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PORTSIDE  April 2012, Week 1

PORTSIDE April 2012, Week 1

Subject:

Turning America Into a Giant Casino

From:

Portside Moderator <[log in to unmask]>

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[log in to unmask]

Date:

Tue, 3 Apr 2012 22:39:35 -0400

Content-Type:

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text/plain (99 lines)

Turning America Into a Giant Casino

By Robert Reich, Robert Reich's Blog
rsn
April 03, 12

http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/279-82/10773-turning-america-into-a-giant-casino

Anyone who says you can get rich through gambling is a fool or
a knave. Multiply the size of the prize by your chance of
winning it and you'll always get a number far lower than what
you put into the pot. The only sure winners are the
organizers - casino owners, state lotteries, and con artists
of all kinds.

Organized gambling is a scam. And it particularly preys upon
people with lower incomes - who assume they can't make it big
any other way, who often find it hardest to assess the odds,
and whose families can least afford to lose the money.

Yet America is now opening the floodgates.

In December, the Department of Justice announced it was
reversing its position that all Internet gambling was
illegal. That decision is about to create a boom in online
gambling. Expect high-stakes poker to be available on every
work desk and mobile phone.

Meanwhile, states are increasingly dependent on revenues from
casinos, lotteries, and the "Mega Millions" game (in which 42
states pool their grand prize) to partly refill state
coffers.

Given who plays, this is one of the most regressive taxes in
the nation. In the most recent Mega Millions game - whose
winning tickets were drawn last week and whose jackpot rose
to $640 million - lottery ticket buyers shelled out some $1.5
billion, most of which went to state governments.

And then there's the "Jumpstart Our Business Startups" or
"JOBS" Act, which President Obama is expected to sign into
law Thursday. It allows so-called "crowd funding" by which
people whose net worth is less than $100,000 can gamble away
(invest) up to 5 percent of their annual incomes in any get-
rich-quick scam (start-up) that any huckster (entrepreneur)
may sell them.

Forget the usual investor disclosures or other protections.
In the interest of "streamlining," Congress has streamlined
the way to fraud. Although start-ups will have to market
themselves through third-party portals approved by the
Securities and Exchange Commission, this is like limiting
Bernie Madoff to making pitches over the radio. The SEC can
barely keep track of Wall Street let alone thousands of
Internet portals. Small wonder SEC Chair Mary Schapiro has
been one of most outspoken critics of bill.

The bill was sold to Congress as a way to promote jobs (note
the acronym) on the supposition that small start-ups create
huge numbers of them. Wrong. That assumption comes from
research by the Kauffman Foundation, which counted as a
"start-up job" every laid-off worker who morphed into an
independent contractor.

I'm all in favor of more entrepreneurship, and it's good to
give investors another way to participate in emerging
companies. But this bill doesn't do nearly enough to protect
the vulnerable.

America's capital market was already a giant casino. Why now
turn the rest of America into one?

[Robert Reich is Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at
the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in
three national administrations, most recently as secretary of
labor under President Bill Clinton. He has written thirteen
books, including "The Work of Nations," "Locked in the
Cabinet," "Supercapitalism" and his latest book, "AFTERSHOCK:
The Next Economy and America's Future." His 'Marketplace'
commentaries can be found on publicradio.com and iTunes.]

___________________________________________

Portside aims to provide material of interest to people
on the left that will help them to interpret the world
and to change it.

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