Political arbitrage can soothe our polarized country
With apologies to Jonathan Swift…
Do you despise President Trump so much that you are bewildered that he received 63 million votes when you can’t fathom how he received even one? Do you seethe with rage when he threatens to ignore the election results because of “fraudulent” mail-in ballots? Are you apoplectic that the antiquated Electoral College enabled him to become president after losing by 3 million votes? Does your blood pressure surge to stratospheric levels as he as he gives lifetime judicial appointments to conservative ideologues who are barely out of diapers?
Are you a hard core Trumpster who is bewildered that virtually every poll shows your man is about to go down? How can anyone vote out a president that presided over three years of peace and prosperity until he had bad luck with COVID? How could anyone vote for a corrupt career politician that has flip-flopped on every issue in the past 47 years? How can anyone vote for someone who wants to confiscate your guns, defund the police and allow rioters to threaten your family as your 911 call goes to an answering service?
No matter what camp you fall into, you are helpless. Yes, you can listen to all the political ads telling you that your vote counts, but you know it’s a scam. Did any vote you have ever cast make a difference – president, mayor, dogcatcher, prom queen? You can contribute money to your preferred candidate, but in a campaign that will run into billions of dollars, you’re spitting in the ocean. Plus, you will be placed on the sucker list of every other like-minded candidate. You can go door-to-door for your candidate and pray no one sics their pit bull on you. And posting your opinions on Facebook just gets you trolled by deranged political junkies and doesn’t change a single vote.
But if you want to preserve your sanity, there is a solution: political arbitrage. Arbitrage is the financial term for the simultaneous buying and selling of the same asset in various markets in the hope of making a profit. In political arbitrage, the profit is your sanity and the asset is a wager on who you want to lose.
Perhaps an example will make this clearer. Let’s say you prefer Donald Trump. Just wager a substantial amount of money that Biden will win. Now there is a silver lining in either outcome. If Trump wins, you’re happy even though you lost a few bucks. If he loses, you can use your profit to buy fine cigars while you drown your sorrows in Louis XIII cognac.
This is perfectly legal. You can go to Vegas or a betting site called predictit.org. If you are a Trump supporter, it will cost you 60 cents to win a dollar. But if you are a Biden supporter, you are in luck. You can buy shares for Trump to win for only 40 cents. You are only permitted to bet up to $850 on a single wager, but there are multiple wagers that you can find if you are a high roller. You can bet that Trump will win. You can bet that the Republican nominee will win. You can bet that the Democratic winner of Texas primary (Biden) will lose. This means a Biden supporter could wager $2,550 on Trump to win resulting in a $6,375 payout. After fees, this is a nifty profit of around $3,650.
If our polarized electorate adopted political arbitrage, we would be a much happier country. If President Trump wins, the upper middle class women could get sloshed with cases of Pinot Grigio rather than fecklessly marching down the street with their pink hats. If Biden wins, Trump supporters could make a down payment on another greenhouse-gas emitting, Piping Plover habitat-destroying ATV.
Family relations would improve. If you are a Biden supporter and Trump wins, you can help your loser Trump-supporting uninsured brother-in-law with his medical bills as long as he stops gloating. If you are Trump supporter and Biden wins, you can buy your liberal college professor brother-in-law some stylish bow ties as long as he stops boring you with the evils of climate change.
So the solution is not to go out and vote. It is to go out and bet.
Joseph Bentivegna MD is an ophthalmologist in Rocky Hill.
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