Stupid Budget Tricks, or Why Our State Government Can't Afford to Become Addicted to Gambling and Alcohol


Self-serving? Impossible!
Wealth and income are not the same thing.

Which, given that our millionaires and billionaires invest their wealth overseas, some people might be wise to pay attention to.

Especially now that there's no income tax for millionaires.
Goldy = antiquated. Is this where the Stranger is heading? Anti fun? Anti profit? Weird. Lesser Seattle can suck it.
PS - Goldy, you can say it means Atlantic City all you want. The reality is that when we talk about great cities, we often mention London, New York, Portland, Austin, Vancouver BC. They all have liquor is strip clubs and seem to be doing ok with it.

All around Seattle - Shoreline, White Center, Tukila, Federal Way - there are card rooms that Seattle residents are spending money in but non of the millions in taxes generated there go to Seattle. Additionally, people are playing cards illegally all over Seattle, even at illegal private clubs. Let's make this legal and profit from it.

I know you want to control people to make the world just what you want it. I think people can make pretty good choices on their own. We need some regulations, but we can legalize a lot of things that old foggies like you want to ban, and do ok. Other great cities all over the world do it and they are able to use the tax revenue to fund other things like public transit, etc, to make their cities even better.

As for doing away with special interest tax breaks. I'm all for it and agree with you. But we need much more than $1.5 billion to fix our long term budget problems - so let's do both. And while we're at it let's have some serious drug policy reform which will also help fill that gap.
Meinert @3,

Wow. Mature comeback, Dave. For a guy who says he wants to have an adult conversation on the subject, you sure have a funny way of showing it.

And before you accuse me of not knowing what I'm talking about, nobody in WA state—and I mean nobody—has written more about gambling expansion and its potential impact than I have.

I'm not opposed to some loosening of our liquor laws, but your gambling proposal is simply bad for Washington from start to finish, and I'd be happy to debate you on it anytime, anywhere.
I would so wager on the outcome of that debate.
Goldy - Pennsylvania legalized some slots in 2005. This year they brought in $616 million in tax revenue from them. What has the negative impact in PA been?
Meinert @5,

First, you simply don't understand the way the tribal compacts work. You don't get revenue sharing without dramatic concessions to the tribes, and anything you give the commercial cardrooms/casinos you also have to give to the tribes.

Second, I'm not advocating that we ban alcohol or gambling, simply that we don't need to expand it, and certainly not as a budget trick, as that would put the state's interests at cross-purposes. And, if you ever bothered to read HA, you'd know that I've long advocated for legalizing marijuana and selling it through the state stores. And no, I don't smoke pot myself, just like I don't gamble. My position is purely utilitarian.

So again, if you want to debate gambling expansion on its merits, I'm game. Gaming is simply not the economic engine you claim it is.
Kind of seems like Atlantic City has been cherry-picked here to prove a very dubious point. I am from Connecticut and I believe the casinos there have provided a great deal of employment and state revenue.

Goldy seems like a kind of leftist that one normally only finds in Europe, that is the pro-authoritarian/anti-civil liberties leftist. Once again here giving us the WLCB/church lady line about the evils of vice and why we need self-appointed mommies to keep us from making bad decisions.
Goldy - I'll be over at Publicola in the comments thread where my original article was published. Come join in -…
Goldy, is this pure propaganda, or are you just this fucking stupid?

"The problem is, none of this new revenue comes problem-free. Double alcohol consumption and triple its availability, and you'll inevitably double or triple the very real economic, social and direct government costs of alcohol abuse and addiction. That's double the number of DUI's, double the underage drinking, double the incidence of alcohol related spousal abuse, double the broken homes, double the lost work hours and double the healthcare costs. You know, double the number of ruined lives."

The assertion you make--completely without evidence, because that would be inconvenient, since multiple other states with more availability have less problems--is that there is a direct linear relationship between availability and consumption and the negative effects of alcohol *abuse*. Which is further predicated on the assumption that all use is abuse.

Both of these assumptions are total and complete crap. And you're not stupid, so you have to know this, and are just pushing your preferred policies with blatant lies.
@12 actually, Madass, there is some scientific backing for what Goldy says.

But, that doesn't mean we shouldn't do it, just that we need to make sure we weigh both the goods and the bads of any such decision.

And then cave to the Republicants anyway. Like our hero Obama did.
God-damn, RTFA MAH.

Meinert claims we could double liquor tax revenue by doubling consumption. There's a pretty direct line between consumption and the negative effects of alcohol. It's Meinert's claim.
Meinert seems willing to back peddle (rightly) some of his initial proposals to make them more reasonable. While Goldy is towing the hard line that the evil liquors and gambling will make us all slaves.

Meinert 1, Goldy 0

Thank you Goldy. The notion that we can't afford basic healthcare and education without addiction exploitation is ludicrous.
Will, I'm not saying that problems won't increase. I'm saying the assertion of a linear relationship is bollocks, and that Goldy's not stupid enough for it to be anything but him pushing things he knows to be false. Same for the assumption that use=abuse.
Do you really want to use PA is an example?

The reason PA brought in such high tax revenues (They actually beat Nevada) is because they collect 55% in taxes, a rate that is unrealistic for casinos, or any business, in the long run. For example, in 2008-2009 one casino took in $216 million, but paid out $119 million in taxes, leaving the balance for overhead, payouts, and debt servicing.

How was the rate set? By the legislature. They picked an amount they needed to balance their budgets.

This isn't a tax that is passed onto the consumer. The customer don't have to pay $1.55 to place a $1.00 bet.

I believe when an entity is tax based on gross revenues it is called an income tax. Ironic isn't it.

PA isn't a very good example other than it was a huge windfall for the State budget. It will take some time to see it it will be sustainable over the long run.
Now I want a drink.

There's no tax on software in WA either.

Ever think of that?

If only there was some sort of middle ground between 1999 Atlantic City and 1919 Lynden, WA.

Atlantic City's problems were not caused by the casinos. In fact, the decline in that city was already well underway when the casinos were authorized -- that's WHY they were authorized, to put some life back in the place. They were only partly successful, which is not the same thing as "not successful at all" and definitely not the same thing as "caused the problem". If Atlantic City had not built casinos, it would almost certainly be completely boarded up today.

The 1950s are not coming back.

And Seattle is not going to become Atlantic City.

Some of us would like to see our state punish offenders, not everyone. Because alcohol causes problems in some people, I am being punished, even though it does not cause problems in me.

The "adult conversation" is described above -- later bar hours, but increased ticketing of disorderly street drunks. See how that works? Responsible people get to do what they want to do; irresponsible people get nailed for their irresponsibility.

On the other hand, I think this expansion of gambling is being driven by those card rooms, which are most definitely NOT earning millions; they're closing down left and right, unable to compete with slots. Nobody wants to play cards anymore.
Fnarf - card rooms around here make somewhere between $6 million to $10 million a year. During the recession some have seen a drop in revenue, like almost everything.

But agreed with your other comments above. Goldy seems to want to punish everyone. Maybe there's a different type of bar he'd rather see legalized.
@17 --

Never argue with WIS. He is allowed by SLOG to make us scientific evidence that means whatever he wants it to mean.

We all see your point and those of us paying attention get it. Goldy was using rhetorical flourish... he doesn't actually mean 2x increase in availability = 2x increase in harm.

Does his point still stand if you're not stuck on the linear relationship? I don't think it does, but I'm pro-alcohol in this case regardless of a reasonable increase in social costs.
@20 ever wonder why Ireland is bankrupt?

Cause they exempt Microsoft from taxes.
Oh God! Another post from this insufferable windbag.
@23 (source: Nature, read it during coffee break)

I don't think Goldy was stuck on the linear relationship. Most supply/demand is a curve, anyway.
six shooter @23,

Yes, I was using rhetorical flourish. But the larger point stands: if you increase availability and consumption of an addictive substance (and Meinert is explicitly calling for a doubling of consumption) you will increase abuse of the substance and the cost, societal and otherwise, related to that abuse.

As for gambling, which is an addictive behavior, there are federal studies showing a direct relationship between the incidence of problem gambling behavior and the geographic proximity to a casino. It's become a couple years since I read that study, so I'll have to dig it up.
Actually Will, Ireland is bankrupt because their corrupt government bowed to pressure from other countries and international bodies and agreed to guarantee their unsecured domestic banks's debts AFTER it was already clear to everyone that the banks were about to go under because of their outrageously risky investments.

Right now the situation for ordinary people in Iceland, where the people voted to reject taking on public debt to pay off the creditors of the country's unsecured overseas bank debt, is already improving while Ireland is getting worse by the day with no end in sight.

Nothing to do with Microsoft. Sure they coulda taxed them more or whatever, but that isn't the problem.
This is very different from the move to privatize liquor sales where some people, like me, predicted it would lead to an increase in consumption and additional societal problems.

Here the explicit objective is to double consumption of alcohol to meet the revenue goal. Are you seriously suggesting you can increase the consumption of people for whom drinking is not a problem to the level that doubles the state's consumption while avoiding serious increases in consumption by those for whom drinking will be a problem? The suggestion is irrational on its face.
@28 no, they'd have a budget surplus if they taxed poets and software designers.

But they don't.

@28 You doan know nuttin! No self respecting Irish poet would allow his or herself to make enough money to be taxed while they was still alive. Anyone who does is a fake ( or has already emigrated)!
"If only there was some sort of middle ground between 1999 Atlantic City and 1919 Lynden, WA."

It's Spokane, 2010.
I don't really think the poets are the problem.

Besides, they drink lots and the tax revenue for that helps pay for their liver dialysis.
Fnarf @21,

Wrong. If Atlantic City had not put in casinos, it would have started to come back a few years later, just like the rest of the Jersey Shore did—indeed, nearly all beach communities nationwide—as ocean front real estate took off in the eighties and beyond.

Think that beach front house in Ventnor you could steal for $140,000 in the late 1970's wouldn't still be worth several million dollars today? And you think Atlantic City wouldn't have started to come back to serve the incredible wealth nearby?

Now, when I take my daughter east in the summer, we go to the boardwalk just to the south in Ocean City, which is very much like Atlantic City was, only not quite so classy, but absolutely thriving and jammed. That could've been Atlantic City, if only folks had waited another half decade or so. Instead, the beaches are deserted, the boardwalk is fronted by smoked glass walls, and everything to the west of Atlantic Ave is as desperate and decayed as it ever was.

Let's go to Monmouth Park to bet the horses.
Ocean City is way better.

Plus, fewer nasties like Snookie.
We need more tax and surcharge options in this food fight:

marijuana, meth, crack, whores, guns, cage fighting, V-8's, loud music, spandex, bicycles, sugar, frying oil, plastic surgery, trans fat, ammo, rebel flags, talk radio, fancy wine, jug wine, yuppie beer, coffee, herbal tea, snow boards, flatulence, perversions, water parks, horses, hamburger, bratwurst, nuns, neck ties and Pez.

Or perhaps just income.