I’m on the Council on Casinos. a group sponsored by the Institute for American Values. Our purpose is to fight the spread of gambling in America. See our report, Why Casinos Matter. As David Mills noted earlier, the Institute’s director, David Blankenhorn, has penned a report that focuses on New York, New York’s Promise.
To a great extent our elite leadership takes a libertarian stance, one that sees no harm in relaxing older, more paternalistic limits on vice. Legalizing marijuana are loosening liquor laws are examples, as is tolerance of pornography, crude language, and vulgar dress. Gambling follows this pattern.
What’s the harm? For the most part the upper levels of society have a disciplined approach to hedonism. They—we—don’t tend to overdo it. But the lower levels? They end treading water in a degraded public culture, often unable to keep their heads above the polluted water.
I’m not satisfied that I understand the elite abandonment of responsibility for sustaining decency. But it’s a fact, of that I’m sure. And not an inconsequential fact. At the same time as economic sucess is more and more remote for the bottom half of society, moral dignity is also less accessible.
I have a dark thought about all this: Those of us at the top don’t like competition. Thus we’re happy with the toxic culture we can avoid and we endorse legal measure to ensure its spread. And why not? It debilitates the competition from below.