Monday, February 20, 2006

Gambling addictions

As casinos explode in number across the United States (how else can the most powerful nation in the world, spending over $500 billion on weapons and soldiers each year finance public education), it becomes more and more clear that an addiction to gambling has become a serious problem in the good old US of A.

An article in today's Chicago Tribune drives that point home, based on data gathered by the Center for Responsive Politics:

In 1990, the gambling industry "contributed" $478,000 to federal campaigns (that is, the "war chests" of individuals running for federal office, or more to the point, running to keep their position in Congress or control the Oval Office).

In 2004, that same industry forked over $13 million. Here are the top 5recipients from the 2004 election cycle:


Bush, George W (R)




Reid, Harry (D-NV)




Porter, Jon (R-NV)




Berkley, Shelley (D-NV)




Daschle, Tom (D-SD)



So who is addicted to gambling? I would venture to guess that our elected officials (I hestiate to call them our representatives, because it seems to me that they more closely represent corporate interests and CEOs, not the rest of us) fit the bill very nicely.


Tharg said...

Dear Mr Feuerstein,

correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't the amounts of cash paltry. I believe (from a position of admitted ignorance of American politics) that contributions to campaign funds can run into millions.

I have in mind the oil companies etc. who need political backers to continue as they do.

From a moral point of view, I can't help but admire your sentiments, but are you perchance rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic?

Wouldn't tackling one oil company blow these amounts of cash clear out of the water?

Yours in disputation (but not confrontation)


Steven Feuerstein said...

Well, Tharg, I don't disagree particularly. Certainly, the money flow from the gambling industry is likely not the top corrupter of our so-called elected representatives. I don't think, however, that it hurts to point out all the ways that our government officials are bought and paid for.

And I am sure some will read this and get irritated with me for such blanket condemnation of corporation contributions and lobbying.

Well...I am rather blanket-like about this. I believe that our political system should be separate from and take precedence over our economic system. I furthermore believe that corporations should not ever have been granted the same rights as citizens/people. Companies should be banned entirely from funding the political process in any and every way. Lobbyists should never be allowed to write or influence laws.

What can I say? That's what I believe.

I also happen to think that most people in this country know in their gut and are generally pretty open about their belief that almost all our elected leaders and many others in the government -- supposedly of, by and for "the people" -- is in the pockets of major corporations and corporate interests, which definitely do not have the same interests as citizens. OK, 'nuff ranting.

Tharg said...

Dear Mr Feuerstein,

thanks for the response.

I perceive a similar problem here, as we have had the "cash for questions" scandal, where MP's received back handers for raising questions in parliament. Unfortunately for the MP's in question, the backhanders were being delivered by under cover reporters for a tabloid newspaper, and were recorded in embarrassingly accurate detail.

We have this thing called "parliamentary privilege" whereby MP's can say literally anything in parliament and are immune from prosecution of any sort, so these dweebs can't be touched. (After all, it's parliament that makes the laws...)

My other rant is the non-executive directorshops that our ex-parliamentarians seem to acquire at an astounding rate, where they get paid £100K for working 1 day a month. Obviously they would never compromise their standards, by using their political contacts to promote a company's aims...

sigh, I guess human nature is the same, whichever side of the pond you are.



Anonymous said...

I don't see anything wrong with online gambling as long as their are safeguards in place to protect problem gamblers. When you play online, you can play at your own pace, with no noise, no smoking, and lower stakes.