Desperation and Morality: where to draw the line?

When people are desperate, some turn to crime. When governments are desperate they just redefine crime- now, online gambling is getting looked at as a tax source. Why not just go all the way- legalize prostitution and marijuana too? It’s ok to fleece billions on Wall Street- and get paid millions for failing- but, sell crack and get sent to the slammer.

So when the New York Times reports that online poker may be ready for prime time- look out- the Treasury is broke and they’re becoming flexible:

With pressure mounting on the federal government to find new revenues, Congress is considering legalizing, and taxing, an activity it banned just four years ago: Internet gambling.

Congress banned Internet gambling in 2006, but is rethinking its stand. Supporters say the shift could yield billions in taxes.

On Wednesday, the House Financial Services Committee approved a bill that would effectively legalize online poker and other nonsports betting, overturning a 2006 federal ban that critics say merely drove Web-based casinos offshore.

The bill would direct the Treasury Department to license and regulate Internet gambling operations, while a companion measure, pending before another committee, would allow the Internal Revenue Service to tax such businesses. Winnings by individuals would also be taxed, as regular gambling winnings are now. The taxes could yield as much as $42 billion for the government over 10 years, supporters said.

The two measures — which are backed by banks and credit unions but have divided casinos and American Indian tribes — are far from becoming law.

via Congress Is Rethinking Its Ban on Internet Gambling – NYTimes.com.

Of course, the whole “gambling” is something to protect the public from thing went away long ago. Lotteries were allowed- “to pay for schools”- and Casino’s “would bring jobs to Ohio” are the way those in power rationalize changing their tune.

Never mind they refuse to protect American workers from being either exploited or tossed aside- pretty soon, the United States will be a giant Gomorrah- because we’ve forgotten that the huge middle class was really what made this the country of opportunity- not our Military Industrial Complex or Wall Street.

I’ve never been much of a gambler in life. It’s only recently that I’ve learned how to play poker. I have zero interest in a cash game- but don’t mind playing in a tournament with a fixed buy in. The strategy of the game, especially when playing with good players- can be a fascinating way to spend an evening. Too bad the government still thinks this is a part of life they believe they need to control. Their efforts to ban it were as successful as Prohibition with alcohol, the “War on Drugs” with addiction and the non-smoking ordinances without enforcement in Ohio.

Go ahead- deal me in. Let’s start working on things that really matter in this country. This is only poker.

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3 Responses

  1. David Lauri July 29, 2010 / 11:36 am
    You keep working on the Gomorrah part — I’ll keep working on the Sodom part.
  2. John Ise August 2, 2010 / 2:59 pm
    A new book called “Broke, USA” that features….Dayton, Ohio!  Perhaps an Esrati book review?
    “Broke, USA: From Pawnshops to Poverty, Inc. — How the Working Poor Became Big Business.” Gary Rivlin. HarperCollins. $26.99. 368 pp.

    To the upper and middle classes, they’re all but invisible, but to the working poor, they’re a fact of life: pawnshops, payday lenders, storefronts offering high-rate mortgages, tax preparers promising instant cash refunds. They sprouted throughout America’s poorest communities over the past two decades, eventually saturating the slums and expanding outward into the suburbs. By late 2008 when they were at the core of a nationwide economic collapse, they were too big to ignore.

    In “Broke, USA: From Pawnshops to Poverty, Inc. — How the Working Poor Became Big Business,” business journalist Gary Rivlin unravels the events that led to the crisis, explaining how the dark corner of the financial services sector he calls “the poverty industry” was allowed to rage out of control with the backing of Wall Street and the inaction of Washington and state governments, despite the warnings of consumer advocates.

    The size of “Poverty, Inc.” is not insignificant. According to Rivlin, consumers spent $11 billion on payday loans and check cashing fees in 2008 — as much as they spent on movie tickets that year. They spent an additional $7 billion on rent-to-own stores, which attract cash-strapped customers with low entry fees, but over time sell home furnishings and electronics at markups far higher than any conventional retailer.

    Rivlin appears to hold particular contempt for the subprime lenders who cater to clientele with tarnished credit.

    “Broke, USA” is painstakingly researched, involving both industry leaders and their opponents. It is vital reading for those seeking to deepen their understanding of the economic crash of the past few years.

  3. Robert Vigh August 3, 2010 / 2:03 am
    I hate those companies that go to poor neighborhoods and hold guns to people’s heads demanding they go to a rent to own store. It is intolerable to use physical force and coercion against poor communities………wait, whats that? There was no guns? There was no force? The largest coercive force acting on poor communities is property tax?

    Well…….How dare those companies that go into poor neighborhoods and offer services as a PROFIT!! Those evil doers offering services to poor people. It must stop. We must limit and control this profitable market. This way market barriers can be enhanced and competitive forces limited never allowing services to be improved to poor communities.

    The only real crime is the one instituted by the government for bailing out investor backed programs with bailout funds.

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