Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Tax Disgrace That Every Politician Loves

The State of Ohio--beset with mediocre education, declining industry, and an emigrating population--has found a solution to its problems.

It's "keno," an electronic numbers game that allows gamblers to place long-odds bets every four minutes. Odds of winning the top prize of $100,000 are just under 9 million to one against.

In other words, "keno" is a highly accessible, highly addictive way to draw the compulsive gambler into a vortex of sucker bets, all in the name of "plugging a hole" in Ohio's bloated, misdirected state budget and calling it a benefit to "our children's schools." With the prospect of frequent play and the long odds, this game is quite likely the most exploitative to date.

Lotteries are maybe the worst way ever devised to raise government revenue. Can a tax at the same time be regressive (all studies show that poorer people tend to play the lottery disproportionately more than the better off), expensive (lotteries use far more of their revenue for their own administration than other taxes), and damaging to public morals (lotteries not only feed compulsive gambling and prey on ignorance, they also discourage labor and thrift for the offer of getting lucky)? The miserable answer is yes. Beelzebub himself must have devised this plan personally.

We could blame Ted Strickland for this mess, as he's been boosting it. But we blame just about every politician in just about every party. Rs are supposed to stand for honest money, honest business and hard work. Ds are supposed to stand for the good of the little guy against the big guy. But given the opportunity to snatch some public money with a popular, voluntary tax, Rs and Ds suddenly become radical social-Darwinist libertarians who say, "To Tartarus with the ignorant public; let's give 'em what they want and bleed 'em dry!"

SWNID has had enough of this gambling mess. We know too many people whose lives have been seriously damaged by gambling. But even those who don't go to the poor house or the divorce court because of state-sanctioned gambling theft are still being lied to by their so-called public servants who never tell them that they're teasing them with prizes so that they'll ignore the mathematics of informed self-interest and let the politicians off the hook for inflated spending and spineless tax policies.

We want no more enabling of a situation that went beyond stupid ages ago. We therefore call on all gentle readers to start the revolution. Please, if you have any sense at all, do the following:
  • If you buy lottery tickets, even occasionally, even "for fun," stop. Don't participate in this usurious sham.
  • Begin now to communicate to your state legislators, simply and steadily, that you object to this inefficient and inhuman form of taxation. Challenge them to honest budgeting and revenue-raising.
  • Speak up with gentle reason when the subject comes up. Heap gentle scorn on lottery commercials. Tell you kids to avoid the lottery like they avoid other damaging habits. Help people understand the simple math that says a dollar saved is always worth more than a dollar bet on any lottery.

1 comment:

Pat said...

I missed this post.

All I can say is "Hear Hear."

As a resident of a state (Indiana) that is falling farther and farther down the gambling revenue funnel I agree 110%.