‘Tis The Morning Before Christmas Ethics Warm-Up, 12/24/18!

Merry Christmas!

1 Christmas gift ethics. What’s your opinion of a relative who says that the only thing she wants for Christmas is for family members to donate to her favorite leftist candidate for City Council? I don’t recall the Christmas tradition being “Make people do whatever you would do” Day, do you? Let’s have a Christmas Eve poll!

2. Change: I now believe “the wall” is necessary and the President’s resolve is ethical. My change of heart comes after watching all Democrats and many Republicans simultaneously say they want secure borders and then continue to encourage illegal immigration with their rhetoric and votes. The wall is necessary to send an unequivocal message, which has been Trump’s message since he announced his candidacy: “Come here legally, or don’t come. If you get here by breaking our laws, you are not welcome and will never be welcome, no matter what you do.”

Correctamundo!

Anti-Trump GOP Senator Bob Corker claims that the showdown over authorization of funding for the Wall is a “made-up fight, so the president can look like he’s fighting, but even if he wins, our borders are going to be insecure.” It’s not a “made-up” fight at all. Republicans have been afraid to upset Hispanic-Americans and Democrats want nice, reliable, left-voting poor folks to swell the voting rolls, so they have sent deliberately mixed messages, particularly regarding the “Dreamers.” If a wall did nothing other than stop “migrant caravans,” it would be worth it.

Trump also promised a wall. Breaking promises is not the same as a lie, unless the promise was a lie when it was made, but Trump, who we have been told lies incessantly, has also been far more determined to fulfill campaign promises than any President within memory. (Obama promised to address the national debt. He promised to have the most transparent administration in history. He promised  that lthe use of chemical weapons by Syria would be the “red line.” He promised to be President of all the people, not just Democratic base demographic groups. He promised that if you like your heath care plan…well, you know the rest.)

It is the Democratic position on the wall that is a sham, because the money involved is a relative pittance. They are grandstanding, and the President is not.

3.  Slot machine ethics. How did I miss this? Three Las Vegas visitors who hit multi-million dollar jackpots playing slot machines are fighting the casinos’ efforts to void the pay-offs on the grounds that the machines “malfunctioned.” The episodes all occurred earlier this year. Unless there is a prominent notice on or around the slots pointing out that there is a limit to the payoff in any single play and specifying what the limit is, I think the casinos are obligated to live with losing whatever one of their evil, manipulative, Skinnerian machines cough up.

This isn’t like a malfunctioning ATM machine. Players are led to believe that whatever comes out when they pull the lever or push the button is theirs. If casinos can say that their machines malfunctioned and they are not responsible for the result, then gamblers should have the same option: “I’m sorry, but my limit on gambling losses was just $500. I shouldn’t be responsible for the additional $10,000 I lost on blackjack, because I malfunctioned.” Continue reading

Greyhound Racing Is Dying. Good.

greyhound racing

The Washington Post informs us that greyhound racing, a  once popular form of gambling that as recently as 1991 brought in $3.5 billion and was operated at more than 50 tracks in 15 states, is in freefall and headed to oblivion. Betting on the dogs netted only $665 million in 2012, and just 21 tracks remain in seven states, with some of them already on borrowed time. Any decline in state sanctioned gambling is good news (yes, I am shedding no tears over the closing of one casino after another in Atlantic City, even the ones not owed by Donald Trump), but dog racing was always a particularly unsavory and unethical breed of the malady. Good riddance. The sooner that last greyhound has chased his last mechanical rabbit, the better off we are.

I have a bias here, it is true. My uncle, the youngest brother of my mom, was addicted to dog racing in Massachusetts, where the “sport” was banned in 2010, but not in time to save Uncle Charlie. He had a wife and two sons, and worked hard as a truck driver, but threw away an unconscionable percentage of his limited resources betting on racing canines. Maybe he would have crippled his prospects and harmed his family by finding other ways to waste his money if there had been no greyhound racing; probably he would have. Nevertheless, it was this corrupt, ugly, stupid gambling industry that wrecked his life. I hate it.

Dog racing was initially linked to allowing slot machines, another evil beast, to become legal, as little by little—first lotteries, then casinos—the states abandoned their ethical duties to embrace the cheap income that could be made by enticing the poor and the stupid to blow their paychecks on false hopes of a big jackpot. One they were hooked on the instant gratification of video poker and credit card one-armed bandits, however, greyhound racing became too slow a method of losing money. “It’ll take you half an hour to lose $50 at a racetrack. You can do it in five minutes sitting in front of a slot machine, ” said an insider interviewed by the Washington Post. This is called progress. Continue reading

Ethics Quote Of The Week: Washington Post Columnist Michael Gerson

casino_large

“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.” Continue reading

Maryland’s Question 7: A Lesson in Progressive Corruption

Think of the children!

Maryland is supposedly one of the most progressive states in the country. One can make one’s own calculations about what it means that such a state is ready to wholeheartedly embrace government-sanctioned gambling as the easy and cowardly solution to its fiscal problems, despite the fact that the populations most harmed by gambling are the very people good progressives are supposed to care about most. My assessment is that resorting to gambling for state revenue is irresponsible, callous, venal and hypocritical. But an unholy alliance of cynical liberals, who argue for gambling because its ill-gotten tax revenue will support education (and we all know that the more money you pay teachers, the better educated our children will be), greedy business interests, and libertarians, who regard gambling as “victimless,” is now poised to add casino table gambling to the state’s sanctioned traps for its poor, desperate, dumb, corrupt and addicted. should Maryland’s voters approve “Question 7” on the ballot November 6th.

How progressive. Continue reading

The Casinos and the Whale

Japanese tycoon Terrance Watanabe gambled away nearly $127 million at the Caesar’s Palace and Rio casinos in 2007, and now is suing the casinos even as he faces criminal charges for refusing to pay them over $15 million in additional debts. He claims that the gambling establishments allowed him to gamble while intoxicated in violation of state casino regulations, and otherwise share blame for his outlandish losses, believed to be the most any gambler has amassed in a single year. Continue reading