Governor plays a bad hand when gambling with our freedom

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I agree with the old German proverb: “There is no better gambling than not to gamble.”

I don’t go to casinos, where the only sure bet is that the odds are stacked against me.

I don’t gamble online, either. The odds of addiction and poverty are far greater than those of finding a pot of gold at the end of some Internet gambling site.

But those are personal choices that Gov. Steve Beshear wants to take away.

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Like an errant lover stealing away in the middle of the night to spend some time with his mistress, Beshear last month snuck around to find a judge who would help him seize 141 Internet gambling sites.

Last week, the Bluegrass Institute sponsored a summit in Frankfort to expose this political adultery. Still, Franklin Circuit Court Judge Thomas Wingate refused on Thursday to throw out this frivolous lawsuit.

The judge’s actions likely could open the door for money-hungry politicians to trample on individual liberties in order to satisfy their spending addictions and reduce competition for in-state gambling dollars.

All Kentuckians, gamblers and non-gamblers alike, should take issue with the actions of the Beshear administration and its accomplice in the judiciary for several reasons:

  • Freedom is threatened.

Derek Hunter of the Media Freedom Project stated that the Internet represents “the last, best example of a truly free market left in this country.”

Once the government starts down this path, where will it end?

We must resist the temptation to use the force of government to impose our moral will on others.

I acknowledge there must be limits, even on the Web. Child pornography, for example, should be banned and its creators thrown in jail or worse. This despicable, harmful practice inhibits the choices of others.

However, we better not gamble our freedom away by allowing the government to choose what Web sites we access – even for activities some find objectionable but that don’t harm others. If we allow this, it won’t be long before it will be hard to differentiate our capital from Beijing.

  • Due process and public input is missing.

Using the Legislature to achieve his goal lacks appeal for Beshear since he failed to get the 2008 version to approve his top campaign issue: putting expanded-casino gambling on the ballot.

Yet, the governor should at least be forced to seduce the people’s representatives before taxing, seizing, regulating or doing anything else aimed at eroding our Internet freedoms. Instead, he wants to use the courts. And the courts appear unwilling to act as a check-and-balance on the governor’s power.

I believe enough Kentuckians understand the threat posed by intrusive politicians with the force of government at their beck and call is much greater than that of a poker addict spending his Saturday afternoons parked in front of his Mac.

  • Hypocrisy is rampant.

Beshear calls these Web sites “leeches on our communities.” But it wasn’t moral turpitude that caused our casino-promoting governor to say that. Instead, these sites threaten in-state gambling interests.

That’s why I disagree with the Poker Players Alliance. Its Kentucky director, Rich Muny, said that his association – with 16,000 members in Kentucky alone – would prefer the state regulate and tax online poker instead of deeming it illegal.

Of course, many companies would opt for that policy in order to know where the safe zones exist for setting up shop free from government hassle.

With that approach, however, the Berlin Wall would never have fallen. Those bound behind that wall would have said, “We’re satisfied because at least we know where the barbed-wire fence, guard towers and land mines are.”

When it comes to personal freedoms, this is a time to hold ‘em, not fold ‘em.
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