Monday, June 29, 2009

Putin stands up for the Russian people. Who will stand up for us?

An article in today's New York Times informs us (I didn't see any mention of it in the local papers) that the Russian government is closing every legal gambling establishment in the country.

One of the largest mass layoffs in recent Russian history is to occur on Wednesday, and the Kremlin itself is decreeing it, economic crisis or not.

The government is shutting down every last legal casino and slot-machine parlor across the land, under an antivice [sic] plan promoted by Vladimir V. Putin that just a few months ago was widely perceived as far-fetched. But the result will be hundreds of thousands of people thrown out of work.

If you read the entire article you may have been amazed as I was that the focus is almost entirely on the downside of decision -- the loss of jobs. There was little attempt at balance or explanation of the upside of this decision other than a mention of organized crime and a concession that:

The gambling industry here does not have the loftiest of reputations, and many Russians will not grieve for it.

This obvious deficiency and lack of fairness and balance in the reporting probably does not leave most readers here in Illinois and Iowa totally in the dark about what might be causing the Russian people to make this move. Unfortunately we are all too well aware of the kinds of problems legalized gambling causes -- lives ruined by gambling addiction, increases in other vices such as prostitution and loan-sharking, increases in the number of instances of embezzlement perpetrated by people who had been upstanding law-abiding citizens before the casinos came, the loss of more wholesome, locally-owned entertainment businesses unable to compete with the organized gambling giant corporations who send the profits far away.

The slant the article takes does give an indication how difficult it would be to reverse the trend toward more legalized gambling with incrementally decreasing restrictions occurring in this country. The very serious people in the news media would inform us that restricting gambling in this country would be unthinkable. We will just have to endure all the problems that gambling causes. Anyone who suggests otherwise is just not being serious.

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