Radley Balko, a senior editor at Reason, testified before the House Financial Services Committee last week, on the issue of Internet gambling.
I believe that prohibition is stupid and intrusive, and I am sick to death of the Nanny Staters in government telling adults what they can and can't do in the privacy of their own homes, with their own money. I felt this way long before I even had a personal stake in this sort of thing, and even though most of the Libertarians I meet are really ultra-conservative Republicans who don't want to play taxes and want to have a lot of guns, it's one of the areas where I take a classic Libertarian position.
Mr. Balko eloquently makes points that everyone who cares about keeping government out of their house should commit to memory and communicate to their congresscritters:
The Unlawful Internet Gaming Act was passed under rather dubious circumstances. It passed the U.S. Senate on the last day of Congress, late at night, with no floor debate, after being attached to an unrelated port security bill.
My problems with how the bill passed, however, are beside the point. Let’s get down to the crux of this issue, Mr. Chairman: What Americans do in their own homes with their own money on their own time is none of the federal government’s business.
No one is hurt when two or more consenting adults sit down for a game of poker, be it online or in person. Why any of this should be of concern to the federal government is rather perplexing. I respect the fact that many Americans—and many members of Congress—may have moral objections to gambling, online or otherwise. To them, I’d say, simply, “don’t gamble, then.”
Yes, it's possible a parent could bet away their family's savings, or their child's education fund in an online poker game. They could also fritter that money away on eBay. Or on booze. Or fancy cars and exotic travel.
These are all personal decisions, of course. And if a free society means anything, it means we should have the freedom to make bad choices, in addition to good ones. The ban on Internet gambling punishes the millions of Americans who were wagering online responsibly due to anecdotal evidence of a few who may do so irresponsibly. It's an affront to personal responsibility, and symptomatic of a Nanny Statist government that treats its citizens like children.
I discovered Mr. Balko's comments at Ed Brayton's Dispatches from the Culture Wars, one of my favorite blogs on the 'tubes, where I said, "Yes, but stocks, fast cars, and eBay don't perk up the ears and open the contributing wallets of the Authoritarian Christian Right that the UIGEA was written to please.