Problem Gambling Foundation And Te Ururoa Flavell

I was working on a post about the Problem Gambling Foundation and Te Ururoa Flavell’s gambling harm reduction bill that got watered down completely. What I found was concerning. There simply isn’t enough economic thinking being applied to this “problem” that is primarily internalised by problem gamblers.

The whole area of gambling reform seems to be driven by big numbers similar to those thrown around by anti-tobacco and anti-alcohol groups. There is also a plethora of non-profits who get a hell of a lot of taxpayer money.

For an indication of why I am going to do some more research into this stuff, check this Powerpoint presentation that Te Ururoa Flavell gave to the Commerce Committee:

I particularly like the idea that gambling losses are “public money”, that somehow naughty gambling industry operators “owe” the community something. Did you know that some problem gambling foundations have even received money from pokie trusts? Bootleggers & baptists much?

I am going to do a bit more reading on this before commenting on how non profit groups work with MPs to design legislation just the way big business works with MPs to design legislation. The idea that a non-profit entity is not a firm that wants to maximise its profits in the form of salaries & other forms of compensation is ludicrous.


What Brendan Horan Tells Us About Our Media

The NZ First MP Brendan Horan turned up for work today. He’s been booted from NZ First by Winston Peters because there are allegations yet to be proven in court that something is fishy with Mr Horan’s late mother’s estate.

This tells us that our media are absolutely pathetic. They have forgotten the maxim of innocent until proven guilty and entered ever more depraved waters over the past few decades.

The New Zealand media are worse than useless. They are primarily staffed (radio, print and TV) by dullards. There are a handful of insightful commentators and good interviewers, but to call the rest “hacks” would actually be a compliment.

The fact that some allegation against an MP can take precedence overactual problems experienced every day by Kiwisshows that we should rejoice at Fairfax Media layoffs and the increasing reliance on online media.

While it might be newsworthy that Brendan Horan made a lot of calls to the TAB, it’s more newsworthy that ourentire political class on both sides of the Houseare gambling with New Zealand’s future and not being held to account by anyone in the media.

No matter how this case turns out – Horan resigning, getting charged with theft perhaps – it’s just another reminder of what a terrible media we have.

You’d think that there was some semblance of neutrality or independent thinking going on inside the Beltway. But you’d be entirely wrong.

How about investigating how most Kiwis never get pay rises?

How about investigating how most Kiwis have no chance of ever getting out of debt because they can’t get any more hours at their casualised workplace?

How about investigating how lots of businesses are taking the piss when it comes to marking up imported goods and services?

The correlation of beliefs and opinions of policy options the government should take to lead NZ out of recession are so similar you might as well call it how it is : our political class and our media are the same people and care more about gossip than critical examination of the direction this country is going in.

Anti Money Laundering And Barriers To Trade

Over at Offsetting Behaviour, Eric Crampton despairs over the difficulty of executing arbitrage trades with respect to the US election.

For just $8.88 he could make a guaranteed return of ~10% by purchasing an InTrade Romney contract and a BetFair Obama contract.

He quotes the terms & conditions at Intrade which make it hard to deposit money in order to comply with anti-money laundering rules.

But anti-money laundering requirements are not just barriers to performing arbitrage on electoral events.

They function as barriers to actual country-to-country trade. Just think about how hard it would be for a developing country exporter to have all the correct documentation and paperwork to open a US bank account and receive payment for commodities on account. Essentially, incumbent commodities firms have an edge because they will be able to put deals together faster than an ostensibly cheaper developing country supplier.

Imposing greater “know your client” rules functions as a barrier to entry. If you can’t get an account set up in the first place because you’re starting up a business in the developing world, you’ll have to rely on more expensive banking services.

You might even skip the mainstream banking system altogether, relying on immigrant cash transfer networks.

There are so many second-order effects of anti-money laundering legislation. Making it harder to take advantage of goods arbitrage opportunities is just one I can think of.