Wednesday, February 4, 2009

How about $50 for the hooker, $50 for the pimp and $25 for Rendell?


These are tough times, and I tend to give government officials a little leeway when it comes to thinking up ways to get us out of our economic mess. But I can’t get on board with Gov. Ed Rendell’s plan to allow video poker gambling in bars, restaurants and private clubs as a way to provide financial aid to college students. As you might know, gambling on video poker, at least outside the state’s new casinos, is illegal in Pennsylvania. And I’ve always considered legalized gambling to be an additional tax on the poor and stupid. But the Rendell administration clearly isn’t bothered by such trivialities. In fact, Stephen Stetler, the state’s acting revenue secretary and early front-runner for stupid statement of the year, says allowing tens of thousands of video poker machines in bars across the commonwealth would not be an expansion of gambling because, get this, that type of gambling already is going on in the state, albeit illegally. Stetler believes there already are about 17,000 illegal video poker machines up and running in Pennsylvania, and he said the state’s move to legalize the activity is just “a recognition that video poker is already a thriving industry in Pennsylvania.” Number one, if video poker gambling in bars, restaurants and clubs is legalized, we’ll have a helluva lot more than 17,000 machines in the state. So, that clearly is an expansion of legalized gambling. Also, if we’re going to “recognize” illegal activities that already exist in the state and co-opt them for the benefit of all Pennsylvanians, I guess the Rendell administration will very soon be pushing for the legalization of recreational drugs so they can be taxed (something I would be in favor of, by the way; if the state is going to sell and tax booze, why not marijuana?). And why stop there? The state could get in the prostitution business, as well. We’ll probably have to appoint a study committee to determine the appropriate state cut from oral sex, regular sex, kinkier activities and the various sampler packages one might procure. But, hey, there’s money to be made here. Damn the morality! Full speed ahead!

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15 Comments:

Blogger Murphy's Cats said...

I love it! I had the same thoughts when I read this in the paper. Let's take even more money from the people stupid enough to throw it away in those illegal machines, not to mention people with a gambling addiction. That will really help, yeah.

Brant, you really should be doing standup comedy, or have your own show.

February 4, 2009 at 12:01 PM  
Blogger Brant said...

Hey, in these difficult times, I'm just happy to have Blogger. ;-)

February 4, 2009 at 12:07 PM  
Blogger Ellipses said...

I don't see the difference between the PA lottery and slots/poker machines... I give scratch offs as a gift... and if I am buying cigarettes in the gas station and happen to have a buck or two in my wallet, I will buy a couple tickets... I am fully aware that there is a 90% chance I just flushed two bucks down the toilet, a 9.9999999999% chance that I will win a "free" ticket... and a .00000000001% chance that I will win whatever it is the frog or the leprechaun says I can win.

Some people think slots are fun... Some people like playing cards, but don't have the social skills to play with actual people :-)

The fact is, with a lottery ticket... it's a buck. It won't break the bank or put my family on the street... but, if I wanted to, I could easily drain my account and buy a wagonload of tickets... and slots and poker machines are the same way.

What I do have an issue with is that they choose to fund really important stuff with "vice" money... Education and health care and infrastructure and stop smoking campaigns and stop drinking campaigns and seniors and all that... God forbid if people actually stopped smoking, drinking and gambling... our youth and elderly would be SCREWED!

Legalize it, regulate it, and tax it... and then have the money go to something stupid that nobody will miss if the revenue dries up. Let them have their little pork projects but fund it with this fun money...

Yes, it's a tax on the poor and ignorant... but it's just like the allegheny drink tax... it's OPTIONAL... that's the best kind of tax.

February 4, 2009 at 12:10 PM  
Blogger Brant said...

I'd be in favor of eliminating property taxes and raising the sales tax (while exempting food and clothing). If you buy, you pay. If you buy more and more and more, you pay accordingly. If you're frugal, you don't pay as much to the state.

February 4, 2009 at 12:23 PM  
Blogger Ellipses said...

I like that one, too...

February 4, 2009 at 12:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Illegal video poker machines have been benefitting shady vendors for years because they are illegal. If they were legalized, they could be taxed and benefit everybody. Did you know that many municipalities in this county, especially the city of Washington, charge annual "licensing" fees of anywhere from $100 to (Monongahela) $500 for poker machines? Other "amusement" devices, such as jukeboxes, pool tables, foosball, etc. are charged at a rate of about $25 a year. So, the municipalities are already condoning this activity and state police roll out a video poker seizure operation every year or two to bring in some extra revenue. Illegal video poker is rampant in Pa, just like church bingo, football pools (which I'm SURE you don't participate in at your office like the rest of us) and scratch-off tickets. Guess what? It isn't going away and it doesn't cause disease or ruin lives. Real gambling addicts don't waste their time on video poker. The odds suck. It's been part of our culture in a way that Prostitution and drugs isn't in Western Pa. It's absurd and naive to let video poker continue underground when so much money could be made through taxation. It's never been politically palatable to shut down video poker altogether or to outwardly condone it. But You can't blame casinos for bitching about it - you would too if you just spent $100 million on a slots license. But, they seem to favor this legalization. It's time things like this change. Your morals may be rubbed the wrong way, but our crappy Bush economy now requires creative thinking like this.

February 4, 2009 at 1:37 PM  
Blogger Brant said...

You make some valid points. Appreciate the input. But if you don't think drugs and prostitution are a significant part of our culture in Western Pa., you don't get out much. I'm just saying, if we're going to start legalizing things that are currently illegal and reap the benefits of doing so, why stop with poker machines. The opportunities are endless. I do, in fact, participate in things like football block pools, and I spend $2 a week on Powerball. I know, I'm a big risk taker. However, I have never been to a casino. It's not really a moral thing, just a lack of interest, and it won't stop me from hitting the buffet when The Meadows gets the permanent casino up and running.

February 4, 2009 at 1:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that stale argument is the kind you hear whenever something that's already happening gets legalized.

-"We're bringing back alcohol, why not legalize drugs?"

-"You want to legalize gay marriage? Why not legalize marriage to children and animals? That's next, right?"


As to your continuing point about drugs and prostitution, let me say that just about everyone I know has or does gamble. I know only a handful of people who have had problems with drugs, and fewer who frequent prostitutes as far as I know. It just isn't the same. By "rampant" I mean a large segment of the population.

February 4, 2009 at 2:37 PM  
Blogger Brant said...

I know very few people who regularly play slot machines. I guess it just depends on your peer group. And there's a big difference between spending a couple of bucks on a block pool or a lottery ticket and spending $50 on playing slots. Also, I have no problem with the legalization, or at least decriminalization, of drug use. I'd much rather be on the road with a stoner than a drunk. And I've ridden in cars with both. Many years ago, of course. ;-) I also had friends who availed themselves of the services of "professional women," though I didn't partake in that myself. These things are all vices, to some degree.

February 4, 2009 at 2:48 PM  
Blogger Brant said...

One other thought. It always seemed wrong to me that the government engaged in its lottery, the Catholic Church had bingo and Las Vegas nights, the state sanctions casino gambling, yet guys like Mickey Flynn go to prison for doing the same stuff.

February 4, 2009 at 2:55 PM  
Blogger Ellipses said...

BTW, not that I know or anything... but where the hell do you get a 125 dollar hooker in washpa?

February 7, 2009 at 9:37 PM  
Blogger Brant said...

Is that too high or too low? I don't get out much.

February 8, 2009 at 8:20 AM  
Blogger Ellipses said...

My guess is that it's about 100 dollars too high...

February 8, 2009 at 11:35 AM  
Blogger Brant said...

I'm guessing we're not talking about the same quality of prostitute as the one who got Gov. Spitzer in trouble. ;-)

February 9, 2009 at 7:35 AM  
Blogger Ellipses said...

I would bet all my hooker money on that :-)

February 9, 2009 at 8:28 AM  

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