Gambling on Alabama

Gambling.  What is it?  Is it good or bad?  Is it entertainment?  Recently, Spencer Bachus, Congressman from Alabama, and Barney Frank, Congressman from Massachusetts, debated internet gambling in a hearing on a bill proposed by Rep. Frank to once again legalize internet gambling.  According to Rep. Bachus, internet gambling brings the casino into the home and can lead to addiction, debt, and family strife. 

What can’t?  Should we outlaw credit cards?  Is that not a form of addiction which can lead to debt and family strife?  Yet, our government lets credit card companies run over individuals who are not financially literate (and even those who are).  Should we return to prohibition?  Alcohol can be addictive and lead to family strife.  Is this just another form of the religious right asserting its will on the rest of the public?

Alabama attempted to bring a lottery to the State when Governor Siegelman was in office, but it was voted down for similar reasons as those Bachus presented at the hearing.  It seems as though Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, and Mississippi citizens are doing just fine with their lotteries and casinos.  In fact, Georgia has done so well that many students have been able to obtain free college degrees, and the school has become very difficult to get into from out-of-state.  European countries seem to be okay with gambling.  What is it about America that we think certain activities are immoral?  What is it about America that we think we cannot let individuals regulate themselves?

What isn’t gambling?  When we go drive a car, we are gambling someone else won’t hit us.  When we invest in the stock market, we are gambling that companies or mutual funds will increase in value.  Life is a gamble, and the government should not be able to tell us what entertainment activities are moral or immoral.  As long as a certain activity does not interfere with the lives of others, we should be able to engage in those activities.  In fact, Rep. Frank argued, “I have no quarrel with people who think gambling is wrong.  My quarrel is with people who, in thinking gambling is wrong, want to prevent other people from doing it,” and that is the real problem – people imposing their moral values or religious beliefs on others. 

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