Everything’s A Gamble

In this note I wish to explain how gambling is a very general aspect of
 life, and how the same risks behind “organized gambling” apply to our society
 as whole.
In so doing, I plan to illustrate just how serious decisionmaking is, and why it
 is therefore dangerous to hand over the reigns of power to any elite decision-makers
 in society.
Some say gambling an dpolitics are evil, but I think emphasizing the term “evil” ultimately
 misleads on the issues, be it gambling or anything else.
So I will attempt to use a case-study of sorts and logic rather than
 cheap moralistic rhetoric to show my point.
I wish to have a scientific mind, and science
does not deal in “opinions.”

Gambling is a hobby.
 It has hobbyists.
But arguably so does voting.
There are those who have voted Republican
or Democrat all their lives simply to support “their party.”
Some might even be likened to addicts; not necessarily to voting, but to politics,
 patriotism, and supporting certain candidates intended to make decisions on our behalf.
 I might think regular gambling is a pathetic hobby, but I’m not
going to judge it nearly as much as those who would gamble with other people’s lives —
 and this is in fact what political systems do.
The distinction I would make personally between individual and largescale gambling is clear:
 If people want to lose money individually and generally get little
 more out of it than a cheap thrill, then so
be it.
If it’s “evil,” it’s largely self-inflicted anyway.
Not so with governments, which systematically impose losses upon others.
Don’t get me wrong.
To some extent this may be part of the human condition.
One of the greatest impediments to man (sorry ladies, but I’m using this term)
is the fact that he is institutional by nature, yet he wishes a significant degree
 of freedom from institutions in general.
So concerns over institutional power are not only relegated to conspiracy literature
 and comic books.

Consider the Roman Polanski case, of which most of us are aware.
I agree the man did an awful thing:  “Geimer [his young victim] struggled
to break free but was unable to resist his advances
 after he gave her the powerful sedative Quaalude, which he
claimed would help ease her asthma….”
And I also agree that there is probably a double standard here:  “The
 fact that not only has he escaped a long prison
 term, but is now being defended by the rich and
powerful in Europe tells you all you need to know
 about elites: they think themselves above the law and any
 moral censure.”

(1.  “Roman Polanski arrest: champagne and drugs overwhelmed Samantha Geimer,” Matthew Moore, Telegraph, Sep 28, 2009) 

The case is a slam dunk, or so your average American gambler of social
 policy would argue.
Obviously, the offense was worse than Geimer’s not having a good time, right?
But the plot thickens.
Polanski is over 70 years old now (not too far from death anyway), and Geimer has
 actually forgiven him (which strikes me as a very significant fact).
So any punishment for Polanski is not even defended by the victim herself, and
 would actually be an expensive form of societal revenge.
Would putting him in prison and making him a burden on taxpayers actually help
 anyone at this point, especially when we already know what he was and
may still be capable of doing, to the point where people should know better than to trust
 him around underaged girls (assuming he would do such a thing again)?
On top of that, he knew very well that he was no longer welcome in America,
 which could be interpreted as a significant punishment in itself and
 presumably makes America safe from him.
And the sad fact is, any number of men with alcohol and a drug could do what Polanski did.
Does locking such people in a cell instantly remedy the problem?
Does justice come from the presence of a cage?
Hardly.
So my point isn’t to defend Polanski’s actions, but to illustrate how even
 the so-called “slam dunk” cases are often considerably more complex than they are
 made out to be and are not without their own costs and risks.
Everything’s a gamble.

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