Thank You To My Readers

I wanted to take this moment to personally say thank you to those of you that follow my blog. Honestly, writing each day has its challenges. Writing an opinion, for me, should create a bit of professionally minded controversy to get us talking about problems, situations, and sometimes hidden unspeakables that we are afraid to base our opinion on. I don’t intend to write to fuel the flames or to be compared to “shock jocks” in the media. Rather I write in hopes to provide a voice for the opposition or concerns from those that cannot seem to get in front of the microphone. It is my wish that others would blog more to foster a better understanding of one another without becoming overly emotional or critical of the writer. The focus should be the subject, and we should scrutinize it carefully not to silence each other, but to be heard equally, fairly, and open minded.

 

Many of you know that I am in graduate school at the University of South Dakota. Next week is spring break. I will take one week off beginning next week to have some much needed free time. I will return to my blogs on the following week. Again, thank you all, and I look forward to your comments and feedback.

 

Sam

Has The Lottery Lost Its Appeal?

Sometimes I wonder if Donald Trump didn’t invent the typical American lottery system. After all American style lotteries inflate its actual lump sum to what you could win if you take the money over nearly three decades. Yesterday the Powerball lottery drawing had a jackpot of over 435 million dollars. (someone actually won on a single ticket) But the reality is that once you calculate the lump sum option and federal taxes, then you walk away with perhaps $182 million. Don’t forget about your state revenue wanting its cut which will reduce that sum.

 

I am not implying that I wouldn’t be appreciative to winning the lottery. However, I would at least like to win without having the additional taxes and not be paid over 30 years. Why can’t we have our lotteries like Great Britain, Canada or other nations that don’t tax its winners? Additionally, they pay in a lump sum. What is most helpful in those lotteries is that they have a cap on jackpot winnings. That means, for example, the UK Lottery cannot be above 170 million British pounds. So the additional contributions to its lottery scheme do not require bond investments as opposed to our lottery.

 

What I do like about internationally based lotteries is that they keep its winners anonymous. There are no published reports in the media about winners unless the winner wants to be identified. I like that idea because it allows recipients the option of not being identified by criminals or those that want to harass winners for loans or other financial gains. American lotteries in only a few select states have anonymous rules. Perhaps we should do the same to reduce liabilities to potential winners. After all, we tax the hell out of the winner and then plaster the name and address of where they live. It’s almost as if winning the lottery will not only change your life but become expensive to return to some normalcy of life and privacy.

 

There are mixed feelings about the lottery. Does it actually provide a tax revenue to certain state funded programs? Does the lottery constitute a double taxation because of purchase and winning standards? All in all, the lottery is a bunch of hype with outrageous jackpots only created to give it marketing appeal. Yes, there are winners and life changing moments for some. It does have an appreciation level. But the lottery should take a step back and become a bit more realistic with jackpots similar to European standards. The federal government should halt its exploitation of the lottery and create a tax-free zone for lottery winners. Lottery winners are the ones that make lavish purchases giving back to tax bases. Maybe we are tired of the lottery because despite playing, we are not winning. I think the lottery is losing its appeal. This is why we should reevaluate how the lottery contributes to our system.

Do Not Call Registry Ineffective

Have you ever received a telephone call from an unknown number? Of course, this is typical, and in most cases, we don’t answer the call. But what if you receive a telephone call from perhaps a legitimate number and person only to discover that the caller ID information is inaccurate. This type of inaccuracy of information is provided by what is termed as “spoofing.” When I think of the recent fake news reporting, I also think of letters in the mail pretending to be legitimate businesses and telephone spoofing. It is so out of control that this is perhaps one key reason that texting has outpaced the traditional phone call.

Spoofing has been going on for over a decade, and it seems far from the problem going away. What makes spoofing a problem is that such technology makes the national Do Not Call Registry ineffective. If you receive a telephone call from a spoofing number but turns out to be a telemarketer from a call center in India then reporting that information only pings the number used; not the number actually being called from.

Who is to blame? The primary responsibility is software distributors that sell programs with the intention to defraud legitimacy. However, software publishers will always use the “for entertainment use only” caption to remove it from liabilities. This is nonsense, and federal or national law enforcement agencies should be ashamed to allow this to continue. The next blame assessment is the telephony providers themselves. These are the same companies that charge a fee to consumers for caller ID services, blocking services, and anonymous rejection plans. Even if you pay for the premium telephone feature, you are not getting what you paid for because spoofing overrides all those features. Phone providers seem only interested in profitability versus public safety or credibility. Businesses are just as much to blame because they lay claim that telephone information won’t be used for telemarketing purposes. Yeah, right.

Lastly, Congress is to blame. They are the very body of government that introduced the Do Not Call Registry but placed a caveat in the law that won’t allow political calls to be blocked. Therefore just before and after an election, the telemarketing calls flow because political groups do not discard the telephone listings correctly. Just think about the Democratic National Convention hacked records. How many phone numbers do you say were released back into the calling pattern to hinder further the effectiveness of the Do Not Call Registry? I am willing to bet a significant amount.

Data security and telephony information is in my opinion at a critical stage. Our smartphones and telephone services are an important infrastructure and a source of our daily requirements. Phone providers must do more to help not only businesses but consumers of the credibility of the services we buy. Federal agencies must do more to combat fraudulent spoofing and impersonation. Congress should do its part by removing its clause from existing law to help protect its constituents.