No Gambling - Granite Grok

No Gambling

In the smoldering ruin of SB 489–this years gambling bill, even after a massive campaign by Millennium gaming and its big-money FixItNow NH campaign quarter-backed by their Public relations goo-roo Richard Killion, (whom I suspect is this guy), we get comments like this, from this morning’s Union Leader.

“What’s clear is that today’s vote runs contrary to the will of the people, who, overwhelmingly support expanded gaming and see it as the only acceptable new revenue option,” he said. “The people do not want higher taxes.”

The people do not want higher taxes.  But nothing else he says makes any sense unless he means the will of "the minority of" people who overwhelmingly support expanded gaming, and see it as the only acceptable option."  Isn’t language fun?

Richard really should have been around New England long enough to know that the one thing you can count on in New Hampshire is for voters to contact their state reps and let them know how they feel about an issue.  So from square one this statement is at the very least disingenuous.  Before we even get to square two we know that that is exactly what the people did, and the product of that opinion (how the House voted) is clearly represented in the roll call.  Consider the following.

The liberals burned a giant hole in the budget by spending first and looking for revenue after in two consecutive budgets, which Mr. Lack of leadership John Lynch just let them get away with.   They did it while the economy was in a nose dive, so those rosy revenue projections couldn’t possibly compete with their over spending.   

With very little intestinal fortitude available in an election year to go back after the democrats goal of one or more broad based taxes, the ‘desire’ to appear to do something else instead has been ratcheted up significantly. 

The gambling lobby dropped some serious cash—millions?—into a public relations campaign to shift popular opinion towards a pro-gambling solution to our democrat majorities budget problem.  There was clearly some cash and promises swirling around in Concord to get the votes in the House on both sides.  

And as always they had to fend off pressure from the “just let me do what I want crowd,” some of whom would happily ignore the sale of their legislature to a deep pocketed lobby for the short term goal of personal pleasure politics hiding under a thinly veiled cloak of improving liberty.  

So the House Reps could have easily avoided the “really hard choices” now needed to deal with a 250 million dollar and growing liberal/Lynch deficit by simply finding the will to vote for gambling. They didn’t.

Can we argue that a veto proof majority was unlikely, and that colored the vote?  We could.  But I think that shows up to some degree in the number not voting.   But if you consider that the veto threat has not been a real concern lately, and Lynch is a squish, I don’t think this mattered. 

Given all these factors, the House still voted it down.  That is not a legislature acting on its own.  They had every reason and opportunity to take the quick and easy path, even if only for the sake of what Killion should assume to be a vote for a positive public perception (remember, he says people overwhelmingly want this) in the face of a veto, and they still chose not to.  The people of New Hampshire did what they do.  They contacted their legislators, who then voted to kill SB 489 by a vote of 212 to 158.  Even if the 30 not voting cast votes for gambling, it still would have failed.  New Hampshire does not want expanded gaming.  Killion is wrong.

As to the second part of his remarks, let’s call it the “only acceptable revenue” clause, it assumes that we have a revenue problem, not a spending problem and that the only acceptable revenue option is gambling.  This is the kind of thinking only a liberal, a RINO, or a lobbyist could love.  Hey Mc Fly, we have a revenue problem because we have a spending problem. 

Our “problem” is the result of allowing the party of Dan Eaton, democrat from  “you have to know how much you want to spend before you look for revenue,” to make budgetary decisions with other people’s property based not on the needs of the state, but the desire of a party to create the shortest possible path to a broad based tax.   Gambling does not solve that problem.  The solution to our revenue problem is fewer democrats and Republicrats in the legislature, and someone with a spine in the governor’s office.  

My guidance–if you’ve read this far–when looking at revenue is this: The shortest path to small efficient government runs alongside revenue streams obtained via a bill for the amount of the taxes alone, delivered to the taxpayer, who must then write out the check to pay for them.  The more taxes you collect by other means, fees, fines, sales or income, phone, utility, gaming, and so on, the larger your government, and the bigger your “Revenue Problems,”  forever and ever, Amen.  The fewer of these you have the smaller the government, and the greater the liberty. 

Broad based taxes, sales taxes, gambling, utility taxes and programs like RGGI, they all funnel revenue in small amounts, from many places, into the state coffers without the burden of any one persons intimate knowledge of a large transaction.   That is exactly what the spenders need to grow government without your permission.  It’s money most people will barely notice until it’s gone and the politicians are asking for more. 

If all your phone or utility taxes and fees came in one separate bill twice a year you’d be calling your State Rep in a heartbeat, every six months. Which brings us back to gambling. 

Gambling builds big government, run more and more by lobbyists and unaccountable politicians, and it builds it quickly with less or no accountability to the taxpayers.  If you don’t care about the potential crime and social risks of gambling addiction, you had best start caring about the addicts in the state house.

So while I agree that gambling is a decision that grownups should be free to make in a constitutional republic, grownups need to understand what they are trading for that particular personal liberty because it comes at the cost of our ability to ensure liberty for our posterity.  We’d be selling out the privilege of local control for the “privilege” of gambling.  Given what we already know about government, is that ever going to be a risk worth taking?

 Cross Posted From NH Insider