2014/04/26/living-with-inequality

“That’s why I propose the creation of the Tenth Commandment Club. The tenth commandment—”You shall not covet”—is a foundation of social peace. The Nobel Laureate economist Vernon Smith noted the tenth commandment along with the eighth (you shall not steal) in his Nobel toast, saying that they “provide the property right foundations for markets, and warned that petty distributional jealousy must not be allowed to destroy” those foundations. If academics, pundits, and columnists would avowedly reject covetousness, would openly reject comparisons between the average (extremely fortunate) American and the average billionaire, would mock people who claimed that frugal billionaires are a systematic threat to modern life, then soon our time could be spent discussing policy issues that really matter.”

Meanwhile, religious leaders are advocating covetousness:

http://www.truthrevolt.org/news/pope-francis-inequality-root-social-evil

“Inequality is the root of social evil.”

Business Insider and Bayesianism

I’ve used this blog post from economist Bryan Caplan several times to explain Bayesian thinking to people – basically the idea that we should derive our opinions from the sum of information about a topic rather than selected data points (likely chosen because they support our presupposed biases). I recently posted a review of the Business Insider website and pointed out one of the things I enjoy so much are their interest grabbing headlines.

I realized today one of the reasons I like the headlines so much is that they boil what is typically a complex issue down into one definitive assertion. Consider these just from today:

Wall Street’s Brightest Minds Reveal THE MOST IMPORTANT CHARTS IN THE WORLD

The Real Reason Why Market Rallies End

A New Poll Shows Americans Don’t Actually Understand Anything About The Deficit

The most important chart in the world, the real reason rallies end, Americans don’t understand anything about the deficit. I’ll quote Kip Dynamite: “Like anyone could know that.” While fun to read, this one blog post is proof that Business Insider is the least Bayesian website on the Internet. 😉

Affordable Care Act Hurts Young People

http://www.forbes.com/sites/realspin/2013/08/21/obamacare-is-really-really-bad-for-you-especially-if-youre-young/

This is a good article which explains some problems with the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) for young people.

First, the proper observation that the ACA is an explicit transfer of wealth from young to old:

“Preventing health insurers from fully accounting for age will not change the reality that, in general, the older you are, the greater your medical expenses (six times greater, when you compare 64-year-olds to 18-year-olds). These are costs that someone has to pay. If insurers can’t charge those older according to their risk, they have to overcharge those younger to make up the cost. In California, for example, once the new health law’s various rate restrictions and other provisions kick in, 25-year-old non-smoking men will see their premiums at least double.”

Next, is an easy to understand case study in why the Affordable Care Act’s mandate on healthcare expenditures make it harder to achieve:

“Even though Brian judges this to be the best way to manage his medical expenses, under the health law, it’s illegal for insurers to offer him a policy geared to his actual risk. Instead, per government mandate, a portion of the income he earns and intends to use to build his life is channeled into the pockets of others.”

Ned continues to campaign against the market distorting mandates included in the Affordable Care Act.