Wednesday, October 29, 2008

No for slots

The Slot legislation is very popular in my neighborhood. Everyone and their brother has a pro-slots sign displayed in their yard. Up to now I have been indifferent towards slots, but as the election nears I have been thinking more about them. I think that question 2 is bad idea.

I have no problem at all with the straight up legalization of slots. If question 2 was simply going to legalize slots and therefore allow private companies to operate slot facilities, I would be in favor of it. However, if the slots referendum is passed it will create a state run monopoly. Slot machines are private goods in that they are rival and excludable; therefore there is no fundamental reason why it makes sense to have the government operating them. This is almost like repealing the prohibition laws of the 1920's but establishing the government as a monopolistic brewer.

Secondly, the referendum is filled with add-ons to please special interest groups. A certain amount of the slots profits will go to fund education (making the Teachers Union very happy) and some of the profits will be turned into subsidies for the horse racing industry (making the farm lobby very happy). There are even some hand outs to minority owned businesses in the slots referendum. This is how politicians work: they can’t do anything without kissing the ass of special interest groups first.

The government will always spend more that it brings in. If you increase revenues, be those revenues from taxes or from slots profits, the government will blow through that money in the blink of an eye. The only way to balance a government budget the size of ours is to cut spending. Rationalizing that slots will ultimately lower taxes is just plain foolish.

Smaller government is better, and creating a government run slot monopoly will only increase the size of the government. This is why voting in favor of question 2 is a very bad idea.


Kem White said...

Though I arrive at the "vote no on Q2" via a somewhat different road than you, we agree on this. MD residents should pay for state government services - whatever we decide they should be - without having to shill for gambling interests.

I think a straight-up "slots in MD - yes or no" referendum would be very illuminating. I'd still vote no, but I think that question is the more principled one.

Anonymous said...

A more interesting post would be betting on the margin by which slots will win.

My estimate: 75% in favor.

Anonymous said...

It's ironic that slots were a big NO when Ehrlich was governor, but now that O'Malley is governer, it is the best idea in Maryland's history. Michael Busch is a dirty rat only interested in playing party politics.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:33 - Exactly right.