Caught Stealing

And it’s all perfectly legal, because it’s all in the math.

A game with a windfall for a knowing few

Billy’s Beer and Wine sold exactly $47 worth of lottery tickets the day before Marjorie Selbee arrived, just another sleepy day for the liquor store in this tiny Western Massachusetts town. But from the moment the 70-something woman from Michigan entered the store early July 12, Billy’s wasn’t sleepy anymore.

Over the next three days, Selbee bought $307,000 worth of $2 tickets for a relatively obscure game called Cash WinFall, tying up the machine that spits out the pink tickets for hours at a time. Down the road at Jerry’s Place, a coffee shop in South Deerfield, Selbee’s husband, Gerald, was also spending $307,000 on Cash WinFall. Together, the couple bought more than 300,000 tickets for a game whose biggest prize – about $2 million – has been claimed exactly once in the game’s seven-year history.

But the Selbees, who run a gambling company called GS Investment Strategies, know a secret about the Massachusetts State Lottery: For a few days about every three months, Cash WinFall may be the most reliably lucrative lottery game in the country. Because of a quirk in the rules, when the jackpot reaches roughly $2 million and no one wins, payoffs for smaller prizes swell dramatically, which statisticians say practically assures a profit to anyone who buys at least $100,000 worth of tickets.

During these brief periods – “rolldown weeks’’ in gambling parlance – a tiny group of savvy bettors, among them highly trained computer scientists from MIT and Northeastern University, virtually take over the game. Just three groups, including the Selbees, claimed 1,105 of the 1,605 winning Cash WinFall tickets statewide after the rolldown week in May, according to lottery records. They also appear to have purchased about half the tickets, based on reports from the stores that the top gamblers frequent most.

See also:
Elderly Couple Games Lottery, Wins Millions
Elderly Couple Finds Loophole In Massachusetts Lottery
How to Win the Lottery: Couple Profited From Quirk in Massachusetts Cash WinFall Game
Beating the System: Couple Spends $600,000 to Win Lottery Millions
Talk about making your own luck! Elderly couple who spent $600,000 on lottery tickets to win millions in prizes
Massachusetts Lottery Loophole Virtually Guaranteed a Profit
Massachusetts Lottery Players Exploit Game for Profit
How three groups collected almost 70% of lottery winnings
Gamblers find loophole in Mass. lottery game
Lottery scheme appears to cause trouble for area outlets
Massachusetts restricts lottery ticket sales after couple cracks secret to winning millions
Lottery restricts high-level players
Broken Lotteries

How stupid is Massachusetts for not catching this after the first time? Limiting the amount of tickets an outlet can sell in a day now is a lot like closing the barn door after the horse is long gone.

/oh well, all good things must come to an end and the Selbees are laughing all the way to the bank

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Budget Hero 2.0

Find out how hard it really is to get us out of the economic mess we’re in. Do you have a better fiscal plan than Paul Ryan’s road map, can you destroy the country as quickly as Obama’s reckless spending spree?

Computer game gives people shot at managing budget

Think you might do better than President Barack Obama and congressional leaders in picking and choosing what government spending to cut — or taxes to raise — to stave off a debt showdown that could wreck the economy? A new computer game gives you, too, the chance to play “Budget Hero.”

“Budget Hero 2.0” is an update of an original version that came out in 2008. It shows players just how difficult it might be to carry out their grand policy objectives — universal health care, extending the Bush tax cuts or ending foreign aid — and still keep the government from either becoming irrelevant, or going broke.

“Our timing turns out to be perfect,” said former Rep. Jane Harman, D-Calif., who resigned this year to head the Woodrow Wilson Center, a nonpartisan think tank that developed the game with American Public Media.

Play the game:

Budget Hero 2.0

See also:
Budget Hero 2.0: Fun with debt ceilings!
Get Ready To Get Your Game On And Save The Country! (Civic Duty Meets Casual Gaming)
Computer Game Lets You Be a ‘Budget Hero’
Computer game gives people shot at managing budget
New Game Allows Users to Take a Crack at the Debt Ceiling
Computer game offers a chance to solve fiscal crisis
Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
American Public Media
American Public Media

Okay, okay, so the game was developed by Lefties, as disclosed above. It’s still somewhat amusing, factual, and pertinent to our current predicament.

/give it a whirl, be a Budget Hero

Get With The Program

Cut, cap, balance. Get used to hearing those three words, because they’re going to be the “drill baby drill” mantra of the 2012 election cycle. It’s a winning issue and our country’s fiscal survival depends on it.

Cut, cap and balance

This week a group of serious, committed advocacy organizations banded together to send a clear message to Washington and urged members of Congress to sign their pledge, titled “Cut, Cap and Balance.”

. . .

So what are the right things to do, according to the pledge?

Cut — Substantial cuts in spending that will reduce the deficit next year and thereafter.

Cap — Enforceable spending caps that will put federal spending on a path to a balanced budget.

Balance — Passage of a balanced-budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution — but only if it includes both a spending limitation and a supermajority for raising taxes, in addition to balancing revenues and expenses.

Take the pledge:

Cut Cap Balance Pledge

See also:
The Fiscal Pledge We Need: Cut, Cap, Balance
Conservative Lawmakers Sign Pledge Demanding Cuts, Caps & Balanced Budget Amendment in Debt Limit Deal
Coalition Calls for ‘Cut, Cap, And Balance’ on Capitol Hill
Conservative groups, lawmakers officially roll out Cut, Cap, Balance Pledge
Lawmakers sign pledge to balance the budget
Cut, cap, balance to save economy
CBO Warning Bolsters ‘Cut, Cap and Balance’
Cut, Cap and Balance–As in the Budget–Full-Speed Ahead
Cut, Cap, Balance: How to Address the Debt Ceiling Issue
Behind the GOP’s ‘Cut, Cap, Balance’ Pledge
Can Conservatives’ ‘Cut, Cap and Balance Pledge’ Cure Spending Problem?

Go to the pledge website, work your e-mail, work your phone. Do whatever you can to get your Congressional representatives to sign on to the Cut, Cap, and Balance Pledge. Just do it, do it now.

/and if they won’t sign on, make sure you do your part to vote them out of office

Running On Empty

Actually, we’re running beyond empty now. The United States can’t legally borrow any more money until Congress acts to raise the debt ceiling.

US government hits debt ceiling, lighting 11-week fuse

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner informed Congress on Monday that the United States has reached its legal debt limit, setting off a ticking time bomb that could explode in less than three months if lawmakers can’t bridge differences and allow more government borrowing.

In hitting the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling – the limit on how much the government can borrow – the Obama administration on Monday began temporarily halting payments to the retirement and federal pension accounts of federal workers and started borrowing from those funds, to be restored later.

Geithner sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., warning that the government can move money around for about 11 weeks but if a new debt ceiling isn’t agreed to by Aug. 2, the U.S. government could effectively default on its obligations to its creditors. He warned of “catastrophic economic consequences for citizens” unless Congress raises the debt ceiling.

An increase of about $2 trillion is expected, enough to get the issue past the 2012 elections before Congress would have to lift it again.

Republicans who control the House of Representatives vow to link raising the debt ceiling to cuts in government spending of at least equal measure. In a combative statement Monday, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, upped the ante.

“As I have said numerous times, there will be no debt limit increase without serious budget reforms and significant spending cuts, cuts that are greater than any increase in the debt limit.” Boehner has called previously for $2 trillion in spending cuts as part of any deal to raise the debt ceiling.

See also:
US hits $14 trillion debt limit
US Hits Debt Ceiling, But Treasury Market Rules Out Default For Now
Deja Vu, But No Disaster: U.S. Government Hits Debt Ceiling
U.S. Hits Debt Limit, Sky Doesn’t Fall
U.S. hit debt limit today
Treasury Tapping Federal Retirement Accounts to Stave Off Default
Turbo Tim Raids Pension Plans
With Debt Limit Maxed Out, Lawmakers Hold Firm On Remedy
Rep. Jordan: U.S. won’t default if debt ceiling isn’t raised
U.S. National Debt Clock

Well, we hit the debt ceiling and, despite all the Democrat Chicken Little hysteria, the Sun didn’t explode, the seas didn’t boil, and the markets didn’t plunge thousands of points. Go figure.

/all I can say is that the Republicans had better stand firm and hold their ground this time and hold out for concrete, verifiable spending cuts that at least equal the amount of any debt limit increase

The Path To Prosperity

Adult swim, Democrats out of the pool!

Republicans embrace Rep. Ryan’s government budget plan for 2012

House Republicans announced a far-reaching vision for a leaner federal government on Tuesday, presenting a 2012 budget blueprint that would privatize Medicare for future retirees, cut spending on Medicaid and other domestic programs, and offer sharply lower tax rates to corporations and the wealthy.

The proposal represents the most comprehensive philosophical statement by resurgent Republicans since they claimed control of the House in last fall’s midterm elections. It promises to define the party heading into the 2012 presidential election and to shape the policy debate in Washington as both parties grapple with a soaring national debt.

Drafted by House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the proposal aims to eventually shrink federal spending, measured against the economy, to its lowest level since 1949. Ryan said the plan would create jobs, promote growth, and rebuild an economy ravaged by recession and “relentless government spending, taxing and borrowing.”

Read the budget proposal:

The Path to Prosperity

See also:
House Republicans unveil ‘Path to Prosperity’ budget cuts
U.S. Republicans present budget plan with massive cuts
Proposal Transforms Role of Government
The CBO scores Paul Ryan
The Ryan Resolution
GOP budget proposal would cut feds, extend pay freeze
Ryan Rides To The Rescue With Realistic Budget Plan
Editorial: Ryan’s Budget Plan Gets The Job Done
The GOP Path to Prosperity

Right on cue, the Democrats are already squealing like stuck pigs being electrocuted in an acid bath. Children will die, senior citizens will be forced to eat cat food! Brace yourself, because the cynical and deceitful doomsday din will only get louder. Gird yourself for the 2012 elections, Republicans need to oust Obama, take the Senate, and hold the House in order to wrangle this country back onto the road to fiscal sanity. The Democrats’ irresponsible and ruinous spending gravy train must be brought to an end, the status quo is unsustainable and not an option. Vote Republican to save this country’s future from the economic abyss.

/the Path to Prosperity won’t be painless, but it has to be taken, the other road leads the United States down the third world drain

How Do You “Invest” When You’re Broke?

Hey Obama, what part of “we don’t have any money” don’t you understand?

CBO: Federal deficit to hit $1.5T this year

Last month’s bipartisan tax cuts and spending deal has deepened the federal deficit dramatically this year, putting the government on track for a nearly $1.5 trillion shortfall — the largest in history — the Congressional Budget Office said Wednesday.

The sobering check on the country’s finances was announced a day after President Obama‘s address to Congress and underscored the country’s tenuous fiscal standing, which could doom many of Mr. Obama‘s initiatives to boost government spending on education, roads and other infrastructure.

The CBO did say the economy appears to be improving, albeit slowly, from a deep recession that drove the unemployment rate to more than 10 percent. The rate is still above 9 percent, despite efforts by Mr. Obama and Congress to pump money into the economy.

“It’s been a slow recovery by the standards of our past. The labor market in particular has been coming back slowly; income has been coming back slowly,” said CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf.

Social Security Will Post Shortfall This Year, CBO Says

Social Security will post a $45 billion shortfall in fiscal 2011 and will pay out more in benefits than it accepts in payroll taxes through at least 2021 without legislative changes, the Congressional Budget office said on Wednesday.

See also:
The Budget and Economic Outlook: Fiscal Years 2011 to 2021
CBO projects record-high $1.5 trillion budget deficit this year
As deficits, debt soar, Obama, Congress fail to confront them
Deficit Outlook Darkens
CBO forecast: frightening fodder for both parties
It’s official: The debt is ballooning. Now can we think clearly?
Social Security to Run Deficits for Foreseeable Future, CBO Says
Social Security fund now seen to be empty by 2037
Social Security to Operate in the Red for the Next 10+ Years: CBO
Social Security to run permanent deficits, says CBO
CBO: Social Security Will Run Permanent Deficits
A Roadmap for America’s Future

I swear, Is Paul Ryan the only adult in Washington? When are these moron politicians going pay attention, grow some spines, and start taking this fiscal crisis seriously. Every day that goes by, we dig ourselves deeper into the national debt hole and it becomes ever so much more difficult and painful to try and climb out of our self inflicted, bottomless deficit pit.

/we’d better just forget about pie in the sky choo choo trains and go straight to the required austerity budget measures

Time To Pay The Piper

Back in February, Obama created the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform to come up with solutions to our $14 trillion national debt problem, a good chunk of that debt created by Obama himself. Anyway, after ten months of deep thought, the commission has released a report that they don’t even agree on.

Presenting plan to cut deficit, commission members offer surprising compromises

Members of President Obama’s bipartisan deficit commission expressed a surprising willingness Wednesday to compromise on issues that have long divided Republicans and Democrats, including raising taxes and cutting Social Security.

Confronted with a deficit-reduction plan loaded with political dynamite, members from both parties set aside ideological orthodoxy at least briefly, sparking hope that their work could ignite a serious effort to reduce government debt and spare the nation from a European-style fiscal crisis.

While only seven of the 18 members endorsed the package outright, others staked out positions that could change the terms of the well-worn Washington debate over taxes and spending

Read the report:

The Moment of Truth
REPORT OF THE NATIONAL COMMISSION ON FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY AND REFORM

See also:
Map is offered to slash deficit
Deficit Plan Released by Obama Commission, Few Expect Consensus
A time to govern
Deficit Commission Report receives mixed support
The Deficit Commission Report Is Dead Before Arrival
Deficit Panel Ideas to Lack Needed Support: Conrad
Obama Deficit Commission Plan Won’t Win 14 Votes
U.S. Deficit-Cutting Panel’s $3.8 Trillion Plan on Brink of Being Rejected
Deficit commission: four reasons it could fail
Majority on deficit panel expected to back its recommendations
Obama’s fiscal commission to win majority for deficit cuts
Vote set for controversial debt-slashing plan
National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform

Even though no one seems to agree on exactly what to do about the deficits and debt, at least they’re starting to talk about it. That’s a good thing. The longer we wait to make the hard choices that are absolutely necessary for the country’s long term fiscal survival, they harder the choices get, and they’re already hard now. If it was easy to solve this problem, it would have been solved by now.

/according to Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Michael Mullen, “The most significant threat to our national security is our debt”