“Most theorists of self-government have maintained that certain modest virtues are necessary to democracy and free markets: deferred gratification, diligence, a prudent concern for the future. There is an ongoing American debate about the degree to which government can or should promote such virtues. But here is an extraordinary case of government actively undermining the moral underpinnings of market capitalism for its own benefit. It holds out the promise of sudden wealth without work or productive investment, engaging in a purposeful and profitable deception. A corrupting fantasy becomes a revenue stream, dependent on persuading new generations to embrace it. Perhaps we have given up on government as a source of moral improvement. Does this mean we must accept a government that profits by undermining public virtues? Nearly 20 years ago, William Galston and David Wasserman wrote, “While history indicates that gambling is too ubiquitous to suppress, moral considerations suggest that it is too harmful to encourage. The most appropriate state stance toward gambling is not encouragement, but rather containment.”’
——- Washington Post op-ed columnist Michael Gerson, on the implications of a new report by the Institute For American Values titled, “Why Casinos Matter.”
I have nothing new to add that would significantly enhance Gerson’s excellent analysis, or that would differ from my previous posts on the topic of state-run gambling here, here, here, here, here, and here. Perhaps the most basic discussion of what is wrong with state-run gambling, though the post doesn’t even reference it by name, is this 2010 post, “The Ethics of Giving Up On Ethics.” I had forgotten about it, and you know, it’s pretty good, even if I do say so myself. It is also germane.
As I wrote in one of those gambling posts, and something similar in all of them…
“By running gambling operations themselves, the state now officially pronounces gambling legal, desirable and good. This is a core function of government (one that libertarians deny and detest), the job of delineating the moral and ethical values of society by its laws, conduct and policy. If the government and its leaders not only permit harmful conduct, but engage in it and urge citizens to engage in it too, they have pronounced that conduct good. This is called irresponsible and reckless leadership. It is also called corruption….”
In other words, what he said. I haven’t visited this issue for while, because I think the ethics verdict is obvious, and my views are not going to change. Still, it is important to remind ourselves of the gradual, accelerating abandonment of responsible government across the country, and the especially damning hypocrisy of the politician of the left, who claim to champion the poor while exploiting them, and the right, which abandons its moral values for cheap and destructive fiscal gimmicks…especially since drug legalization is poised to follow the same unethical path
Source: Washington Post