Feeding Mr. Ed

While it may be just a coincidence, it is certainly instructive to read about how they do things in Barack Obama’s home state of Illinois. And it wouldn’t surprise me one bit to see this sort of socialism take root nationally should B.O. make it all the way to the White House. Here’s the (stinking) deal…

Illinois’ redistribution of wealth could foreshadow life in an Obama administration

By Chuck Muth

While it may be just a coincidence, it is certainly instructive to read about how they do things in Barack Obama’s home state of Illinois. And it wouldn’t surprise me one bit to see this sort of socialism take root nationally should B.O. make it all the way to the White House. Here’s the (stinking) deal…

According to the Associated Press, the amount of money wagered at the state’s horse tracks dropped from $835 million a year to $482 million from 1992 to 2005. So to prop up this dying industry, the Illinois state legislature passed a law in 2006 requiring the state’s top four riverboat casino companies to take 3 percent of their revenues and give it to the ailing horse racing industry. Not all of the casino companies, mind you. Just the largest and most successful.

This is like forcing Burger King, but not Taco Bell, to give part of its profits to Tom’s Greasy Spoon down the street simply because more people choose to eat at BK than TB or TGS. It is redistribution of wealth in its rawest form. From each according to his ability; to each according to his needs. This is Karl Marx to the max.

And by the way, it bears pointing out that the riverboat casinos won’t be paying this tax. The casinos will merely pass this tax increase along to you and me in the form of higher prices. So in the end, it’s the private consumer who is really getting screwed here.

The casino companies challenged this rob-Peter-to-pay-Paul redistribution scheme in court, especially considering the fact that some casinos were hit with the horse tax and not others. Equal protection and all that. The good news is a judge agreed with the casinos last year and tossed the law out. The bad news is the judge’s ruling was appealed to the Supreme Court. The worse news is that the Supremes, in a supreme example of blood-boiling judicial absurdity, overturned the common-sense judge’s ruling.

So the four riverboat casinos must now cough up some $79 million and give 40 percent of it to the state’s five horse-racing tracks. The other 60 percent will go into “purses” to be awarded to the winning horses to “subsidize horse-breeding and training.”

Seriously. How can anyone, especially so-called learned judges, come to the conclusion that it’s OK to take money spent in riverboat casinos and give a portion of it to a struggling competitor to help feed Mr. Ed?

One can only imagine how President Obama would use this precedent on a national level. Why not charge Microsoft a 3 percent tax and redistribute the revenue to smaller software companies which most of the public chooses not to use? Why not charge General Motors a 3 percent tax and redistribute the revenue to mass transit services which few people use? Why not charge Bank of America a 3 percent tax and redistribute it to struggling local banks?

Or better yet, why not charge uber-liberal MoveOn.org a 3 percent tax and redistribute the revenue to less well-funded conservative activist groups? Yeah, that’s the ticket!

Chuck Muth is president of Citizen Outreach, a non-profit public policy advocacy organization in Washington, D.C. The views expressed are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Citizen Outreach. He may be reached at chuck@citizenoutreach.com.

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