Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The Story the MSM Won't Tell About Casinos

SWNID hates gambling. We find it immoral, unethical, stupid, boring, insulting to our person and to every person.

We are amazed at the rapid proliferation of legalized gambling in our republic. This is the current social trend that grieves us most.

So we applaud the intrepid first-person narrative of rustypants, who details the moral degredation of a southwest Indiana gambling emporium. In his eloquent prose, the boat sounds more like Dachau or the Gulag.

Hats off again, rustypants!

22 comments:

Mr. Bojangles said...

Tarbell and others believe that casinos are necessary, or at least a necessary evil, for the city to compete with other nearby cities. Unlike you (whom we envy), SWNiD, with the emphasis on the 'NiD', we in the Bojangles clan have vascillated on this subject since the beginning. Of course we agree with all the things you said about gambling. But since our citizens have sent a clear message that they intend to gamble, the question is no longer "to gamble or not to gamble here in Cincinnati." It seems to us it's now "Does the city benefit any longer from its moral protest of gambling, now that every surrounding city is developing in ways we dream of?"

We think about gas stations that sell cigarettes (ie 100% of them), and how to us smoking is even worse than gambling. Cigarettes are a fundamental part of the gas station business model. No gas station entrepreneur has the luxury to not sell them, on moral principles, and expect to stay in business for very long. And I'm confident no movie rental store could flourish, or stay solvent for that matter, if it refused to stock movies with nudity.

Just to be clear, we don't want to see casinos in Cincy, but it seems that our good citizens have already moved this issue past the point of no return, and now it's a matter of the city's fiscal health.

Anonymous said...

Everything that SWNID and rustypants have said is absolutely true.

However, it shouldn't be surprising. The devil is always at work. Different people have different weaknesses. For a minority of people, gambling is a major weakness. The devil exploits these weaknesses.

I went to a casion once on a business trip with coworker. He was convinced that he could "make money" at the craps table. As I asked him about each bet, and the odds of each bet, the obvious became plain. Every bet (whether bad or badder) was below 50%. The house was winning on every single bet. You can't out-strategize basic arithmetic. People talk to themselves. They deceive themselves. And the devil helps.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Bojangles:

Never sell your principles for money. That's not principled pragmatism. That's unprincipled prostitution. Even depersonalized ("it's the city, it's not me"), let's choose to not pimp Cincinnati.

Our citizens have not sent a clear message that they intend to gamble. A very small percentage of society gambles on a regular basis. If a majority gambled regularly, all money would be in the hands of a minority (bookies), and we would all starve because no work would actually get done. The citizens of this state have voted down gambling at least once and maybe more times.

"Every surrounding city is developing in ways we dream of" is simply false.

I also take issue with the fiscal health argument. More money in the hands of government is rarely (if ever) a good thing. Governments waste the majority of money they take in. We need to be looking for ways to starve Cincinnati of money, not getting more money into the city treasury.

Cincinnati lacks development because of excessive taxes, excessive regulation, and high crime. Also, government is way too involved in private developments. Cincinnati owns too much land, controls too much land, and controls too much development. Government is the problem; not the solution to Cincinnati's problems.

Development is moving outside the city because developers are fleeing Cincinnati government (and to a lesser, but real extent, Hamilton County government). How much less government is there in Clermont County and in Butler County?

Local governments are competing and this is very healthy. Cincinnati is losing because of its government.

Calus The Great said...

Of course, my libertarian and Social Darwinist impulses lead me to think that if there are those who want to gamble, they should be allowed to do so and reap the full consequences of their actions. Then, the problem is that the gambling junkies will demand that the government pay for their rehab or try to sue the casinos, which contradicts the very nature of the argument for allowing them.

Then my Tory impulses tell me that the government ought to promote virtue among its citizens, and not legalize gambling.

It's a clash of conservatisms!

JB in CA said...

It seems to me that the boat is simply the result of free-market forces at work. Wasn't it SWNID himself (sorry, themselves) who said that the genius of the market is that it translates our individual greed into the common good? Why would SWNID want to interfere in such a marvelous enterprise?

JB in CA said...

Re: Calus. You should go with your Tory impulses on this one.

Jon A. Alfred E. Michael J. Wile E. SWNID said...

to jb in ca:

I believe our full position, expressed in the discussion of free trade versus protectionism, is that free markets are better than unfree ones, but there remains a legitimate debate about the boundaries of their operation. We aren't a libertarian or laizzez faire absolutist.

The regulation or prohibition of vices is a classic example of this very thing. Markets tend to harness greed, but not absolutely. Of course, there are six other deadly sins to deal with as well.

Maybe if we required truth in advertising for casinos (and state lotteries!), we could at least claim to have done something:

Play "Big Loser," the Ohio Lottery's newest scratch-off game. Or our other popular games: "Numbskull," "Dead End," "Bankrupt," "Pawn Shop," and "Can't Do Long Division." Odds are, you'll lose.

By the way, we totall agree with the response to mr. bojangles regarding the economic development and "other people are getting the money" positions. We can't name a single city where the quality of life has been improved with the proliferation of gambling.

bryan dove said...

I believe I have the honor of proposing a correction to the great SWNID himself. For indeed "laizzez faire" should be "laissez-faire" (insert snide remark about the value of knowing Frech). And to the great Calus, follow your Libertarian heart, or elsewise prepare yourself to outlaw alcohol, tobacco, nudity in film and the entire list of the "usually a vice but not neccisarily evil" category. Cheers!

Mr. Bojangles said...

since you mentioned the French:

http://stupid.com/games/french/

Jon A. Alfred E. Michael J. Wile E. SWNID said...

To bryan dove, I note that you are indeed correct about the spelling of the French phrase. I confess that I cannot master spelling in two languages that do not spell phonetically.

And apparently, neither can you: neccisarily?

bryan dove said...

touché, mon ami

Anonymous said...

There is no such thing as laizzez-faire purism.

Self-proclaimed purists are never actual purists. They always make exceptions. They have to; otherwise they paint themselves into a corner.

Laizzez-faire is simply the economic component of libertarianism. Both laizzez-faire economists and libertarians like to describe themselves in absolutist or purist terms.

This shows their lack of intellectual depth.

Efficient and fair markets depend on multiple factors that are not entirely present in society.

Take consent for example. Libertarians love the phrase "mutually consenting adults." The phrase assumes already that children are off-limits to libertarian philosophy. They don't like to talk about this because it's a major flaw in pure libertarianism (government is virtually unneeded). Governments must protect children from exploitation (i.e., pedophiles, child labor, etc.). If governments won't, who will?

Let's get back on topic: consent. Can the mentally retarded consent? Can the mentally compromised (the elderly) consent? Why is it that the elderly are defrauded more than any other demographic (by telemarketers, by investment scams, by door-to-door Gypsy schemes)? They are diminished people. They are vulnerable. If the government doesn't protect the vulnerable, who will? Sure the church should reach out to individuals. It is the government though that is a "minister of justice" according to the apostle Paul. The church doesn't serve justice. It serves need.

Another example: efficient markets depend very heavily on what economists call "perfect information." Each participant must have all of the facts for an economic transaction to be both efficient and fair.

If I sell a termite infested house to an unsuspecting / unknowing buyer, the economic transaction that occured is neither efficient (in the distribution of capital), nor fair.

So government steps in and legislates a "seller disclosure" statement that must be provided to a buyer prior to the buyer making an offer (the real estate agent requires the buyer to sign the seller disclosure statement). Information is never perfect (i.e., insider trading on Wallstreet, do you know which detergent on the shelf works best?)

There are numerous other examples. The point is not that laizzez-faire economics or libertarianism is bankrupt or worthless ideology. The point is that there are clear limitations. Common sense helps us identify what those limitations are.

Applied to Argosy and PowerBall, how did rustypants describe the casino scene? The casino was full of diminished people (the old, the depressed, the addicted, the emotionally broken).

Casinos (and the lottery) are pure exploitation of some of the most vulnerable among us. One of the key purposes of government is to protect the vulnerable from exploitation. For government to legalize gambling, and then to exclusively "profit" from it through lotteries or state regulated private monopolies (riverboats), well, that's just pure evil. Gambling (in its current form in the US) represents the opposite of good government.

JB in CA said...

Well put, Mr. (Ms.?) Anonymous. In particular, I agree with your point that "one of the key purposes of government is to protect the vulnerable from exploitation." I would, however, add to your list of vulnerable individuals those whose jobs are in danger of being outsourced by companies that are more interested in their own bottom line than they are in the welfare of their employees or of the society within which they operate.

JB in CA said...

To jon a. alfred, etc., etc.: My impression of the free trade vs. protectionism discussion is that your "full position" makes no allowance for placing restrictions on another country's (i.e., India's) acccess to our market. Is that not an absolutist position?

Jon A. Alfred E. Michael J. Wile E. SWNID said...

I would make some limited allowance for protectionism in trade under certain circumstances. It's legitimate to protect oneself from dumping (exporting goods below the price of production in order to completely eliminate another country's production of that product), for example. However, there can be little doubt that it works to the long-term benefit of all countries for trade barriers to be reduced or eliminated. This, it seems to me, is as settled an issue of economics as any issue can be.

I'll admit to some sentimental, bleeding-heart compassionate conservatism on the issue of free trade with India. India is poised to take hundreds of millions of people from poverty to dignity in a generation. We could scuttle that with protectionism. I say that's not a moral choice. And it's not even in our own self-interest.

fiona said...

JB in CA:

The bottomline is what companies are supposed to care about. If they don't, they go out of business and all employees lose their jobs.

If companies "don't care about society," society won't purchase their products.

Companies have always outsourced. They have always relied on vendors. You don't make everything that you own. You buy stuff that other people make because they can make it cheaper and better than you can.

That's how economies work. The United States didn't get rich by regulating the personnel practices of companies. It got rich by allowing them the freedom to operate.

If you want regulated poverty, move to France where unemployment is 11% on paper, and more like 25% because of the number of people who have given up on finding a job and have settled for welfare.

If you want freedom and wealth and opportunity, stay here. Governments that regulate the profit motive or that attempt to shield indidividuals from the competition of the labor market do nothing more than saddle their economy with balls and shackles.

JB in CA said...

Fiona:

Here's a paragraph by paragraph response to your comments:

1. The issue isn't whether companies should care about the bottom line, but whether they should care about it at the expense of their employees and the society within which they do their business.

2. There are numerous examples of companies that haven't cared about society but have nevertheless continued to sell their products to society. Think of the coal companies that strip-mined for so many years and left the countryside a barren wasteland, triggering massive erosion. They still operate--even after we forced them, with legal "balls and shackles," to reforest the landscape.

3. The issue (this time) isn't outsourcing per se, but outsourcing at the expense of one's employees and society. Companies have not always outsourced in that way. And even if they had, that would be no justification for the practice. The problem with outsourcing (when it involves laying off one's own employees) is that it treats people only as means to the bottom line and not as ends in themselves (i.e., not as individuals with intrinsic value and dignity).

4. True enough, the U.S. didn't get rich by regulating the personnel practices of companies. Indeed, when we as a society refused to interfere in personnel matters during the slave era, many companies--and, hence, the U.S. in general--got extraordinarily rich. But I'm willing to bet that you wouldn't advocate a hands-off personnel policy in the context of slavery. And I imagine that the reason you wouldn't is because you think some practices are wrong regardless of their economic benefits. Why doesn't firing someone just to turn a buck count as one of those practices?

5. Wow! It’s a good thing I don’t want regulated poverty. My French isn’t so great. Nes pas?

6. Where do I go if I want justice and mercy?

fiona said...

JB in CA:

Thanks for the point by point response. However, you owe me (and yourself) more than semantic gobbledy gook and shallow abstracts.

1. Companies have a fiduciary responsibility to their shareholders. They have a customer relationship with their employees (treat them well and the employees will be productive and happy, etc.).

All benefits have costs. There is an expense to every benefit. Nothing is free, not even salvation (it cost Christ). Using your logic, no company would ever have a profit because managment should be distributing all profits to employees. Okay, where will the investment capital come from? No profit equals no investment capital. No investment capital equals no jobs. No jobs equals "no care."

Companies are always trying to balance the needs of their shareholders, their employees, and their customers. The balance is difficult. Give too much cost savings to the customer and the shareholders and employees will suffer. Give to much compensation to the employees and the prices will go up (affecting customers) and the share price will go down. There is no free lunch.

2. You equate "strip-mining" with "haven't cared about society." What you really mean is that strip mining offends you personally; you want veto power over the legal and ethical practices of companies that are serving you. You turn the lights on; you take that for granted. It never occured to you that you are the one burning the coal that generates the electricity. The coal companies are serving you. Disconnect your A/C; then we can talk about how coal companies "don't care about society."

"A barren wasteland?" Last time I checked, trees grow back, whether we "reforest" or not. And if you don't own "the landscape" and the coal company does, who are you to tell them what to do with their land? That's elitism, not "caring about society."

3. Outsourcing always occurs at the expense of employees (read point 1 again). That's the definition of outsourcing. What do you do for a living? Whatever it is, your job exists because a company outsourced the need to you. That means you have taken somebody else's job. Does that make you (or the company) evil? No.

Companies have always outsourced at the expense of their employees. If there were a first law of economics (like there is a first law of thermodynamics), it would be that every benefit has a cost. Benefits don't grow on trees.

Explain to me how crippling a business (by never laying off anybody) treats people as ends in themselves. How is it that losing your competitive advantage, and becoming inefficient will help anybody? Businesses that are not competitive close down. Then everybody loses their jobs. Better that some lose their jobs than everybody losing their jobs.

You want the pie divided evenly. You must presuppose the pie exists. And there is your error in logic. The pie only exists if the company can create it (by constantly looking for ways to add value). The pie will never be divided evenly or "fairly" (whatever fairly means).

Do workers treat companies as means to ends? Do workers work for the paycheck, or do they work to serve their fellow man? People work to earn. Companies (investors) work to earn. There is no diffrence. Workers have just as much power as companies. Companies can layoff employees to improve their bottomline. Employees can layoff companies to improve their bottomline (take a new job).

4. The slave era does not represent a "personnel practice." You gotta come up with something better than that.

"Why doesn't firing someone just to turn a buck count as one of those practices?" What a loaded question. Companies work on the same financial incentives as employees. If you don't work, you don't earn. If you don't create value, you don't earn. If you don't earn, you don't get paid. If you don't get paid, you can't pay your mortage. Why is that so hard to understand?

Why is the employee's mortgage more sacred than the investor's? How rich do you have to be to be evil? Do you own any mutual funds or stocks in an IRA or mutual fund? Do you have any insurance or a pension fund? The vast majority of companies are owned via these avenues. Are you evil because you are a shareholder?

Pull your money out and encourage everybody else to do the same. Then, you can claim that you are compassionate for the employees of those companies, and they will scoff.

fiona said...

Point 6) I missed. You go to the government for justice. You go to the church and to Christian individuals for mercy.

You imply here more than you state. That's clever, but it doesn't convince.

There is nothing unjust or unmerciful about being laid off. To state that you must assume the company has something that it never will have: unending resources.

If you want unending resources, check in to God. That's the only source of the infinite.

Liberals like yourself like to believe there are haves and have nots, that society is defined by those who hoard and those in need. In America, nothing could be further from the truth.

American society is defined by those who achieve and those who do not. Those who work hard, work smart, save, and invest have opportunities galore.

Those who drop out of school, sit on their hands, those who never better their job skills throughout life, those who spend every dollar they have, they have no opportunities. Or rather, they can't see them. They sit, they complain, they pout. They live in the greatest country to ever be, a country with more opportunity than any other country ever.

And they get jealous of what others have achieved. They don't attribute wealth to achievement. They attribute it to greed, hoarding, theft, and fraud.

The great thing about capitalism is that you sink or swim according to your ability to serve your fellow man (not take from him). It's what you give him that allows you to earn a living and possibly get rich. In our society, the rich are better at serving man than others.

Jon A. Alfred E. Michael J. Wile E. SWNID said...

jb in ca will be more than a little surprised to be called a liberal.

May I add that India, Pakistan and Bangladesh have, if the BBC World Service is to be believed and if I heard them correctly last night while awake at 3:30 a.m., 1/2 of the world's underweight children? Every job "outsourced" to India is an engine of economic improvement for a billion people who need it, and who will buy American goods when they have the money to do so.

May I also add that history shows that slavery was a bad economic idea? The parts of the United States without slavery were richer than those with it, and they have remained so since.

But the subject was gambling, wasn't it?

fiona said...

We are helping to lift up the underdeveloped countries of the world.

If you want to slow the world's ascent out of poverty, you must first cripple the American economy.

fiona said...

SWNID:

JB in CA is advocating socialist policies. He is an economic liberal. Greenpeace would love to have him.