I love reading the letters to the editor of the uber-liberal Des Moines Register.  There are usually plenty of logical fallacies and non-sensical assertions, plus the occasional screed, written in the native tongue of the free-range Iowa moonbat.

However, this letter by Bill Leonard leaves me wondering if he’s a liberal or a conservative.  I really don’t know, since nanny-staters reside on both sides of the political spectrum.  Bill isn’t my type of conservative, if he’s leaning right, but if he leans left, his dependence on the government for control is right on target:

Does it make sense to take $60 million from the billfolds of Iowans to gain $13 million in taxes?

Well, of course, say advocates of online poker, the latest proposed gimmick for separating you from your paycheck. Iowans should be able to go broke from the comfort of their living rooms via computer without having to waste money driving all the way to a casino.

First off,  no one is “taking” $60 million from anyone’s billfolds.  The free people of Iowa, and the surrounding states, choose to enter these gambling establishments, knowing the likelihood of losing every penny they wager is higher than winning the jackpot.  So in the first five words, Bill shows flaws in his premise, but let’s continue:

And online poker wouldn’t hurt tax revenues derived from the casinos, the advocates assure us, because this $60 million would be over and above the millions the casinos already remove from Iowa’s consumer economy.

The only agency “removing” millions from Iowa’s consumer economy is the local, state and federal government.  As I already mentioned, the gamblers understand the chances of winning are lower than the chances of losing, and willfully wager their money.  The money they lose is now the property of the casino.

I wonder what Bill thinks they do with that money?  Sit around and count it?  Hold it in a big safe and swim in it like Scrooge McDuck?

No, they spend it.  They pay their employees, a majority of them Iowans, who then take that paycheck and spend it at local grocery stores and gas stations.  The casinos also have to maintain their facilities, to the benefit of nearby hardware stores.

The target of Bill’s contempt isn’t removing money from Iowa’s consumer economy.  They are part of it.

Never mind that players get nothing in return for the $60 million — no goods, no services, nothing beyond the thrill of watching their bank accounts shrink.

Let’s say Bill is right and people enter these flashy, noisy buildings and fork over millions, only to get nothing in return.  Why is that any of Bill’s concern?  They are not being forced.  There is no coercion.  I look at that scenario and think, “So what?  If these people want to give their money to a casino and get nothing for it, that’s their business.”

But that’s not the way of it, as Bill himself notes.  They get a thrill.  They get an experience.  The thrill is like a drug.  It’s momentary and fleeting, but they knew it would end.  The difference is, with gambling, there’s at least a chance of winning big.

Bill doesn’t think Iowans should have that opportunity.  Bill thinks the government should step in and stop Iowans from entering into these games of chance, because he thinks Iowans can’t make responsible decisions and need the government to decide for them, like a benevolent mother or father.

The questions is, where does it stop?  If Bill decides I’m too irresponsible to gamble and gets enough fellow nannies to support him, what is stopping another noisy busy-body from banning something else?

Nothing.

Where does it stop?  Should I be allowed to eat Cheetos and drink Mountain Dew?  No, you’ll get fat and weigh down an already overloaded health care system.  BANNINATED!

Should I be allowed to read “Catcher in the Rye,” or even more controversial books like Ann Coulter’s, “Godless?”  No, Holden Caufield will corrupt our youth and Coulter says things we consider hateful and wrong, so you’ll be misinformed.  BANNINATED!

The fact is, in a free society, some people are going to engage in behavior or activities that you don’t approve of them doing.  As long as it doesn’t hurt anyone not involved, it’s really none of your business.

Oh, but these gamblers go in and lose everything and then have to go on government assistance, so that makes it everyone’s business.

If your state set up a system to provide assistance to those who need it, why are you complaining when people use it, regardless of the circumstances?  It’s fine with you if the government takes my money and gives it to people in need, as long as you approve of how those people came to be in need?

That’s not rational.  The state is taking $13 million from casinos.  Put it to use helping those without enough sense to walk away from the blackjack table with their rent money.

Which brings me to my final point.

Bill shows contempt for the casino “taking” $60 million, but calls looting the casino for $13 million a “gain.”  The only entity engaged in “taking” is the county the casino is in, the state of Iowa, and the federal government, none of which invested any money in the construction of the casino or the purchasing of the tables, chairs, slot machines or cards.  They just nod they collective heads and hold out their hands like a smug bellhop who knows they did nothing but deserve a tip anyway.

You may not like gambling, online or in casinos, but that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve the opportunity to provide customers with the experience they offer.  It’s a dangerous, slippery slope when you set up the state as “omnipotent moral busybodies.

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