Sunday, September 14, 2008

But he knows not what it means...

Stop Slots President Aaron Meisner, in a Baltimore Sun article, has something to say about slots. Unfortunately, what he says does not make sense:

"It's a regressive, racist tax," he [Meisner] said, noting that most state lottery sales are in heavily African-American jurisdictions such as Baltimore City and Prince George's County.

Slot revenues are a regressive and racist tax? Well, no.

First of all, slot revenues are not taxes. A tax is imposed by a government onto its citizenry by the use of force. If you fail to pay the tax, you will find yourself in jail. Since no one is compelled to play slots in the first place, they are, by definition, not taxes. We would not call greens fees at the local golf course taxes, even if that golf course is owned by the state or county (like Timbers at Troy).

Since slots are not taxes, it does not make sense to apply the “regressive” concept to them. If Mr. Meisner is concerned about regressive taxes, perhaps he should instead rail against the 20% sales tax increase that was passed earlier this year. Sales tax is one of the most regressive taxes out there.

Are slots racist? Meisner suggests that slots may be racist because lottery sales are highest in areas with large African-American populations. If you believe that correlation implies causation, this argument is a good one. If you don’t, then this argument sucks. I think that Aaron Meisner is engaging in emotional button pushing.

Speaking of emotional button pushing, here is another Meisner gem:

The idea is not to get a player's first dollar or even the first $1,000, but to get the player's last dollar, he said.

The machines prey on the poor and those least able to afford to gamble, and that will produce a spike in crime, he said, describing a scenario in which a husband who has lost his paycheck comes home, gets into an argument and beats his wife.

So, Meisner is of the opinion that the poor are too stupid to keep away from the slot machines, so they need government protection. The most ridiculous part of Meisner’s statement is the scenario of the husband that beats his wife after losing his paycheck at the slot machines. That’s imaginative. I can imagine a scenario when a man gets upset over a 20% increase in sales taxes, so he comes home and beats his wife. Therefore, the sales tax increase leads to higher crime. I could totally be a politician.

Update: I had initially written this post in a manner that attributed the anti-slots statements to Delegate Frank Turner. In fact, Aaron Meisner made those statements, not Delegate Turner. Thanks to Kem White for the clarification.


Anonymous said...

I hear 'racist' and I zone out anymore. If we notice someone is caucasian, af-amer, hisp, asian then we are racist. We're all racist in that regard, so lets get over it. Seriously people. It's over. Everyone is discriminated against at some point. Everyone.

And anyone who has driven south on 15 on Friday afternoon knows that we're loosing mega bucks to Charlestown.

But then again, some people do behave addictively and unlike golf, gambling has no health benefit (ok, golf leading to exercise is a stretch).

That wife beating comment was just strange. And if anything was "ist", that comment was sexist (against the man!).

Just don't put that gambling crap in my backyard. Yeah. That's right.

Kem White said...

A swing and a miss.

My take is that it was Aaron Meisner, president of Stop Slots Maryland, who said the comments you attribute to Delegate Turner. Turner only suggested that slots are needed to supplement revenues to plug budget shortfalls the coming two years.