Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Is the Lifting of the Ban on Sports Betting a Teaching Moment for Libertarians?

KK emails:
Considering the popularity of gambling, do you think this will be a golden teaching opportunity for stuff like state's rights, federal government overreach, the effect of lobbying by big business on government, etc?  
This is actually the rare topic that the average person might actually have some understanding of (or at least interest in) because it directly affects a person's finances when they win/lose a bet.  So when, inevitably, there are too many hands reaching for a piece of the gambling pie (e.g. federal government, state government, sports leagues, betting parlours, taxes, fees, etc), people might actually be ready to be upset enough to start asking why all this regulation is needed.  And if people can be shown the light on this one topic, maybe it can extend to other topics as well?  Also, if people get a taste of increased freedom (however small), will it whet their appetite for more?
Robert Wenzel  response:

I am not a big fan of the focus on state's rights as a method to advance liberty. There are many state regulations that I am not a fan of.

Further, since I am in favor of the PPS, I am also not a big fan of the notion of rights. In my view, there are no natural rights, individual or for government entities.

 I would rather focus on promoting the idea of liberty rather than federal laws versus state laws. 

As far as business lobbying, in the case of sports betting, some big businesses might be in favor of legalization of sports betting. Atlantic City hotels are likely to benefit big time because of the lifting of the ban, for example. 

The best I think a libertarian can do after the Supreme Court decision is point out that the government is a busybody, sometimes slapping on new laws and at other times removing some. At present laws based on "vices" seem to be in the process of being removed, e.g. marijuana laws, gambling laws. On the other hand, laws based on economic ignorance, e.g. plastic bag laws, solar panel laws, are growing.

We can point out to non-libertarians in discussions that the "vice" laws that are being removed, as silly now, will likely, down the road, be the fate of new silly laws that defy basic economics.

And then we should tell them to read Defending the Undefendable by Walter Block, who has had it right all along.

-Robert Wenzel  

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