Saturday, May 06, 2006

Libertarians and State Sponsored Gambling

Glen Dean, in discussing a Nashville Eye piece by Mark Rose, explains how a libertarian can oppose the lottery:

Sometimes people ask me how I can oppose gambling and call myself a libertarian. The answer is, I don't oppose gambling. I oppose a state run lottery. There is a big difference. The lottery is a tax, and not only that, it is a tax on the poor.

This is an excellent point too infrequently made. The lottery has typically been opposed by social conservatives, while fiscal and small government conservatives have often sat on the sidelines or even supported state run lotteries. In doing so, they ignore the fact that the lottery represents a radical expansion of a state government that is being given the right to compete with private entertainment venues for the discretionary spending dollars of consumers. Further, given the mathematics involved, advertising of the lottery amounts to a direct effort by government to encourage people to act foolishly.

Meanwhile, although some on the left have recognized that using lottery revenues as a mechanism for paying for scholarships represents a perverse redistribution of wealth from the poor to the middle class, the number of those who have spoken out against this is far too few.

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