On the lottery, the infamous tax on the poor, a £49m jackpot

I saw a TV commercial for the next Euromillion lottery draw. There is a £49,000,000 estimated jackpot. That would come handy, wouldn’t it? You could even buy a couple of banks these days.

It is commonly said that lottery is a tax on the poor. Let’s see why:

The theory:
A k-combination is a subset with k elements. The number of k-combinations (each of size k) from a set S with n elements (size n) is the binomial coefficient (also known as the “choose function”):

Where n is the number of objects from which you can choose and k is the number to be chosen, and n! denotes the factorial (the product of all positive integers less than or equal to n). Ein?

For the layman:

Winning selections (Odds)
Jackpot – Match 6 main numbers (1 in 13,983,816)
Match 5 main numbers plus the bonus number (1 in 2,330,636)
Match 5 main numbers (1 in 55,492)

Match 4 main numbers (1 in 1,033)

Match 3 main numbers (1 in 57)

If you look at lottery as a means of getting rich, forget about it, an odd player playing a lucky dip has statistically the same chances of winning the jackpot than someone who plays the same numbers week in, week out for a year. 1 in 13,983,816 chance or 0.0000000715 per cent for the one-off player and 52 in 13,983,816 or 0.00000371 per cent for the lotto junkie.

According to several sociological studies, the wealthiest and the poorest people are least likely to take a chance on the lottery. I thought that having a mortgage, a car and a terraced home was a sign of middle class, but since I use to play Euromillion online every week, I must have been one of the struggling masses. I stopped doing it in March, so I guess that I crawled out of poverty!

Of course, someone will get rich, but don’t forget it, it is just a game. Becoming addict to the weekly draw, playing always the same numbers or playing more than one combination at a time, is a waste of money. A tax on middle and poor classes. Governments should be ashamed of fooling their own customers, sorry their own citizens.

As the old Russian proverb goes, pray to God, but keep rowing to shore. Don’t expect government bailouts of any kind, you are your own bailout.



On talking about the weather and the hell we are going through

February 2, 2009. What a day to remember. It was a Monday, right after… a Sunday.

Freezing weather from the East brought us the “biggest snowstorms in 18 years!”

No trains in or out of London, no buses in the city, curiously even the underground underground services cancelled… the great ex-Imperial capital brought to its knees by some fluffy snowflake and its mates.

And the aftermath? Politicians, pundits and £19k journalists started the usual witch hunt.

The journalists with a 7-day memory: The city wasn’t ready for the snowstorm even though we had known it was coming for four days (aka incompetence argument)

Continue reading

On taxpayers being fooled again, 2% VAT reduction? In this sale season, I see it like a helping hand for retail businesses

So, as of December 1 darling Darling told us that the VAT rate in the United Kingdom would go down a massive 2% from 17.5% to 15.0% (-14.28%)..

At first signs of Germany getting into trouble, they rose their VAT rate last January 1, 2007 from 16% to 19% (+18.75%). At the time, everybody thought the Germans were nuts, but almost 24 months after they started paying more in Value Added Tax, they even felt like telling off the British chancellor when the pre-budget report came out.

Continue reading

On satirising business in the UK, trying to pay a VAT return to HM Revenue & Customs

Oh Hobbes! Her Majesty the Queen must be so jolly these days! The first waves of the financial tsunami are drowning the young, the old and the sick who don’t know how to or need help to swim. Other waves will come, but she must feel safe surrounded by an army of trained civil servants.

Not that I am proud of, but today I realised that miscommunication within our Very Ltd. corporation had potentially made a mistake with our VAT return (deadline date, 31 December). Continue reading

On drivers loosing concentration or Council’s credit crunch short-term solution to empty coffers

Today on my daily commute to work (South Bucks to Central London) I have noticed a novelty to my rather dull drive.

Today, the 20-odd miles have turned into a journey of anthropological and public finances discovery. In 25 minutes I have seen 7 drivers pulled (or being pulled) over by police.

I am pretty sure that that is no coincidence. It cannot be. I spent my midday drive wondering about possible reasons for the unusually high level of speeders. Is it the credit crunch that makes every single driver pre-occupied and unaware of mobile and static speeding cameras. Continue reading

On governments mimicking Buffett, funding pension shortcomings with part-nationalisations

Long life to capitalism! So first Warren Buffett and now Wells and Fargo gets the upper hand.
That’s a bit of hope for those who still believe in human nature, not shooting in the dark with no ideas or control.

Amongst all this turmoil, I  don’t get yet why in free markets like UK or US they don’t do a Moscow (suspending temporarily trading). I know that a few weeks ago I supported the opposite view, but human nature and the trumpeted “wisdom of crowds” (or lack of any wisdom at all) requires of exceptional measures like those applied to that lady passenger on 1980’s Airplane! Continue reading

On European fuel prices and the lessons that OPEC countries can learn from Norway

Let’s be the devil’s advocate for a minute. I was perusing the other side of the coin, and I found this interesting marketing act put together last year by the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

As unlikely as it may sound, if transport and fishing workers united their arguments with OPEC’s against the European governments, not only they would raise their case more strongly, but it would remind us of USA supporting Sadam or financing and training Osama and friends in Afghanistan. Continue reading