Virtues and vices of government protection

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Here’s a quotation from an article in The Intercept about video games, that offer packages of goods for about a dollar each, but you do not know what each package contains:

“If loot boxes remind you of a slot machine or lottery ticket, you’re not alone. Just like traditional gamblers, players who acquire loot boxes pay money for an uncertain outcome. Unlike traditional gamblers, there is no strict government regulation to protect them.”

I’m not sure the author of this article, Zaid Jilani, realizes how odd that paragraph sounds to some ears. We have state sponsored gambling all over the country. In fact, state governments don’t sponsor lotteries – they run them. State lotteries are safe, of course, because the state always has good intentions. Simple prudence says we must control video games ‘for the children’. If grown-up gamblers need protection, children need it even more. Yet children place bets and engage in games of chance all the time. Think of ring toss and dozens of other carnival games, where you win a prize if you get lucky. Still, an organization called Stop Predatory Gambling wants to prevent Electronic Arts from selling Battlefront II, or anything that looks like an opportunity to place a wager.

You might think government efforts to regulate gambling are about as hypocritical as government gets, until you realize the state has its hand in almost every racket identified as dangerous – or beneficial – to one group or another: drugs, alcohol, firearms, prescription painkillers, prostitution, bribery, assassination, banks, stocks, mortgage loans, elections, domestic espionage, tax fraud, money laundering, shakedowns, asset forfeiture, health insurance and health care regulation, pension funds, protection schemes, gold plated military contracts, ineffective weapons systems, foreign aid to friendly criminals, and the favorite one of all: gargantuan wars that create rivers of money to further ‘democracy’.

Is that list long enough for you? Does that make you wonder whether you ought to worry about young adults who have ‘no strict government regulation to protect them’? God protect us from ‘strict government regulation’! If government would just go away, we would not need protection. Who will protect us from these people who prey on us, and use our money to do it? That’s why a paragraph about how government keeps traditional gamblers safe sounds odd. If a she-wolf shows up at your door with grandma’s kerchief tied around her ears, don’t let her in. If you do, she’ll invite you to dinner. You accept because she has good intentions. Then she’ll kill you and feed you to her pups. That’s control.


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VIDEO GAME “LOOT BOXES” ARE LIKE GAMBLING FOR KIDS — AND LAWMAKERS ARE CIRCLING