“Blog Bunker” retrospect

At 5 pm today, the 23rd, I participated on the “Blog Bunker” program on Indie Talk 110, on Sirius, a subscription satellite radio medium.  The host for today was Joe Salzone.  He dedicated the entire show to the Wall Street meltdown and the bailout proposal before Congress.  I wanted to talk a bit about how that issue plays out in Ohio, especially from the perspective of a McCain supporter.  Mr. Salzone is one of those rare persons supporting Bob Barr.  The host was very gracious.  He allowed callers to have their say without interruption. The callers were excellent, and a few had some very poignant information to share.

I had to admit that polls show that voters favor Obama on the economy.  I acknowledged that Republicans in Congress are divided about how to proceed.  I also conceded that John McCain is still gathering and processing information on the matter, and is still crafting his approach to the matter.  I credited Ron Paul with being accurate in his predictions about our economy.  I acknowledged that there is plenty of blame to go around between Wall Street, the White House, past Presidential Administrations, and both parties in Congress.

I opined that McCain is still in the hunt because of his reassuring message of reform and his leadership image.  I opined that Obama hadn’t closed the deal yet because his economic proposals, as presented at townhall meetings, are often buried deep in a stump speech that is devoted mostly to blaming Bush, Wall Street lobbyists, and Republicans in Congress, notably McCain.  While the Obama camp may hope that he is capable of portraying McCain as Herbert Hoover, it hardly seems the stuff of leadership to just rant and rant and rant about McCain without putting his own proposals front and center, first and foremost.  By contrast, McCain and Palin have been highlighting their proposals BEFORE delving into their prepared stump speeches. They don’t dwell for dozens of minutes on end on playing the blame game, but they do spread the blame to everyone, including those in their party.  They reiterate that they’ve both had to upbraid members of their own party from time to time in order to do the right thing.  Their prepared stump speeches then reinforce their reform message, and coupling that message with that image of leadership has kept McCain from falling far behind Obama in Ohio.

I counted myself among those who are opposed to the bailout.  I noted how long the Japanese financial crisis has dragged on because they also attempted some artificial market interventions to soften the blow.  I said that we do need accountability, enforcement of existing regulations, correction and introduction of other regulations, plus more effective oversight, but I’m not in favor of socializing the financial sector and using $700 billion of taxpayer funds to bail out Wall Street.  I expressed skepticism that the bailouts would stave of severe economic shocks.  I am of the opinion that whether we proceed with bailouts or not, that other dominoes will fall, and that severe economic shocks will follow, so, why proceed with bailouts?  If we don’t proceed with bailouts, but we put good governance structures and regulations in place, I think the market can correct itself faster than if we proceed with bailouts.  I also admonished that families need to prepare themselves for future economic shocks, mentioning a prior blog article that encouraged families to stockpile household goods to better weather the bigger economic storm that may be headed our way.

The conversation was quickly-paced.  I’m not sure that I was always relevant or on point or had my wits about me all the time, but I had fun.

Deep-six Issue 6

Last night I saw a television advertisement promoting a “yes” vote on Issue 6.  Barf!

I want to urge all registered voters in Ohio to vote “NO!” on Issue 6.

I really wish the casino gambling industry would leave Ohio alone.  How many times have Ohio voters already voted “No” on these casino schemes?  So many that the casino industry should have gotten the message by now.

The tired old message of the advertisement was that some Ohioans travel out of state to gamble.  Big whoop-de-doo.  I’d venture to say that those making the casino trips are becoming fewer in number as time passes.  For one thing, it seems same-store revenues have leveled off and are currently waning in Indiana, Michigan, and West Virginia.  Even those who stay home and play the lottery are not participating as much.  Keno was supposed to fuel a new infusion of revenue into the lottery, but the word on the street is that Keno’s debut wasn’t all that successful.  Are these neighboring states really raking in a huge windfall from gamblers that are Ohio residents?  It sure doesn’t seem like it, with the way the economies of those states are tanking just like Ohio’s.  In every issue campaign to expand gambling in Ohio so far, the gambling industry has always tried to portray itself as a cure-all for what ails Ohio.  Yet, gambling surely hasn’t cured anything in neighboring states.

Issue 6 backers have their own web page.  The first tab I clicked on was labeled “Myths and Truths,” which only had a message of “Coming Soon,” on it.  Since, as of this writing, they haven’t discussed any myths or truths, let me share just a few.

THE BIGGEST MYTH OF ALL:  YOU WILL WIN THE JACKPOT

Truth: All the grandiose claims of the new jobs and tax revenues that the casino will generate is based upon . . . LOSERS!  The casino industry exists because it’s designed to make you LOSE money.  The casino can’t pay any taxes or any of its payroll unless customers lose.  However, the casino lures customers by pumping up their hopes of WINNING.  Another word for this seeming paradox is FRAUD.  Legalizing casinos is legalizing fraud.  A customer goes to the casino buying into all the hype about winning, but leaves empty-handed.  The customer did not receive what they paid for.  Fraud.

All the other myths, including the one on the website’s front page about the casino generating up to 5,000 new jobs, tie into the biggest myth of all, and tie in to the truth behind the myth, which is that people LOSE.

And what about that claim of up to 5,000 new jobs generated by the legalization of this solitary casino along a stretch of I-71 between Columbus and Cincinnati?  The key words are “up to,” which renders the number, itself, meaningless.  “Up to” means it might get as high as that number, but it might not.  So I can say the casino might create up to 5 jobs.  It might generate 5 jobs.  It might not.  I can say the casino might create up to 50 jobs.  I can say it might create up to 500 jobs.  It might create up to 5,000 jobs.  It might create up to 50,000 jobs.  It might create up to 500,000 jobs.  It might create up to 5,000,000 jobs.  What if I said legalizing this casino might create up to 50,000,000 jobs, but it, in reality, only created 50 jobs?  Did I lie?  No.  Because I used the words “up to,” which doesn’t indicate any minimum, only a maximum.  I never used the words “at least,” which would would have indicated a minimum.  So, don’t pay any attention to the number, as it’s meaningless when preceded by the words “up to.”

Another myth is what each county will receive in taxes on gambling revenues.  The projections mean nothing because they really don’t know how much revenue they would receive.  Also, the assumptions about the tax rates are based on the assumption that this casino would enjoy a monopoly in Ohio, with no competitors.  That’s a really huge assumption.  Can this solitary casino maintain it’s monopoly in Ohio?  Nope.  Native American nations, like the Eastern Shawnee, have already staked claims for where they will build casinos.  The only catch is that Ohio doesn’t allow casinos, so these claims have laid dormant.  Once Ohio allows this first casino, there is no way that the other claims can be denied.  The first casino may fight the efforts to allow competition (here’s their flimsy, wishful-thinking argument) from the Eastern Shawnee and other Native American nations, but once the issue reaches the courtrooms, forget about it.  Existing Federal laws will permit the Native American nations to operate casinos in Ohio once the state opens the door for the first casino.  The tax deal accompanying Issue 6 says that if the first casino doesn’t maintain its monopoly in Ohio, that it would be taxed at the same rate as the competitor that pays the lowest taxes.  The Native American nations are exempt from paying taxes on their casino revenues.  Therefore, once the Native American nations break the casino monopoly, $0 tax dollars will be generated by the casino legalized by Issue 6.

Middle-class Americans fork over their hard-earned dollars to Middle East oil barons, and we run the risk of terrorist threats because of it.  Middle-class Americans fork over their hard-earned dollars to pay the mortgage, and Wall Street mishandles it.  Middle-class Americans fork over their-hard earned dollars to the Federal government, and the Federal government uses it to bail out the same Wall Street bigwigs that mishandled the money we sent them.  Why should middle-class Ohioans fork over their hard-earned dollars to line the pockets of some filthy stinking rich casino owners?  I’m sick and tired of the filthy stinking rich, whether they be in the Middle East, in Washington, on Wall Street, or anywhere else, always conniving new ways of reaching into our pockets.  Stay out of my pocket!  And that includes the casino owners!

For those who are Libertarian who think that Ohio ought to allow casinos, let me assure you that Issue 6 is no Libertarian proposal.  If it were a Libertarian proposal, then we wouldn’t be talking about legalizing a casino monopoly within the state.  If it were a Libertarian proposal, it would simply be a blank check allowing anyone to open a casino in any community in the state without any barriers to competition, much like anyone can open a restaurant or a convenience store in any community in the state.  Issue 6 still makes it illegal for the ordinary person to open a casino.  Only one entity will be permitted to open a casino, and that entity is described thusly:

The MyOhioNow.com project is a joint venture with Lakes Entertainment, Inc. (NASDAQ: LACO), operators of premier gaming facilities located nationwide.

Looking over the petition language, I am reminded of the handiwork of disgraced former Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann, who always carried water for the gambling interests.

CERTIFICATION OF ATTORNEY GENERAL

Without passing on the advisability of the approval or rejection of the matter referred, but pursuant to the duties imposed on the Attorney General’s Office under Section 3519.01(A) of the Ohio Revised Code, I hereby certify that the summary is a fair and truthful statement of the proposed initiated constitutional amendment, adding Article XV, § 6a(A)-(G).

Marc Dann
Attorney General
December 20, 2007

Finally, I want to talk a little bit about gambling’s REAL impact on the economy.

If I were to buy a sofa from a store, I would gain something tangible, a sofa.  The store I bought it from would gain something tangible, my cash.  With the cash, the store would meet its financial obligations, like paying rent to the leasing agent, and paying the wages of the sales associates.  Furthermore, the store would seek to replenish its inventory, so it would place an order for a sofa to be shipped from a distribution center.  The distribution center would ship another sofa to the store.  The distribution center would receive more sofas from the manufacturer to maintain the distribution center’s inventory.  The manufacturer would keep on churning out new sofas.  In addition to paying worker wages, the manufacturer also orders components and supplies with which to make the sofas, so orders are placed for wood, fabric, screws, etc.  Buying a sofa has a multiplier ripple effect on the economy.  A lot of economic activity is sustained by purchasing a product.

In contrast, if I took the same amount of money needed to buy a sofa and I lost it all while gambling in the casino, I bring home nothing tangible.  The casino owner has to pay a few employees and a few utility bills in order to keep operating, but that’s it.  Since you went home empty handed, no inventory had to be replenished, so your hard-earned cash never went up any supply chain creating more ripples in the economy.  Your money went into the pocket of a casino owner, who was rich to begin with, and didn’t really need your money, even though the casino owner was greedy for your money.  What does the casino owner do with the money?  Maybe the money gets stashed in an off-shore bank account in the Cayman Islands.  The money was siphoned out of the economy.  It’s no longer in circulation.  The money is gone and you’ve got nothing to show for it.  This is why Indiana’s economy is not being helped by the casinos.  This is why Michigan’s economy is not being helped by the casinos.  I could keep going.  The point is, Ohio’s economy won’t be helped by a casino.  It will only seek to further impoverish Ohio’s population to satisfy its own greed.

DJW debut on satellite radio

Yours truly, the Buckeye RINO, has been invited to participate today, September 23rd, on “The Blog Bunker,” a Sirius satellite radio talk show on Indie Talk 110, beginning at 5 pm EDT.  On the Indie Talk Channel 110 program line-up page, the listing for “The Blog Bunker” is accompanied by this program description:

A cutting-edge roundtable featuring a selection of the over 100 million bloggers around the globe.

If you are a Sirius subscriber, you are welcome to listen in and call the program with your comments.  I don’t know how well or how poorly I will do, but, if you’ve seen my photo on my “About” page, you surely realize that, at least, I have a face for radio.