Winston Smith, Check Your Messages

In the contest for the Unmitigated Chutzpah Award, labeling slots with the epithet of “tax on the poor” has to be a strong contender. Used by various politicians, including various state delegates and senators, the shameless comptroller Pierre Franchot, various religious busybodies, and the Washington Post.


First, it’s factually untrue. Allowing slot machines is not a “tax”, any more than allowing baseball games or fast-food franchises is a tax. A tax, by definition, is imposed by a governmental authority. No one is being compelled to play slots, so the “tax on the poor” label is just fraudulent.

Second, it’s factually untrue, because it is not the poor but largely the middle class who goes to racetracks or other locations to play the slot machines (as reported by Maryland’s Department of Labor, Licenses, and Regulation).

Third, it’s sneeringly condescending. The epithet implies that the poor are too stupid to know how to spend their money, and need to be guided by the wise politicians. It is condescending, and usually reflects a certain racism.

Fourth, it is maliciously deceitful. Those who are so concerned about the poor, like the Post, are also advocating the governor’s 20% increase in the sales tax – the most regressive tax on the poor possible – as well as his increased taxes on cars, rent, and other necessities. Clearly, these people don’t give a damn about the poor, but throw around this meaningless slogan. The uber-patrician Franchot is eager to shovel tax money to the owners of DC United, but that’s because he likes soccer.


Besides, not only do localities have numbers games, Vegas nights, and other kinds of gambling schemes, but the state itself provides plenty of venues for gambling, such as the lottery. Frankly, it’s much easier to go down to the corner liquor store and play the Maryland lottery, than to drive out to Western Maryland or the Eastern Shore just to get to a race track with slots.

Fifth, if you are truly concerned about the poor, then there is a simple solution: Remove the restrictions on slot machines, but don’t tax the proceeds!


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Explore posts in the same categories: Budget and Taxes, Civil Liberties, Regulation, The War on the Poor

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3 Comments on “Winston Smith, Check Your Messages”

  1. Freemarket Says:

    Pow! Right in the kisser.

    Speaking of Winston Smith, I haven’t read Nineteen Eighty-Four in years. It’s time to revisit that book…

  2. Zinzindor Says:

    Re-read _Nineteen Eighty-Four_? Why? Don’t you have access to a newspaper? :>

  3. Freemarket Says:

    Point taken!


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