Posts tagged ‘O.J. Simpson’

March Madness Brings Productivity Sadness

Fans in Stadium Celebrating

You feel that scratchy throat coming on? Taking a long lunch to discuss business? Has there been a death in the family? Don’t feel bad about calling in sick or being unproductive during March Madness, the multi-week annual NCAA college basketball tournament, because you are not alone. According to Challenger, Gray and Christmas, 3.0 million people plan to watch up to three hours of basketball games during work hours, costing companies and the economy at least $134 million in lost wages during the first two days of the tournament. What’s more, March Madness tends to attract other unproductive habits in the form of illegal gambling to the tune of $2.5 billion each year (source: FBI).

While I don’t have the time to spend hours filling out a 64-team bracket, I can’t do all the finger-pointing – I too participate in my fair share of unproductive lollygagging. I’ve been known to throw away hours of my time scrolling through my Twitter news feed ( or paging through my Flipboard timelines. Heck, if you really want to talk about unproductive, the President of the United States even filled out a bracket (click here) – so far, so good, but his Wisconsin pick didn’t help his cause.

If you need more proof of our country’s collective lack of productivity, then consider the following:

  • Fantasy Fun: In 2008, there were 35 million people (mostly men) participating in fantasy football at a cost of $6.5 billion over a 17-week NFL season (source: Challenger, Gray and Christmas).
  • The Juice: The 1995 O.J. Simpson verdict cost the country $480 million in lost output and the New York Stock Exchange trading volume plummeted by 41% during the half hour surrounding the reading of the verdict (source: Alan Dershowitz’s America on Trial).
  • Shop until You Drop: “Cyber Monday” is one of the largest online shopping days of the year, which occurs shortly after Thanksgiving’s “Black Friday”. Workers wasted $488 million of their time in 2007, and that number has undoubtedly increased significantly since then (source: Challenger, Gray and Christmas).
  • Summer Sport: In 2012, Captivate Network found out that workers watching the Summer Olympics at the office resulted in a productivity loss of $650 million.
  • Hangover Hammer: Super Bowl Sunday is one of the largest alcohol consumption evenings of the year. The U.S. Center for Disease Control estimates that hangovers cost our nation about $160.5 billion annually.
  • Social Media Profit Black Hole: Are you addicted to Facebook (FB), Twitter, LinkedIn (LNKD) or other social media network of choice? A report by LearnStuff shows that Americans spend as much time collectively on social media in one day as they do watching online movies in a year. The cost? A whopping 4.4% of GDP or $650 billion.

Investor Madness

One of the biggest black hole productivity drains for investors is the endless deluge of foreboding news items – each story potentially becoming the next domino to collapse the global economy. The most productive use of time is an offensive strategy focused on identifying the best investment opportunities that meet lasting financial objectives. Reading prospectuses, annual reports, and quarterly financial results may not be as sexy as scanning the latest Twitter-worthy headline, but detailed research and questioning goes a long way towards producing superior long-term returns.

On the other hand, news-driven fears that cause investment paralysis can cause irreparable damage. A counter greed-driven performance chasing strategy will lead to tears as well. It’s OK to read the newspaper in order to be informed about long term trends and economic shifts, but as Mark Twain says, “If you don’t read the newspaper, you are uninformed.  If you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed.”

While March Madness may not be the most productive time of the year, when your sore throat clears or you get back from that late lunch, it behooves you to become more productive with your investment strategies. Picking the wrong investment players on your portfolio team may turn March Madness into investor sadness.

Wade W. Slome, CFA, CFP®

Plan. Invest. Prosper.

DISCLOSURE: Sidoxia Capital Management (SCM) and some of its clients hold positions in certain exchange traded funds (ETFs), but at the time of publishing SCM had no direct position in FB, LNKD, Twitter, or any other security referenced in this article. No information accessed through the Investing Caffeine (IC) website constitutes investment, financial, legal, tax or other advice nor is to be relied on in making an investment or other decision. Please read disclosure language on IC Contact page.

March 24, 2013 at 10:39 pm Leave a comment

Celebrity Tax Evaders Run But Can’t Hide

Hide and Seek

As Mark Twain said, “The only certainties in life are death and taxes.” That is, of course, unless you decide to not pay your taxes. Some well known celebrities fall into this camp.

The financial crisis has hit the economy hard and the impact has been felt directly by our nation’s cash register (i.e., the Internal Revenue Service – IRS). Based on 2006 IRS data, the U.S. had about an 84% Voluntary Compliance Rate (VCR) by tax payers in 2001; a goal of 85% VCR in 2009; and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus has thrown out a 90% voluntary compliance goal by 2017. Those collection goals may be a little ambitious given the recession and the escalating unemployment trends over 2008 – 2009.

So who makes up the deadbeats who have deliberately or unintentionally not paid their taxes? Obviously 10-15% of the non-paying tax-payer base is a large number, but the real fun comes by tracking the smaller celebrity component of the tax evaders. Let’s take a look at some of the more prominent dodgers (data provided by The Daily Beast):

  • O.J. Simpson:  In 2007 the state of California placed listed Mr. Simpson as one of their worst tax offenders, owing close to $1.5 million. Currently he is serving a 33-year sentence in a Nevada prison for an armed robbery and kidnapping conviction.
  • Willie Nelson: The long-haired hippy and king of country music, Willie Nelson, was hunted down by the IRS for $16.7 million in 1990. Fortunately for him, his star-power allowed him to record albums and pay back his debt by 1993.
  • Wesley Snipes:  The Blade movie star claimed the reason he owed more than $17 million in taxes, penalties, and interest is because he was a “non-resident alien.” The judge didn’t buy the explanation, and now he is appealing a three-year prison sentence.
  • Pete Rose: “Charlie Hustle,” the all-star baseball player of the Cincinnati Reds served five months in prison for not paying taxes on his autograph, memorabilia, and horse-racing income. Mr. Rose cleared the slate by performing 1,000 hours of community service and paying off $366,000 in debt.
  • Nicolas Cage: Not sure if he is shooting a movie in New Orleans, but Mr. Cage is attempting to iron out a $6.2 million tax liability through a Louisiana court for his failure to keep up with 2007 taxes.
  • Judy Garland: Men are not the only non-compliers, even if they account for the majority. Judy Garland, from Wizard of Oz fame, had her own tax problems. Besides tax evasion charges in the early 1950s, she accumulated about $4 million in IRS debt after her 1964 variety show (The Judy Garland Show) was cancelled.
  • Al Capone: One of most well known cases in tax evasion history is tied to famous mobster Al Capone. After a long, controversial trial, Mr. Capone was convicted and handed an 11-year sentence, predominantly at Alcatraz. He got out early on parole in 1939 and kept a relatively low profile.

There are countless others that have gotten into tax problems with the IRS. Many of them make plenty of money to pay their taxes, however spending habits, laziness, or aggressive tax accountants may explain the reasons behind the tax evasion problems.

See a more complete media gallery of tax evaders here, provided by The Daily Beast.

Regardless of the celebrities’ tax-paying compliance rates, the IRS will have its collection hands full, given the sad state of the current economic environment and the crafty tax-dodging techniques pursued by some citizens. Unlike others, I’ll make sure to write myself a note, reminding me to write a check to my friends at the IRS on April 15th – especially if it involves millions.

Wade W. Slome, CFA, CFP®

Plan. Invest. Prosper.

October 1, 2009 at 2:00 am 1 comment

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