Froma Harrop - Football & gaming: what could go wrong?

They worship at the high altar of football. They're everywhere. I don't give a fig about football, but the cult surrounds me. In the offseason, the devotees were stomping the floor over Tom Brady and a football's air pressure. They demanded to know my opinion on the matter. That I had none amazed them.

The season is in full frenzy, and with it, a new controversy: the explosive growth of gambling on fantasy football. Run by such corporate giants as FanDuel and DraftKings, daily fantasy sports are Internet-based games where one assembles a virtual team of real players and bets on how well it will perform.

Football and gambling — two great American addictions working together. What could possibly go wrong?

Lots, mainly because of the supreme confidence of the zealots. They claim to know all the players and coaches, their weaknesses, their strengths, their girlfriends, their concussions. They know exactly which part of his hamstrings LeSean McCoy of the Buffalo Bills pulled and what that means for the game. So if anyone can get rich betting on football outcomes, they can, so many think.

A 2006 federal law banned online games of chance but left a loophole for fantasy sports betting, viewing it as a game of skill. My friends who've played say they are competing with so many people and there are so many unknowns in the sport that winning is basically, excuse the expression, "a crapshoot".

In any case, few anticipated the boom in online sports betting and enormous profits to be made (for the "house," as always). For the month ended Sept. 15, the fantasy sports industry spent more on commercials during the games than pizza and beer companies.

Whether such online fantasy sports are about skill or chance, they are most certainly about competition for the gambling dollar. Many states have banned the game, including, to no one's surprise, Nevada.

The 2006 law was championed by former Rep. Jim Leach of Iowa. He recently criticized the carve-out for fantasy football as a mistake. "My intent in initiating the law was to constrain a growing gambling ethos in America," Leach said. Right. Iowa is home to over 20 casinos, making it the 10th-biggest gambling state.
When one puts big-time sports, gambling and online moneymaking together, fraud is inevitable. The FBI and New York attorney general are already looking into the possible use of inside information by employees at these online sports sites to wager at another.

A socio-economic question: We keep hearing about the financial squeeze plaguing America's middle class. Where is all this money for sports coming from?

Americans are being charged huge amounts to watch professional football in person, watch football on pay TV and not watch football on pay TV. (The huge sums that sports channels extort from the cable companies get tacked onto the monthly bills of all subscribers.) Never mind the $75 team sweatshirts and the $50 branded throw blankets.

Now there's all this online betting. The average spending per fantasy player is $465 a year, according to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association. If you put $500 a year into an investment yielding 5 percent, you'd have $7,418 after 10 years. Think about it.

When I ask the guys — and they're mostly guys — why they care so much about seeing big men crashing into other big men over four glacially slow time periods, they say, "You'll never understand". And they're right.

What anyone can see is that football is a quasi-religious passion for many — and that the opportunity to bet on one's deeply held convictions about the game may be dangerously seductive. Small wonder the calls are getting louder to regulate online fantasy sports. In the meantime, tie these guys down.

(A member of the Providence Journal editorial board, Froma Harrop writes a nationally syndicated column from that city. She has written for such diverse publications as The New York Times, Harper's Bazaar and Institutional Investor.)

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Bob Meade - Oxymorons

By definition, an oxymoron is a phrase in which two words of contradictory meanings are used together for special effect, e.g. "wise fool" or "legal murder". Similarly, a dichotomy is a separation where a division within a statement is contradictory . . . for example, "leading from behind". Sadly, particularly in political speak, we are treated to the use of oxymoronic and dichotomic statements on a daily basis. For example some politicians tell us they can grow the economy and create more jobs by raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. They would have us believe that "everyone" should have a living wage and be able to support his or her family, even if performing only the most menial jobs.

Those jobs are often considered "starter jobs", where young people, mostly teenagers, "learn to earn". They learn to get to work on time and be dependable. They learn that the company has rules on how employees are expected to dress and the grooming standards that are expected. They learn that a portion of their wages will go to pay their Social Security and Medicare premiums, and other taxes, and that they will continue to pay those until they reach retirement age. They learn that their job requires that they be respectful to customers and, as needed, to cheerfully assist them. They learn that mom and dad will welcome their movement towards independence and will find that the "allowance" they had always been given had stopped, but their duty to take care of certain household chores had not. They learn that their boss or supervisor in the work place can make job demands and alter work responsibilities and they must cheerfully comply and do those new tasks to the best of their ability. They learn that they, and their co-workers will be evaluated based on their performance. They learn too, that poor performance can mean the loss of the job, and that stellar performance has rewards in increased wages and promotions. They learn that those who learn a number of other job tasks, and perform them well, are often the ones who receive the increased wages and promotions. They also learn to build a little nest egg, putting some of their earnings aside. They learn that it is up to them to make their own charitable contributions and to pay for the gifts to others, and even to start paying for things that they want that mom and dad had always paid for. And, importantly, they learn that their earnings may not always be as big as their wants.

Because the youngster learns that wants can most often only be satisfied by having more income, he or she learns that those earnings can only come from investing the time and effort necessary to learn a skill or receive an education that will give them the opportunity to advance beyond the minimum wage job. Learning to earn means looking ahead, figuring out just what lifestyle you would like to have for yourself and your future family. It means figuring out just what field of endeavor will bring you the most satisfaction. The old adage, "find a job you love to do and you will never have to work a day in your life" has a lot of truth to it. But, after you figure out what field of endeavor gives you the most interest but not the income to satisfy your wants, it is your decision as to whether you cut back on your wants or choose a career that will give you the necessary earnings to satisfy your wants. No one but you is responsible for receiving/earning what you consider to be a "living wage". The value of the job doesn't change because of your wants, you have to adapt by preparing for and finding a job that that has the value needed to support your wants and needs.

The over-riding issue being foisted on people is that the federal government is the solution necessary to satisfy their wants. As MIT Professor Dr. Jonathan Gruber said about "Obamacare", the president, and Democrat leadership, was depending on the people being too stupid to understand the essence of that program, knowing that if the people understood it, they would reject it. Now, we have Senator Sanders and Secretary Clinton telling us that every person is entitled to not only a "living wage", but also "free health care", and the government should provide it. Please consider this, Medicare, which is for people over 65 years of age, or permanently disabled, has over $36 trillion in unfunded liabilities. The proposals to essentially expand Medicare to the entire 317 million population, and to make it "free", would not be free, it would put 20 of our country's economy in the hands of the federal government . . . and the government 's already bloated bureaucracy would not only levy taxes, it would "control" the health care you receive . . . or more likely, you don't receive. A current example of government controlled health care is the outrageous lack of quality service being provided to our veterans by the VA. Your "freedom" to choose your health care would be greatly diminished or taken away.

Probably the greatest example of an oxymoronic or dichotomic statement was given to us by President Reagan when he said, the nine most terrifying words in the English language are, "I'm from the government and I'm here to help."

(Bob Meade is a Laconia resident.)

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Michael Barone - Can either party actually govern?

Important parts of our two great political parties seem bent on demonstrating that their parties are incapable of governing coherently.

House Republican rebels have pushed Speaker John Boehner out the door without advancing a plausible successor and have risked leaving the speaker's chair vacant. Hillary Clinton has backpedaled and flip-flopped to fortify her flagging campaign so much that she risks making herself a figure of fun.

The House rebels are understandably frustrated after five years in the House majority without as many accomplishments as they'd like. They overlook the four-year flat-lining of federal spending obtained by their acceptance of the clumsy sequester limits.

They overlook as well the public response to the impasse over the budget — invariably dubbed a "government shutdown" — in October 2013. Republicans, as the party of less government and one despised by mainstream media, are invariably blamed for shutdowns. Polling showed the Republicans losing their House majority until they ended the shutdown and the woes of healthcare.gov became apparent.

Nonetheless frustration grew. The rebels have not only voted against the leadership on key measures (a common occurrence in history) but sought to oust the speaker in mid-term (very uncommon).

Kevin McCarthy's surprise withdrawal from the speaker's race seems to have left no one who wants the job capable of winning majority support. It's possible that Boehner will stay until January 2017, after which the House will no longer face a Democratic president lacking the inclination and ability to compromise and an unusually obdurate Senate Democratic leader.

It's also possible that the House Republicans might settle on a new leader acceptable enough to the rebels that their majority — their largest since the 1920s — may hold together on key issues.

In that case the current disarray may be as forgotten as the October 2013 shutdown turned out to be in November 2014. But the combination of an unruly field of presidential candidates — with the three who have never held elective office outpolling the 12 who have — and internal turmoil in the House may discredit the party as a governing force.

Unless Democrats discredit themselves even more in the interim. Which may be happening.

Hillary Clinton was expected to enjoy a stately progress back to the White House where she worked as First Lady or conferred as Secretary of State for a dozen years. But the leftward lurch of Democratic voters — at least as pronounced and arguably more politically perilous than the rightward lurch among Republicans — has made the march much less stately.
Behind in polls in New Hampshire, beleaguered in Iowa, effectively matched in fundraising in the last quarter, Clinton has obviously concluded that she must respond to what initially seemed the quixotic challenge of the 73-year-old socialist Bernie Sanders.

And as her poll numbers fall, the chances increase of a threat from the 72-year-old Vice President Joe Biden. Her response has been to skitter as rapidly as possible to the left on multiple issues from her previous positions and from those of her husband. The problem is that there is no entirely dignified way to change your clothes in public. Democratic primary voters may not be fazed by her leftward lurches on gun control, illegal immigrants and the Keystone XL pipeline, though each might hurt her in November.

More startling is her switch on the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement just negotiated by the Obama administration. Clinton praised TPP, then being seriously negotiated, 45 times when she was secretary of state, as CNN's Jake Tapper has documented.

Just last year she praised TPP as the "gold standard" of trade agreements. In your probably-not-dog-eared copy of her 2014 memoir "Hard Choices" you can read her describing it as "the signature economic pillar of our strategy in Asia".

Her flip-flop on the issue now comes even as she admits to not knowing the details. "As of today, I am not in favor of what I have learned about it," she told PBS. This is so intellectually threadbare that even the liberal analyst Ezra Klein says she "is again looking like the kind of candidate who puts polls in front of policy."

The political calculation is obvious: preempt attacks from Sanders on the left and isolate Biden, who is supporting TPP, on the right. But it's not the sort of thing that will generate enthusiasm and gin up turnout for a candidacy currently in disarray or respect for a candidate who seems increasingly unserious about governing.

(Syndicated columnist Michael Barone is senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner, is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and co-author of The Almanac of American Politics.)

 

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Jim Hightower - We? Who's we?

The negotiations and the sales push behind Washington's latest (and biggest) "free trade" agreement amounts to Kabuki theater.

What theater? Kabuki. It's a 17th-century form of Japanese drama, featuring elaborate sets and costuming, rhythmic dialogue and stylized acting and dancing. That does, indeed, nicely sum up the White House's production of the Trans-Pacific Partnership: Its negotiations have been set in luxury resorts around the world, covered by elaborate secrecy; insiders wear the costumes of global corporate power; trade officials parrot rhythmic dialogue about high standards and incredible benefits for all. And the president himself is the main actor, dramatically proclaiming that TPP is "the most progressive" trade deal ever, and now he's doing a stylized political dance in hopes of winning congressional approval.

What a phenomenal show!

But it doesn't seem to be selling. Recent polls show broad public opposition to any more of these same old trade schemes, not only among Democrats, but independents and Republicans, too. Ten of the 2016 presidential candidates are against the deal. The counter movement is led by Democratic contender Bernie Sanders, who calls it flat-out "disastrous," and by GOP frontrunner Donnie Trump who dubs it "a horrible deal". Even corporate darling Carly Fiorina is "very uncomfortable with this deal". Congressional opposition is strong, and even Ford Motor Company — which was one of the corporate giants allowed inside the negotiations — has blasted it, calling on Congress to vote no.

Inexplicably, Obama views passage of this democracy-strangling corporate boondoggle as his "legacy-making" achievement, even though the only real support he has for it are Republican congressional leaders and the global corporate establishment. That's not just Kabuki; it's kooky. As the old aphorism puts it: "Tell me with whom you walk, and I'll tell you who you are."

In Obama's pitch to get the public and Congress to swallow the glob of global corporate greed known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the president has resorted to a tacky bit of China bashing. He recently crowed that, "Under this agreement we, rather than countries like China, are writing the rules for the global economy." This bizarre backhanded slap at a major trading partner is meant to tell us that Big Bad China would've written global trade rules to hurt the American people.
Gosh, Americans don't need enemies like China when we've got "protectors" like Obama. Aside from the fact that we and our allies would never agree to such biased rules, even if the Chinese were stupid enough to propose them, Obama's deceitful assertion contains two self-destructive bombshells, both tucked inside the word "we".

First, if okayed by Congress, this TPP scam would offshore a whole new round of America's middle-class jobs, hold down or even lower U.S. wages, flood our market with unsafe imported food, free Wall Street banksters from oversight and empower global corporations to use private "trade tribunals" of corporate lawyers to usurp our people's sovereignty. In fact, only six of the 30 chapters of this so-called trade agreement even deal with trade. How embarrassing that our own president would claim credit for doing such explosive damage to the American people! I'm guessing that even China would not have done worse.

Secondly, Obama's entire TPP theater is blown to bits by his assertion that "we ... are writing the rules." Who's "we"? Were you consulted? Did you even know that a tiny group of unelected people have been meeting in secret for seven years to write "rules" for you, me and 330 million other Americans? In fact, only about 600 corporate executives and lobbyists were allowed to be at the table, writing rules to benefit themselves at our expense.

It's a disgrace that Obama is acting and even lying for these self-serving kleptocratic corporate powers. To keep track of the TPP and get involved, go to www.citizen.org/trade/.

(Jim Hightower has been called American's most popular populist. The radio commentator and former Texas Commissioner of Agriculture is author of seven books, including "There's Nothing In the Middle of Road but Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos" and his new work, "Swim Against the Current: Even Dead Fish Can Go With The Flow".)

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Sanborn — Winni Waterfront Sales Report - September 2015

September was a banner month for Winnipesaukee waterfront sales with a total of 27 transactions at an average sales price of $916,660 and a median price point of $675,000. All but six of those sales were mainland sales and there were ten sales over the million dollar mark. Last September there were just 14 sales. This brings our total number of sales on Winnipesaukee to 127 so far this year at an average price of $1,087,481 compared to 93 at an average price of $1,104,983 for the same period in 2014. That's a 37 percent increase in waterfront sales on the big lake. Pretty outstanding!

The entry level sale once again was an island property at 556 Rattlesnake Island in Alton. This 1971 vintage, four room, two bedroom cottage has 700 square feet of open concept living space, cathedral ceilings, pine paneling, and lots of glass on the waterside to enjoy the view. There's a wrap around deck, another deck down by the water, and a 6' x 30' dock. There's even a fire pit so you can keep a blaze going to ward off the rattlesnakes at night. That's a must on Rattlesnake Island. The cottage sits on a .9 acre lot with 149' of sandy bottom frontage that gets sun all day long. This property was listed at $325,000, was reduced to $299,000, and sold for $264,000 after just 58 days on the market. It is assessed at $251,500.

The median price point sale was at 41 Spindle Point Road in Meredith. This five room, two bedroom, 676 square foot cottage was built in 1955 on a .55 acre lot with 300 feet of westerly facing frontage and a U-Shaped seasonal dock. There was little info in the MLS and no pictures of the interior so this sale was likely all about the lot. It sold at full price at $675,000 in just five days and is currently assessed for $660,300.

The big dog for the month was over at 107 Clay Point in Alton. This spectacular home was built in 2008 and has 5,293 square feet of living space with four bedrooms, two full, and two three quarter baths. This property has all the quality and features that one would expect at this price point. There is a two story great room with hardwood floors and a floor to ceiling fireplace, stunning kitchen with custom cabinetry, granite, and Viking appliances, formal dining room, first floor master suite, and comfortable family room. Outside there are huge porches overlooking manicured lawns, gardens, and spectacular sunset views across the lake. There's 150' of frontage providing plenty of space for a 23' x 44' boat house and a 36' slip with protective breakwater. This home originally sold for $3.2 million when it was built and was listed in April of this year for $3.8 million. It was reduced to $3.499 million and then sold at $3.275 million after 120 days on the market. It is currently assessed at $3.337 million. I think I could live there...

Over on Winnisquam there was just one sale at 17 Lakeside Ave in Sanbornton. This is a forties vintage, four bedroom, two bath home with 2,886 square feet of living space so there's plenty of room for everyone to come on those long summer weekends. The house has an eat-in kitchen, formal dining room, living room and family room, two fireplaces and a covered porch to sit an tell stories on. It sits on a quarter acre lot with 85' of frontage and broad sunrise views. This property was listed at $499,900 and sold for $492,000 after 50 days on the market. It is assessed at $527,320.

P​ease feel free to visit www.lakesregionhome.com to learn more about the Lakes Region real estate market and comment on this article and others. Data compiled using the NNEREN MLS system as of 10/12/15. ​Roy Sanborn is a sales associate at Four Seasons Sotheby's International Realty and can be reached at 603-677-7012.

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