DARPA—Dumb Ass Research Projects Agency—is running out of ideas and becoming truly dangerous. DARPA is famous for funding the development of the Internet. The story is overblown and not quite accurate. Their latest idea is to create a futures market for political events. The idea is the most appalling one yet to come out under the Bush Administration watch. To fully understand what they are proposing, many readers will need background.

Futures are basically contracts that pay a given amount for the outcome of some event. Against a certain spread, you make your investment times the spread. It’s not quite gambling because the events are tangible, equity properties and quite helpful like high wheat yield or some other agricultural statistic. The world usually improves from these investments.

Sports betting is the next step up (or down) from futures. Some folks like to call it “speculating” instead of gambling. The reasoning is that the event will occur regardless of your bet. We call that reason “rationalizing” but that’s another article. As a random example of San Antonio versus New Jersey, -5 pays your investment times 5. A spread of +5 pays your investment plus one-fifth. Nothing tangible is involved. No properties are exchanged. The world neither improves nor degrades from a sports bet.

Now come the jackasses at DARPA. They came up with the Terror Bookie Network so you could display your political acumen and become a millionaire off tragedy and death. The Pentagon project would allow people to predict wonderful things like “WMD explodes in Tel Aviv” or “Embassy explodes in Ukraine” or, the most offensive one used in the government site, “Jordanian king gets assassinated.”

DARPA claims that they can get accurate information from the efficiency of market. Of course, the all-holy free market will solve everything, right? If you want to get funding for your insane ideas, just visit a random member of the US House and tell them that it uses “market principles.”

Gambling has no predictive value whatsoever. If 50 million people bet on the NBA Finals, you still have no new insight on who will win the NBA Finals. All you know are two possible messages, “I like San Antonio” or “I like New Jersey.” Knowing that information does not allow you to know any more.

Who would trust the US government as a bookie anyway?

If Uncle Sham truly wants the predictive power and efficiency of the market, THEY SHOULD PAY ATTENTION TO THE F’N MARKET! Before 9/11, options on United Airlines and American Airlines went through the roof. Somebody knew something and the government was too stupid to see it.

Enough said. Fire everybody. Start with Poindexter.

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