Had a chance recently to visit a casino in the middle of the day. A friend and I were on our way to a baseball game. But the weather was sweltering, we couldn’t find parking anywhere near the venue, and the hour grew late.
So instead of attending America’s most boring pastime, at her suggestion we drove to a nearby casino so she could shoot dice and I could observe denizens of the urban deep losing their grocery and rent money.
The place did not disappoint. Brightly lit, garishly festooned with Asian slot themes that would put a 1970s era Kung Fu movie to shame, people mechanically stared at the machines hoping against hope to score. There was no thrill of the gamble, no smiling winners, no yelps of victory. Just sad badly dressed people gazing into nothingness.
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The patrician impulse in me wanted to make it stop. Noblesse oblige demanded I thrash the casino owners and operators and stop them from ruining the meager assets of the pathetic masses.
But then I put aside thoughts of grandfather’s alleged Spanish title and the libertarian in me regained control. Yup, these people have every right to crash and burn, to sink their lives into a financial abyss and I, and or the government, have no right nor civic duty nor rightful power to protect them from themselves. We have taken the brother’s keeper option and run amok.
Now don’t get me wrong. Individual charity is a wonderful thing. I worked for several years running homeless shelters and the generosity of people can be truly inspiring. But their giving was voluntary. No government tax bureau, no empire building bureaucrats, no statist busybodies mandated donations to the shelters. That’s as it should be. Because when government gets involved most things go straight to hell.
If a person wants to ingest presently illegal natural plants and chemicals that a never-ending War on Drugs has not been able to stop, go for it. If people want to get married, is a government license really necessary? If they want to lose the mortgage at the roulette wheel, not a problem. If women, by their own free will, want to work as professional courtesans, no skin off my…nose.
Ah, you say, isn’t that a rationale for abortion? If we can do essentially what we want with our own bodies why can’t a woman terminate a pregnancy? Well, an abortion just doesn’t involve a woman’s body.
It also involves a baby’s body. Just like the guy at the blackjack table can’t rob the guy next to him to play again, so you can’t murder an infant because the infant is a person who is not subject to your life and death whims.
But if you’re not injuring anyone else, then yeah, have at it. Though, don’t expect taxpayers to pick up the bill if you fall flat on your face. Charities? If they see fit to help, sure. Should we help those who truly can’t help themselves? Okay.
However, government spending isn’t charity. It’s actually legalized theft to pay for the cost of civilization, at least when it’s done correctly. It’s not a piggy bank to be broken into when citizens, as is their right, crash and burn.