Liberty Economics

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Supporting the police who enforce Sheldon Adelson’s racket

Recently, Senator Harry Reid criticized the Koch brothers for being motivated by the pursuit of wealth while defending his nexus with the billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson. Senator Reid’s apologia of Sheldon Adelson is that Adelson is not motivated by the pursuit of wealth. Adelson doesn’t seek money. Money seeks Adelson. See: http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/harry-reid-don-t-pick-on-sheldon-adelson

Let’s start with this axiom: there’s a distinction between what’s illegal and what’s criminal. In other words, just because something is illegal pursuant to statutory law doesn’t make it a criminal act. Just because something is legal doesn’t make it lawful or moral. In many instances, enforcing a statute is itself a criminal act. When the government does whatever it wants, that’s called lawlessness.

Gambling is not a criminal activity. If it were, then Sheldon Adelson has a lot of explaining to do. If something is a criminal activity, it shouldn’t be legal under any circumstances. The government ought not selectively grant permission to people to rape one another through a licensing scheme.

I’m not saying gambling is a good thing to engage in, but it shouldn’t be illegal. Gambling is legal in Nevada and on Indian reservations. Apparently, the former police chief of Savannah-Chatham, Georgia, agrees with me that it would be immoral to enforce anti-gambling statutes. For that, he is now being prosecuted. See: http://chronicle.augusta.com/news/metro/2014-06-05/former-savannah-chatham-police-chief-indicted-federal-gambling-extortion

Former Savannah-Chatham Metro police chief Willie Lovett is being prosecuted for having taken payoffs from an “illegal” (i.e. non-government-accredited) gambling enterprise to not enforce anti-gambling statutes. He received money in exchange for protecting the enterprise from the LEO that he ran. Repealing anti-gambling statutes would remove the demand for the protection services sold by the former police chief.

Let’s establish another axiom: as Murray Rothbard saliently articulated, bribery isn’t inherently wrong. When an employer pays an employee to work, that employer is bribing the employee. If somebody pays a neighbor to mow their yard, that person is bribing the neighbor to mow their yard. If somebody pays somebody to murder somebody, that’s totally immoral and criminal and needs to be stopped. The consequential issue is not that a person paid somebody to do something. The consequential issue is what the person paid to have done.

In the case of Willie Lovett, his “transgression” was in not enforcing anti-gambling statutes. From a moral point of view, it would be wrong to jail people who voluntarily engage in a victimless activity. Unless somebody was forced to gamble against their will, it makes no sense to call gambling a crime. From an economic point of view, shutting down the gambling enterprise would not be in the interest of the local government. Instead, it would make more economic sense for the local government to leave the enterprise intact and collect taxes – kind of like what the former police chief was doing. Objectively, the former police chief is being prosecuted for behaving like a tax collector rather than a kidnapper.

Prosecuting Willie Lovett for doing the right thing by not enforcing unjust statutes against gambling makes sense only from the point of view of Nevada casinos. Objectively, Nevada casinos benefit by having the federal government wage a war on gambling in other jurisdictions. The real racketeering is the prosecution of Lovett, suppressing competition for casinos in other parts of the country.

Pursuant to Sheldon Adelson, statutes against online gambling have nothing to do with his own economic interests. Instead, online gambling exploits vulnerable people. To prevent that exploitation, people should travel to Las Vegas and visit one of his casinos. See: http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-adv-adelson-online-gambling-20140521-story.html#page=1

But then Adelson does say that he’s in favor of gambling. It’s just that online gambling he’s against. Then perhaps Adelson can use his political pull to help repeal anti-gambling statutes in Savannah-Chatham and then cover the legal defense of the former police chief. Or does he only support the police who enforce his racket?

Updated: September 4, 2017 — 1:03 pm

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