Mittwoch, Mai 06, 2009

Further Data Points For The Trend...II

Looks like this is going to be an ongoing series...

First of all: there is a reason for the state to control gambling. While it cannot eradicate it, given human nature and the stubborn belief, especially those with a weak education in statistics and basic math, that there is somehow a realistic chance to win a huge jackpot, allowing wide-spread gambling is destructive, since it engenders a belief that it's easier to try to gamble your way to riches rather than working for them. This is the reason that numbers games were the bread and butter of the Mafia through the ages, appealing to the poor working class that hoped for a win.

Gambling, for the house, is always a rigged game: otherwise, the house loses money and the games will cease. Gambling is always - always! - organized to provide a constant high-value profit stream to the house, with minimal payouts and rigid controls about how winners get their money. It appeals to those desperate to become rich without the talent to do so; to those desperate to finally have some capital, but don't have the jobs or lifestyles needed to save money; it appeals to anyone wanting easy money, the lifestyle of indulgence and leisure, but who lack the right parents or the right skills and energy.

Morally, gambling is extremely problematic: while considered by some to be morally acceptable when the profits are used for good purposes, I'd argue that it this is, at best, morally ambiguous, as the basic idea - a small wager returning large sums - is insidious: gambling addiction is a real danger to gamblers, a psychological dependence, and it is invariably the exploitation of the many for the benefit of a few that is set up in such a way that any benefits, viewed as a sum, are invariably and deliberately biased.

So, what does Barney Frank want to do?

Surprise, surprise: he wants to legalize online gambling. See this in the FT. He wants to do so in order to "put an end to an inappropriate interference with their personal freedom," to quote him directly.

As the Bush Administration drew to an end, it told financial companies not to process payments to online gambling sites in order to reduce their attractiveness. PartyGaming, one of the lead UK companies involved in online gambling, admitted to bank fraud and other violations of US law and paid a $105mn fine in lieu of prosecution.

This is what Barney Frank, Mr. Subprime, now wants to legalize. This is one of the hallmarks of corruption: the legalization of illegal activities, of morally ambiguous and psychologically damaging behavior, which leads to fast money for a few and societal damage that takes years to deal with.

Moving on to the New York Times, we see how the Obama Administration wants to handle opponents and people it doesn't like: with threats and destruction of their livelihood. In this case, recognizing that they probably won't be able to make a decent court case, they want state Bar Associations to disbar their opponents, in this case the lawyers who drew up the legal opinions for the Bush Administration. The operative word here is opinion: these are not the folks who made the law, but who provided their opinions on the law as legal experts. This has a clear chilling effect: disagree with us, even privately, and we will ensure that you never work as a lawyer again.

This, from Amity Shlaes on Bloomberg, underscores how the campaign hasn't ended, especially the dirty tricks of the campaign.

And this goes to show that intimidation works: comedians are finding that making jokes about President Obama is, largely, taboo.

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