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Banking on Sin

Wednesday, March 11

These are indeed dark times.

And in dark times, sometimes, cloudy judgement can catch on and go from shameful whisper to shout, then ultimately, a full-throated rallying cry.

This seems to be the case in the first forays into how we jumpstart the bad economy. There seems to be a growing outcry for solutions involving one form of business. Nothing innovative, or particularly visionary, for that matter. It is really an idea that has sat on the shelf waiting for times like these; when weakened souls and those with weary gazes see no way forward, leaving themselves open to accepting the preposterous as normal.

The business is sin.

Not religious sin, but the oft-mentioned societal sin industries.

Over the last decade we have heard nothing (or almost nothing) from any of the business constituencies I will discuss in this posting. However, since early-October what started as a trickle, has become a veritble dam-bursting wave of positive media, all giving copious quantities of airtime to interests representing the business of sin.

There have been a number of articles, news stories and forums on making the business of sin work for the American taxpayer. The government needs tax revenue, so the theory goes, so lets:

  1. Legalize land-based gambling in more communities accross the country.

  2. Make prostitution legal in more communities accross the country.

  3. Lower the age for legal alcohol consumption in all 50 states.

  4. Make drugs, such as marijuana, legal in certain states.

  5. Allow alcohol to be sold 24 hours a day, seven days a week in states where the practice is prohibited.

I am not making this up. Here are a few atricles that argue the merits of each of these as a solution to dwindling tax revenue.

Issue 1:

South Carolina Senator Seeks to Overhaul Gambling Laws

Texas Casino Gambling Bill Coming Tomorrow

Kansas Gambling Debate Begins, Even Though Lawmakers Say No

Issue 2:

Vegas pilot program for legal brothels killed

Should prostitution be legalized?

Issue 3:

Campaign on to lower drinking age

Minnesota Considers Lowering Drinking Age

Boulder police chief to advocate lower drinking age on '60 Minutes'

Issue 4:

It may be time to legalize marijuana

Ground breaking bill to legalize and tax marijuana in California

Los Angeles Daily News: “Time Has Come To Legalize Pot!”

Issue 5:

Georgetown OK's Sunday Drink Sales

Lawmakers Debate Sunday Alcohol Sales

Arkansas Eliminates Blue Law That Banned Sunday Alcohol Sales

As you can see, these are really being looked at as viable answers to our problems.

Anyone with a brain can deflate these arguments without much effort. Here are my reasons:

More land-based casinos - Here is a sentence I will hear the day after pigs fly, "My wife and I just got back from our summer home in Gary, IN." Enough said, as gambling was supposed to turn that city around.

Make prostitution legal in more areas of the United States - Have you lost your %&$# mind? Prostitution is, wait for it....wait for it.... HUMAN TRAFFICKING!!!! Also, whatever tax benefit your state could gain would be offset by the increase in expenditures for medical care to throngs of uninsured streetwalkers. Get a grip (pun intended)!

Lowering the legal age to drink - Why not lower the age to runaway? Why not lower the age to sign legal contracts? Why not lower the age to legally work in the U.S.? Why not lower the age for advised consent? I know my 10 year-old son would give his kidney for fair trade. Something like say, Mario Party for Nintendo Wii. This is s State's Right's issue, and I know the age varies regionally, but the idea of moving the age downward opens the door for further revision, which is scary.

Legalize marijuana, or other drugs - Doing so will IMMEDIATELY FREE between 800,000 and 1.2 million inmates from correctional facilities across the country, which is not the main issue. Mind you, these will be mostly unemployable, markedly different people than entered the system, even if they were only there for a short time. 

The real problem relates to one of America's dirty little secrets, small town America's financial dependence on the U.S. penal system for jobs and tax revenue.

Why are prisons dotting the landscape of so many small towns in America? Because those towns allowed themselves to buy into the "increased tax-revenue" argument during the last major economic downturn during the early-mid 1980's.

These small towns have seen everything else in their local economies wiped out during the massive corporate consolidation of the "Booming 90's", and now stand totally dependent upon the prisons to provide low-paying jobs and a pittance in taxes to sustain their rapidly eroding communities. 

So you see, halving the prison population is not going to help jump-start anyone's economy, as the unintended consequences are too great to consider.

Round-the-clock liquor sales - really the same argument as lowering the age for minors. As soon as this is allowed, look for the major distributers to start offering alcoholic "breakfast products". Think I am insane? Well think again, how do you think Bloody Mary's came into existence? 

The real problem is these are ALL Old Economy solutions. They have been stewing for their shot at daylight for the last 30-some-odd years. 

These people lack imagination, don't they?

When  applying New Economy thinking to the problem of sin, I think not of giving more access to the "sins" that already plague our society, but of exposing and eradicating ancient, entrenched ideologies that hide behind the banner of "righteousness." Let's review a few and see if you agree with me that positivity and inclusiveness would serve as better roads to travel on the road to recovery, economic and otherwise.

Gay Marriage
There is no reasonable reason two people that want to spend their lives in matrimonial bliss (or hell) should not be allowed to do so. "But the Bible says"..."But the Constitution says"... Well the Constitution said (still may say) I am "3/5 man." Which is no problem for me, but when I go to pay my income tax and only send 60%, I get a call from the IRS each and every year.

People that oppose the right for same-sex couples to engage in the ritual practice of marrying one another are not "thoughtful", "pragmatic" or " holding on to tradition", they are simply prejudiced, fearful fools. holding onto something that left their grasp the nano-second people started standing up for themselves.

Can anyone name an occasion where people spend more money than weddings? I thought not!

Letting millions of people know that, hey, by the way, your citizenship allows for you to pursue your happiness in whichever way you find most befitting YOU, is not just practical and economically sound, but is inevitable. Do this now, superstitious dogma is Old Economy.

Universal Healthcare 
To keep this short, a sick mind is only capable of  sick thoughts.

As long as we continue to deny 90% of Americans the access to everything the medical establishment has to offer, we are killing off generations of great, innovative ideas. 

An individuals health is not a personal responsibility, unless you believe the individual has the power to conceive themselves. And I am talking totally free, too. Not pay as you go, or any other ridiculous option on the table. Finance does not belong in the world of medicine. 

A healthy, fully-engaged populace can only bring about the radical creativity needed to pull the country forward. Best of all, every unintended consequence of this policy is positive.

Now if you want a boob-job, or Viagra, you are going to have to come out of pocket for that.

Members of the United States Congress (both Senators and Congressmen) are paid $174,000 per annum and receive FULL COVERAGE health and dental benefits for themselves and their families AT NO COST, how can they, in good conscience, vote no when the median income for a family with 2 working adults is just above $50,000? They cannot, and should not be allowed to get away with it any longer.

So there it is America, two quick ideas from a list of many. Sin may forestall a free-fall, but is never the way out of a mess. Utilize the principles of the New Economy and kill off dogmas to tap into new economic opportunities that await, while improving our society at the same time. 

It just makes cents.



2009 ·clean needles by TNB