Gambling is a challenging issue for politicians because lurking behind the debaters is a man with a suitcase full of cash. He can hire the best spin doctors from Madison Avenue and make massive cash contributions to his favorite pols. So Senator Harry Reid, a Mormon, and Barney Frank, whatever he is, want to reverse Congressional precedent and "re-legalize" internet gambling. Sadly, their favorite argument, posited by Barney "freedom for consenting adults (and page boys)" Frank is a twisted half truth that no honest liberal and no Republican should be caught dead defending.
First, "consenting adults" assumes that the internet gambler will be well, consenting. Is the sick addict consenting? No more than a young intern is consenting when Frank has him in his sights, is a pathological gambler a consenting adult. When the wife discovers "it is all gone" and her sick husband has left she and her children homeless, is she consenting? The Treasurer of Christian County Missouri embezzled over $600,000 from his taxpayers to support his habit. Were they consenting? When the taxpayers of Missouri paid for the prosecution and subsequent incarceration, were they consenting? Missouri, like almost every other State, still barred gambling when Gary Melton was the "big roller". Illinois placed a casino in eye shot of the famous Arch. Gary Melton left over an estimated $700,000 in Illinois. Missourians got the bills.
The most devious argument is the Frank assertion that his interest is letting "adults make a decision" about where they spend their money. Really? So is Frank moving to restrain federal agents who are breaking up home poker matches? Is that the question? Of course it is not. This is the big lie. If you want to gamble with your friends, gamble in Vegas, buy a lottery ticket, gamble at a bingo hall or go to a real live casino, you can find at least one of those outlets within a few miles of every consenting adult in the Country. Frank, an evil genius, is using a reasonable appeal in a false application.
The question for policy makers is not about further restraining gambling, but whether gambling on a large scale, an infinite scale in the case of the internet, something wise to promote or even allow? St. Louisans were shocked, when the brother of a prominent contractor was murdered in a botched robbery attempt. Tyrone Thompson, a former cop and dedicated mentor of troubled youth, was in his car picking up a friend when approached by two young men with guns. It turns out, the thugs needed money. They lost badly in a friendly home dice game and set out on foot to steal their money back. The "house" won, and the victim's family was left holding the bag. But Frank and Reid twist the question from whether more gambling is a desirable public policy goal to a false question about freedom to gamble. We have that freedom. To see how silly this is, the precise argument could be applied allowing consenting adults to do absolutely anything else. Why will he not allow consenting adults to take steroids or methamphetamines, gamble their money on Wall Street or with Madoff? So Mr. Frank, if it is all about leaving consenting adults alone, how about allowing consenting adults to listen to Rush Limbaugh, you bloviating fraud?
Finally, one can see how a libertarian reaches the conclusion that regulating gambling is somehow un-American. even though every single state in the union, save Nevada, banned it in their Constitutions back in the day. Even Republicans can get lost in arguments like "it is just a business, like any other business". But consider a "progressive". The late Senator Paul Simon (D-Illinois) fought gambling endlessly, speaking from the floor of the US Senate about how it corrupts public officials and hurts people. Barney Frank on the other hand, a progressive, who feigns anger with predatory businesses that hurt little people should not enjoy this privilege. He loves progressive taxation and soaking "the rich". Yet what transfer mechanism in the history of man takes more wealth from more of the poor and dimwitted and transfers it to the hands of a wealthy few? When gambling is at issue, the phony progressives bow to the man with the suitcase full of cash.
So we know why Harry Reid wants the bill. Internet gambling will result in huge profits in Vegas (favorite home of the men with cash-filled suitcases), and the Carribean. Casinos and governments, where the casinos are domiciled will make out handsomely. While the phony leftists show that principle matters far less than power and do the dirty work of the men with cash-filled suitcases, the rest of us get stuck with the bills.
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