Stossel Hits the Proverbial Nail on the Proverbial Head

As a progressive with socialistic tendencies, I disagree with libertarians on many things.  I have no problem pointing out where I think they are heartless or just flat out insane, as I did here with a previous column by John Stossel.  But as much as I disagree with much of their philosophy, I couldn’t agree more with parts as well, and I feel I should give credit where it is due.  Stossel’s column this week is brilliant.

I like to bet on sports. Having a stake in the game, even if it’s just five bucks, makes it more exciting. I also like playing poker. “Unacceptable!” say politicians in much of America. “Gambling sometimes leads to ‘addiction,’ destitute families!”

Well, it can.

So politicians ban it. It’s why we no longer see a poker game in the back of bars. Half the states even ban poker between friends — though they rarely enforce that.

After banning things, politicians’ second favorite activity is granting special privileges to a few people who do those same things — so big casinos flourish, and most states run their own lotteries. Running lotteries is one of the more horrible things our governments do. The poor buy the most tickets, and states offer them terrible odds. The government entered the lottery business promising to end the “criminal numbers racket.” Now states do what the “criminals” did but offer much worse odds. Adding insult to their scam, politicians also spend our tax money promoting lotteries with disgusting commercials that trash hard work, implying that happiness comes from hedonism.


I joke sometimes that “lottery” is an ancient Greek word that means “tax on people who sucks at math.”  You can not find a game in a casino that gives odds as bad as the lottery.  Seriously.  As bad of a bet as slot machines are, they still pay off at a much better rate than any state run lottery.  Stossel’s column is worth a read this week; it deals with more than just gambling, and is spot on through out.

As heartless as I find many libertarian ideas,  I also understand that they are on our side on many issues, and have no problem putting aside disagreements to work on the issues we both care about.  Perhaps there is a lesson here.  Care less about labels, and more about specific ideas?  *shrug*  Drug policy reform is perhaps the most important issue right now for me; I don’t want anyone else to go through what I went through, and I know that libertarians are going to be a big part of any significant reform.  Whether they are on the left or the right, if they have good ideas, point them out for other to see.



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