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Sports betting is worse than Oxycontin The suckers are a lost generation

Prohibition may be the only answer (Credit: Michael Macor/Getty)

Prohibition may be the only answer (Credit: Michael Macor/Getty)


May 9, 2023   6 mins

In the small hours of the morning, while most people are asleep, my cousin bets on Indian Premier League cricket. In the afternoon, he bets on the Rugby League. His evenings are consumed with the popular American sports — basketball, baseball, hockey — and in the middle of the night, he mixes and matches live bets on Japanese and Korean baseball games. To fund all of this, he drives the Uber pool, trades and mines cryptocurrency, and engages in “cash transactions” — presumably drug dealing, though I don’t ask and he doesn’t tell.

America’s laws on sports betting have been getting increasingly permissive since 2018, when the Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992. My cousin, who is in his early thirties, lives in Colorado, where it was legalised in 2019. In his twenties, he tried college, but never finished. Nor did he show a real interest in anything — including serious romance and traditional employment — except DraftKings, which has been his preferred online game since 2014. Back then, it offered nothing but virtual prizes for success in virtual sports; but as states have legalised sports betting, the company, and others like it, have launched highly lucrative gambling apps.

A hamster-wheel life going nowhere is profoundly boring. Sports betting gave my cousin meaning: suddenly every game, every event — even sports he didn’t care about — mattered. It wasn’t only the outcomes he cared about; he placed bets on various scenarios within the games. He was, and is, hooked. There are hundreds of thousands of men like him: the target audience of sports betting apps.

As of April 2023, 33 states have legal, operational sports betting, and a host of companies — including DraftKings and FanDuel — have expanded to meet consumer demand. Some libertarian-leaning think tanks, including the Cato Institute, argue that betting offers a much-needed source of revenue for financially struggling states. The figures have been staggering — since the Supreme Court’s 2018 ruling, over $20 billion has been spent on sports betting in the United States, with more than $3 billion in state and federal taxes being paid — and they look set to increase. Sportsbook revenue in the US reached a record $7.5 billion in 2022, up 75% from the 2021 total of $4.29 billion.

Unchecked gambling can have devastating consequences for both individuals and communities — consequences that were well-known even before sports betting was available at one’s literal fingertips, at any hour of the day or night. They include financial ruin, relationship strain and increased crime — including organised crime, for which legal betting operations serve as a convenient front for money laundering. Unsurprisingly, The Free Press recently labelled sports betting the “new Oxycontin”.

The comparison isn’t baseless, but the key difference is that Oxycontin ultimately “sells itself”. When people become physically and psychologically dependent on the highly addictive drug, no additional marketing is needed. Chronic gambling, by contrast, is a behavioural addiction, where individuals crave a thrill — meaning that the product has to be constantly refreshed. The apps track user behaviour, which is then minutely analysed by employees looking for ways to keep people hooked.

In her 2012 book Addiction by Design, anthropologist Natasha Dow Schüll writes that gamblers find themselves adjusting their behaviour based on the features and giveaways provided by casinos, such as in-play betting, cash-out options, or bonus plays. In the decade since, the gambling scene has evolved — from mechanical slots in a handful of states to video slots in nearly all of them, and finally to sports betting on almost every smartphone in the US. The relationship between sports bettors and the growing industry that services them is characterised by a constant interplay, where bettors seek to maintain the ideal balance of dopamine hits, spend, and control, while the industry releases an endless stream of innovations and promotions to draw them deeper into their apps. They dangle special offers to keep time-on-app as high as possible, while draining bankrolls over time — hence the money thrown at new users to convince them to join the service: no one wants to stick around if they lose their wad all at once.

The “zone”, as my cousin describes it, is a state where bettors feel fully absorbed, achieving a balance between risk and enjoyment in which they are perfectly synchronised with the app. He, and enthusiasts like him, have noted that their betting experiences keep becoming “smoother” and more immersive. While data analysts behind the scenes make sophisticated predictions of potential value, this “zone” state keeps bettors anchored in the immediate excitement of the wager, which prevents them from making informed long-term decisions.

Predictably, the rate of pathological gambling in the US seems to be increasing. There was a 45% rise in calls, texts, and messages to the National Problem Gambling Helpline between 2021 and 2022. In New Jersey alone, the state’s Council on Compulsive Gambling’s help hotline has experienced a 200% jump over the past four years. We are staring into a potential epidemic with serious dangers: a report from the UK Gambling Commission revealed that problem gamblers are 12 times more likely to suffer from depression, and the suicide rate among these individuals is considerably higher than among the general population. The argument for ubiquitous, 24/7 sports betting often skates over these facts — as well as the financial costs of this supposedly revenue-boosting exercise. A recent study found that the annual social cost of gambling addiction in the United States is now around $7 billion.

This is partly because gambling addiction is hard to treat. OxyContin withdrawal can often be countered through medication-assisted therapies, while treatment for chronic gambling is slower. It primarily focuses on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and self-help groups, the aim being to address the underlying thought processes that contribute to the addiction — the very same thought processes that the marketing engines of betting companies are working tirelessly to exploit.

At the moment, the authorities don’t seem to be taking the dangers of sports betting seriously. The situation does bear a concerning resemblance to the beginning of the opioid crisis, where “deaths of despair” — fatalities related to drug overdose, alcohol, and suicide — were initially overlooked. For years, the addictive potential of OxyContin was ignored, leading to a massive public health crisis. Today, public service messages about “problem gambling” seem to be little more than lip service; state-mandated legal disclaimers are widely disregarded; and policy seems to be moving towards increasing permissiveness.

No one is talking about the best solution to this problem. Prohibition, with exceptions for legacy gambling states such as New Jersey and Nevada, could help reduce overall harm, even if it lowers overall state and federal tax revenues. This policy would aim to reduce the socially unproductive activities that tear apart lives, families, and savings; the focus would shift from profit to public health. Some compulsive individuals would continue to engage in illegal sports betting with seedy underworld bookies, of course, but that wouldn’t make the policy redundant. The era of alcohol Prohibition in the Twenties is often portrayed as a failure, because liquor was still available if you knew where to get it. But research has shown that alcohol consumption decreased significantly during this period, leading to a reduction in alcohol-related deaths and other social problems.

When I put the question of prohibition to my cousin, he shrugged. “It’s whatever,” he said, insisting that this is “just my life right now”. He claimed he would find other ways to “pass the time”, which hints at a deeper, perhaps policy-resistant malaise. Paul Goodman observed six decades ago in Growing Up Absurd that his generation had failed to encourage their kids to pursue a form of “leisure that is not a dismaying waste of a hundred million adults”. Instead, his peers had become television-addicted cogs in an immense system: apathetic and overworked drones unable to make life in America bearable for those coming of age in it. Today, the situation is starker: an ever-expanding class of perpetually online, underemployed defeatists and opted-out NEETs find themselves unable to conceptualise paying off student loans or buying homes. Indeed, there is a specific demographic that seems to be more attracted to sports betting: my cousin’s.

In this absurd world, to repurpose the analysis of sociologist Max Weber, value-extracting tools like sports-betting apps exemplify forces of calculability and predictability — every game has a betting line, after all — while simultaneously enchanting gamblers with their slightly mysterious nature. Perhaps the underdog will pull through; perhaps my luck, so horrible in real life, is due to change. The suckers whose dollars fill the corporate coffers seem like a lost generation.

What my cousin, and others like him, yearn for is a life of both purpose and enchantment. He desires experiences to rival his grandfather’s submarining exploits in World War II. But societal shifts and technological advancements have created a landscape where opportunities for meaningful adventure, particularly for young men, often seem elusive. In the face of this reality, many, like my cousin, turn to the world of gambling as a means of filling the void. They take their chances repeatedly, hoping that, against the odds, they will find the sense of fulfilment they so desperately seek.


Oliver Bateman is a historian and journalist based in Pittsburgh. He blogs, vlogs, and podcasts at his Substack, Oliver Bateman Does the Work

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Allison Barrows
AB
Allison Barrows
11 months ago

When a society spends decades telling young men they’re a problem, they’re going to be the problem.

Allison Barrows
AB
Allison Barrows
11 months ago

When a society spends decades telling young men they’re a problem, they’re going to be the problem.

steven ford
SF
steven ford
11 months ago

Here in Australia sports betting is out of control. Sporting events shown on television are riddled with sports betting advertisements.

Caradog Wiliams
CW
Caradog Wiliams
11 months ago
Reply to  steven ford

Same in UK.

Matt Maas
Matt Maas
11 months ago
Reply to  steven ford

As a baseball fan living in the US, I cannot explain how jarring it is to see betting lines during a game. Some broadcasters (Apple TV being one) have even begun to update betting lives with every pitch during an at bat. It’s insane.

Chris Milburn
CM
Chris Milburn
11 months ago
Reply to  steven ford

Same in Canada. Hockey playoffs are infested with betting ads.

Caradog Wiliams
CW
Caradog Wiliams
11 months ago
Reply to  steven ford

Same in UK.

Matt Maas
Matt Maas
11 months ago
Reply to  steven ford

As a baseball fan living in the US, I cannot explain how jarring it is to see betting lines during a game. Some broadcasters (Apple TV being one) have even begun to update betting lives with every pitch during an at bat. It’s insane.

Chris Milburn
CM
Chris Milburn
11 months ago
Reply to  steven ford

Same in Canada. Hockey playoffs are infested with betting ads.

steven ford
SF
steven ford
11 months ago

Here in Australia sports betting is out of control. Sporting events shown on television are riddled with sports betting advertisements.

Caradog Wiliams
CW
Caradog Wiliams
11 months ago

I remember about 5 years ago, when we used money to buy things, standing in a line waiting to pay. The woman in front of me was about 30, badly dressed, with three kids who were running around screaming. I remember thing that she was looking very poor. When she came to the counter she bought £40 worth of scratch cards.
There seems to be a problem today. When people feel bad, depressed, are having a bad day, they don’t do as I was taught – go for a walk, or dig the garden or clean the house or DO something active to make the blues go away. Instead, they make bets or take drugs or even visit a psychiatrist, if the NHS provides such a thing.
Betting is common because it is easy. It takes no effort. It is a mental problem. But the answer doesn’t seem to be to do something active to make the blues go away. The answer is that the government should do something. Give us a break!
(As an aside, I regularly go running on a path through the woods. At the end of the path is a red box for your bag of dogsh*t. This box broke last week and was taken away for two days to repair. After two days there was a large pile of black bags where the box used to be. Clearly, the council was responsible for this pile of sh*tty bags.)

Fred Bloggs
FB
Fred Bloggs
11 months ago

Just an observation. If that woman buys £40 of lottery scratch cards every week she can expect a net loss of £20 each week. If she’d fed £40 into slot machines she could expect to lose about £4. She loses either way but the government backed lottery is the most stupid way to gamble. On the other hand there’s premium bonds.

Fred Bloggs
FB
Fred Bloggs
11 months ago

Just an observation. If that woman buys £40 of lottery scratch cards every week she can expect a net loss of £20 each week. If she’d fed £40 into slot machines she could expect to lose about £4. She loses either way but the government backed lottery is the most stupid way to gamble. On the other hand there’s premium bonds.

Caradog Wiliams
CW
Caradog Wiliams
11 months ago

I remember about 5 years ago, when we used money to buy things, standing in a line waiting to pay. The woman in front of me was about 30, badly dressed, with three kids who were running around screaming. I remember thing that she was looking very poor. When she came to the counter she bought £40 worth of scratch cards.
There seems to be a problem today. When people feel bad, depressed, are having a bad day, they don’t do as I was taught – go for a walk, or dig the garden or clean the house or DO something active to make the blues go away. Instead, they make bets or take drugs or even visit a psychiatrist, if the NHS provides such a thing.
Betting is common because it is easy. It takes no effort. It is a mental problem. But the answer doesn’t seem to be to do something active to make the blues go away. The answer is that the government should do something. Give us a break!
(As an aside, I regularly go running on a path through the woods. At the end of the path is a red box for your bag of dogsh*t. This box broke last week and was taken away for two days to repair. After two days there was a large pile of black bags where the box used to be. Clearly, the council was responsible for this pile of sh*tty bags.)

Martin Smith
MS
Martin Smith
11 months ago

Back in the 1970s I managed a betting shop in London. It was sparce seedy place by design. Recognising that betting on horses and dogs away from the track was impossible to ban it was nevertheless discouraged; no window displays, no toilets, no tea or coffee, no TV advertising, no TVs in the shops. Of course much reckless gambling still obtained but the changes wrought in the 1990s and carried on to this day have only served to normalise what was for many people little more than a harmless flutter and turn it into yet another self-destructive ‘lifestyle’.

Last edited 11 months ago by Martin Smith
Antonino Ioviero
AI
Antonino Ioviero
11 months ago
Reply to  Martin Smith

No toilets?

Not set in the 1970’s, but I distinctly remember the ‘Worst Toilet in Scotland’ scene in Trainspotting being in a bookmakers.

Martin Smith
MS
Martin Smith
11 months ago

None. The idea was that punters should enter the shop, place a bet and leave with nothing to encourage lingering. Perhaps the filthy improvised latrine arrangements made in various locations, some of them Scottish, testify to this.

Martin Smith
MS
Martin Smith
11 months ago

None. The idea was that punters should enter the shop, place a bet and leave with nothing to encourage lingering. Perhaps the filthy improvised latrine arrangements made in various locations, some of them Scottish, testify to this.

Antonino Ioviero
AI
Antonino Ioviero
11 months ago
Reply to  Martin Smith

No toilets?

Not set in the 1970’s, but I distinctly remember the ‘Worst Toilet in Scotland’ scene in Trainspotting being in a bookmakers.

Martin Smith
MS
Martin Smith
11 months ago

Back in the 1970s I managed a betting shop in London. It was sparce seedy place by design. Recognising that betting on horses and dogs away from the track was impossible to ban it was nevertheless discouraged; no window displays, no toilets, no tea or coffee, no TV advertising, no TVs in the shops. Of course much reckless gambling still obtained but the changes wrought in the 1990s and carried on to this day have only served to normalise what was for many people little more than a harmless flutter and turn it into yet another self-destructive ‘lifestyle’.

Last edited 11 months ago by Martin Smith
JOHN KANEFSKY
JK
JOHN KANEFSKY
11 months ago

I admit I don’t understand betting. I’ve never made a bet for money in my life, too much of a realist and statistician.
And I’ve never read a good explanation why some gamblers seem to know they will almost certainly lose all their money but continue anyway. The read-across to drug addiction can only be a partial explanation, surely?

Nicky Samengo-Turner
NS
Nicky Samengo-Turner
11 months ago
Reply to  JOHN KANEFSKY

Do you actually know anything about horse racing? form, breeding, going, handicap, ratings, trainers, jockeys?… and what about capital markets, derivatives, insurance, reinsurance, equity and bond and commodity markets? they are all one side betting against another.

Richard Craven
RC
Richard Craven
11 months ago
Reply to  JOHN KANEFSKY

They really enjoyed it the first two or three times they did it, and have spent their subsequent lives trying to recapture that initial euphoria.
Incidentally, I’m not speaking as an expert. I’ve probably made half a dozen bets in my life.

Last edited 11 months ago by Richard Craven
Nicky Samengo-Turner
NS
Nicky Samengo-Turner
11 months ago
Reply to  JOHN KANEFSKY

Do you actually know anything about horse racing? form, breeding, going, handicap, ratings, trainers, jockeys?… and what about capital markets, derivatives, insurance, reinsurance, equity and bond and commodity markets? they are all one side betting against another.

Richard Craven
RC
Richard Craven
11 months ago
Reply to  JOHN KANEFSKY

They really enjoyed it the first two or three times they did it, and have spent their subsequent lives trying to recapture that initial euphoria.
Incidentally, I’m not speaking as an expert. I’ve probably made half a dozen bets in my life.

Last edited 11 months ago by Richard Craven
JOHN KANEFSKY
JK
JOHN KANEFSKY
11 months ago

I admit I don’t understand betting. I’ve never made a bet for money in my life, too much of a realist and statistician.
And I’ve never read a good explanation why some gamblers seem to know they will almost certainly lose all their money but continue anyway. The read-across to drug addiction can only be a partial explanation, surely?

John Dellingby
JD
John Dellingby
11 months ago

I remember when I was younger and somewhat more idealistic (and a libertarian to boot), I used to argue that companies should be able to advertise betting odds during sporting events or in general on TV and elsewhere. Now though, I am very much in favour of banning said adverts outright and not allowing gambling companies to sponsor sporting events, teams etc. While we might compare this to the smoking ban and that nobody is physically harmed (at least directly) as a result of gambling, it can devastate lives, leave people and families destitute and it can even lead to people going to prison.
A serious clampdown is long overdue here.

John Dellingby
John Dellingby
11 months ago

I remember when I was younger and somewhat more idealistic (and a libertarian to boot), I used to argue that companies should be able to advertise betting odds during sporting events or in general on TV and elsewhere. Now though, I am very much in favour of banning said adverts outright and not allowing gambling companies to sponsor sporting events, teams etc. While we might compare this to the smoking ban and that nobody is physically harmed (at least directly) as a result of gambling, it can devastate lives, leave people and families destitute and it can even lead to people going to prison.
A serious clampdown is long overdue here.

SIMON WOLF
SW
SIMON WOLF
11 months ago

This article is peddling the usual false myths about sports gambling.In the UK the amount of adults who have a gambling problem is less than 2% and that 2 % is mostly in 1 demographic – males inbetween 25 – 35 years old.Like many other addictions that is because they find life more bearable with their addiction than without but in the case of gambling it is because gambling offers the 1 legal way they have of becoming rich. For a male risking ones money to give oneself a shot of being rich is not necessarily a stupid decision.

SIMON WOLF
SW
SIMON WOLF
11 months ago

This article is peddling the usual false myths about sports gambling.In the UK the amount of adults who have a gambling problem is less than 2% and that 2 % is mostly in 1 demographic – males inbetween 25 – 35 years old.Like many other addictions that is because they find life more bearable with their addiction than without but in the case of gambling it is because gambling offers the 1 legal way they have of becoming rich. For a male risking ones money to give oneself a shot of being rich is not necessarily a stupid decision.

Chris Milburn
CM
Chris Milburn
11 months ago

In Canada, they just changed the laws. Now watching hockey (my preferred turn-your-brain-off activity) means a constant barrage of online sports betting commercials, interspersed with a rare “Bet Responsibly!” message from the government.
My mom grew up in a conservative small town in Nova Scotia. She talks about how even a church raffle (that some of the more progressive and scandalous! churches allowed) resulted in quiet tut-tutting by much of the community.
I swing libertarian, but as de Tocqueville and others have pointed out, freedom only works out well in a society with a strong moral foundation.
The heart of the problem with the betting craze is wanting something for nothing – thinking that we can be fulfilled and happy just by getting a windfall. Our materialistic age pushes us away from service and meaningful employment and towards looking for the big win. Data on social outcomes of lottery winners shows this is a fool’s errand.
Perhaps it’s my Grandma’s Presbyterian blood that flows in my veins, but I see gambling as a moral failing, and I see the massive increase in gambling as a sign of the vacuous and spiritually-bereft society we have created.

Chris Milburn
Chris Milburn
11 months ago

In Canada, they just changed the laws. Now watching hockey (my preferred turn-your-brain-off activity) means a constant barrage of online sports betting commercials, interspersed with a rare “Bet Responsibly!” message from the government.
My mom grew up in a conservative small town in Nova Scotia. She talks about how even a church raffle (that some of the more progressive and scandalous! churches allowed) resulted in quiet tut-tutting by much of the community.
I swing libertarian, but as de Tocqueville and others have pointed out, freedom only works out well in a society with a strong moral foundation.
The heart of the problem with the betting craze is wanting something for nothing – thinking that we can be fulfilled and happy just by getting a windfall. Our materialistic age pushes us away from service and meaningful employment and towards looking for the big win. Data on social outcomes of lottery winners shows this is a fool’s errand.
Perhaps it’s my Grandma’s Presbyterian blood that flows in my veins, but I see gambling as a moral failing, and I see the massive increase in gambling as a sign of the vacuous and spiritually-bereft society we have created.

Brian Villanueva
Brian Villanueva
11 months ago

Imagine a society that intentionally built bars that gave away free samples right next to rehab halfway houses. That’s what we’re doing here with both gambling and pornography. We’re giving people who are addicted to a behavior precisely the tools (smartphones) they need to engage in the very behavior their trying to beat. 24×7 they face constant temptation. A sane society doesn’t do this to its citizens. It’s morally wrong.
A sane society is willing to use its collective power to help those members who are suffering, sometimes even requiring others to sacrifice some of their “rights” in order to achieve that goal. The Marine motto “leave no man behind” applies here too.
I’ve developed Internet applications years ago. We have the technological ability to eliminate pornography and gambling websites, and to eliminate kids from addictive social media. We lack the will. The problem isn’t technical, it’s political.

Brian Villanueva
Brian Villanueva
11 months ago

Imagine a society that intentionally built bars that gave away free samples right next to rehab halfway houses. That’s what we’re doing here with both gambling and pornography. We’re giving people who are addicted to a behavior precisely the tools (smartphones) they need to engage in the very behavior their trying to beat. 24×7 they face constant temptation. A sane society doesn’t do this to its citizens. It’s morally wrong.
A sane society is willing to use its collective power to help those members who are suffering, sometimes even requiring others to sacrifice some of their “rights” in order to achieve that goal. The Marine motto “leave no man behind” applies here too.
I’ve developed Internet applications years ago. We have the technological ability to eliminate pornography and gambling websites, and to eliminate kids from addictive social media. We lack the will. The problem isn’t technical, it’s political.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
11 months ago

Without betting there would be no horse racing… but having said that after I first rode out racehorses on the gallops, and then took them to the races, and saddled them there, I rarely ever bet on them!

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
11 months ago

Without betting there would be no horse racing… but having said that after I first rode out racehorses on the gallops, and then took them to the races, and saddled them there, I rarely ever bet on them!

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
11 months ago

Hogarth’s gin alley, dead drunk for 2.5 pennies.
hogarths gin alley – Bing images
Gambling and drinking were recognised for making and keeping people poor, so they were villfied by various Christian Groups.
The article raises the issue that many men need physical and mental challenges to make life meaningful.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
11 months ago

Hogarth’s gin alley, dead drunk for 2.5 pennies.
hogarths gin alley – Bing images
Gambling and drinking were recognised for making and keeping people poor, so they were villfied by various Christian Groups.
The article raises the issue that many men need physical and mental challenges to make life meaningful.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
11 months ago

I’ve had a tip for Master Bateman, running in the Woke Nanny State Stakes…..

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
11 months ago

Oh really? I heard he had to be withdrawn at Lingfield
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S4HNahRoDz8

Richard Craven
RC
Richard Craven
11 months ago

Oh really? I heard he had to be withdrawn at Lingfield
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S4HNahRoDz8

Nicky Samengo-Turner
NS
Nicky Samengo-Turner
11 months ago

I’ve had a tip for Master Bateman, running in the Woke Nanny State Stakes…..

William Shaw
WS
William Shaw
11 months ago

People should be free to spend their lives any way they please.
And individuals have no duty to society.
It’s not for the government to regulate the people they serve.

Last edited 11 months ago by William Shaw
Peter B
Peter B
11 months ago
Reply to  William Shaw

I cannot agree.
Of course individuals have some responsibility to society, just as they have some relationship with and sense of responsibility to their local community. Imagine if the population of Ukraine were as you describe – they would be quite unable to defend themselves.
In short, there can be no rights or any sort of civilised society without also some responsibilities.
What has happended here is that governments and sports have been captured by the gambling industry. Just check how many premier league football teams are sponsored by sports betting companies. Or remember those halcyon days of New Labour telling us how city centre casinos would “revitalise” the city centres (as if there weren’t plenty of other ways to do so).
I have no doubt that the article here is correct – that gambling is both addictive and socially destructive, that it imposes costs not only on individuals, but also on families and society who didn’t get any choice in the matter. Again, as the article shows, gambling debts may well increase criminality.
It is therefore a responsibility of government to exert some control. But the idea that prohibition is the answer seems absurd. Especially from an American.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
11 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

Without gambling in the gilts markets there would be NO government funding… or pensions or life insurance!!!!

Charles Hedges
CH
Charles Hedges
11 months ago

Britain managed to do quite well pre WW1 with far less government spending. Shakespeare, Newton, Agricultural and Industrial Revolutions, Darwin, science in general took place without government funding. It was said the only evidence of the government pre WW1 was the postman and India was run by a 1000 civil servants whereas there can be 6,000 employed by one London borough council.
Saving for retirement started in the 1660s.
Has borrowing more money by governments improved their quality of judgement? Perhaps necessity is the mother of invention and extra cash is nothing more than the spare tyre around the waist of government.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
11 months ago

Britain managed to do quite well pre WW1 with far less government spending. Shakespeare, Newton, Agricultural and Industrial Revolutions, Darwin, science in general took place without government funding. It was said the only evidence of the government pre WW1 was the postman and India was run by a 1000 civil servants whereas there can be 6,000 employed by one London borough council.
Saving for retirement started in the 1660s.
Has borrowing more money by governments improved their quality of judgement? Perhaps necessity is the mother of invention and extra cash is nothing more than the spare tyre around the waist of government.

William Shaw
WS
William Shaw
11 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

You think Ukraine provides a good example?
The men in that country are fighting and dying because of their “responsibility to society.” What poor brave misguided fools.
Those “pale, stale and male toxic misogynists” who feminists say are obsolete are on the front lines risking their lives when they could do what many of the women have done and simply leave the country to seek a safer and better life elsewhere.
In many ways the feminists are correct. Those men are outdated: outdated beliefs, outdated sense of responsibility for a society that couldn’t care less about them, outdated sense of chivalry. Ironically, by being so brave and responsible they’re helping achieve one of the stated aims of feminism; reducing the male population. The future is female indeed.

Last edited 11 months ago by William Shaw
Nicky Samengo-Turner
NS
Nicky Samengo-Turner
11 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

Without gambling in the gilts markets there would be NO government funding… or pensions or life insurance!!!!

William Shaw
WS
William Shaw
11 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

You think Ukraine provides a good example?
The men in that country are fighting and dying because of their “responsibility to society.” What poor brave misguided fools.
Those “pale, stale and male toxic misogynists” who feminists say are obsolete are on the front lines risking their lives when they could do what many of the women have done and simply leave the country to seek a safer and better life elsewhere.
In many ways the feminists are correct. Those men are outdated: outdated beliefs, outdated sense of responsibility for a society that couldn’t care less about them, outdated sense of chivalry. Ironically, by being so brave and responsible they’re helping achieve one of the stated aims of feminism; reducing the male population. The future is female indeed.

Last edited 11 months ago by William Shaw
Alan Tonkyn
AT
Alan Tonkyn
11 months ago
Reply to  William Shaw

Your final sentence would be fine, were it not for the fact that people who suffer from the various problems created by gambling and other self-destructive activities (eg drug-taking; over-indulgence in alcohol, casual/unsafe sex etc) also expect the government (i.e. the tax-payers) to rescue them from the results of their behaviour. And, as Peter B says in his reply to your post, a civilised society depends on its citizens feeling a sense of duty towards their fellow-men and -women. We cannot claim rights if we do not also accept our responsibilities.

William Shaw
WS
William Shaw
11 months ago
Reply to  Alan Tonkyn

People may want the government to rescue them from the results of their behaviour, it doesn’t mean the government is required to do so.
People (men and women) who engage in self-destructive behaviour can be left to face the consequences.
As for “feeling a sense of duty towards their fellow men and women” that age has passed, at least as far as men are concerned. Women have been telling men to shut up and go away for decades. Don’t expect the next generation of men to have a sense of duty to a society that tells them they are toxic. Young men are increasingly disengaging from society, that’s only going to increase in the future.

Charles Hedges
CH
Charles Hedges
11 months ago
Reply to  Alan Tonkyn

There is a saying at sea ” One hand for yourself and one for the ship “.People want the responsibility for their success but not their failure. Society can only exist where there are emotionally mature skilled responsible and courageous people who first ensure they are competent to undertake the work and defend themselves, their families and then their neighbours. Only when a farmer produces excess food can the craftsmen be fed
A former Archbishop of York said ” The desire to be spoon fed, have our problems solved by others, be given short snappy answers has sunk deep into our culture “.The belief in ” Self Help ” has withered.
Civilisation occurs because people persevere over decades in undertaking dangerous dirty skilled work. Basically excavating ditches to drain marsh and irrigate land to dry for crops and then plant trees to shade the more delicate crops.
What right does someone have to the water if they have no desire to undertake the work to supply it?

William Shaw
William Shaw
11 months ago
Reply to  Alan Tonkyn

People may want the government to rescue them from the results of their behaviour, it doesn’t mean the government is required to do so.
People (men and women) who engage in self-destructive behaviour can be left to face the consequences.
As for “feeling a sense of duty towards their fellow men and women” that age has passed, at least as far as men are concerned. Women have been telling men to shut up and go away for decades. Don’t expect the next generation of men to have a sense of duty to a society that tells them they are toxic. Young men are increasingly disengaging from society, that’s only going to increase in the future.

Charles Hedges
CH
Charles Hedges
11 months ago
Reply to  Alan Tonkyn

There is a saying at sea ” One hand for yourself and one for the ship “.People want the responsibility for their success but not their failure. Society can only exist where there are emotionally mature skilled responsible and courageous people who first ensure they are competent to undertake the work and defend themselves, their families and then their neighbours. Only when a farmer produces excess food can the craftsmen be fed
A former Archbishop of York said ” The desire to be spoon fed, have our problems solved by others, be given short snappy answers has sunk deep into our culture “.The belief in ” Self Help ” has withered.
Civilisation occurs because people persevere over decades in undertaking dangerous dirty skilled work. Basically excavating ditches to drain marsh and irrigate land to dry for crops and then plant trees to shade the more delicate crops.
What right does someone have to the water if they have no desire to undertake the work to supply it?

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
11 months ago
Reply to  William Shaw

Gamblers often have families, who become charges on the public purse when disaster strikes.

William Shaw
William Shaw
11 months ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

By families I assume you refer to wives and children.
Women today can, and often do, earn more than men and keep separate bank accounts.
They place great importance on self sufficiency and independence. An important factor for them is the ability to walk away when the husband/partner becomes abusive or controlling.
There’s no justification for these women becoming “charges on the public purse.” That mindset is obsolete and patronizing towards women, though it’s a fact that many female politicians demand ever increasing support and help for their sisterhood.
Women want to be self-reliant, the government and attitudes of obsolete chivalrous men shouldn’t stand in their way.

William Shaw
WS
William Shaw
11 months ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

By families I assume you refer to wives and children.
Women today can, and often do, earn more than men and keep separate bank accounts.
They place great importance on self sufficiency and independence. An important factor for them is the ability to walk away when the husband/partner becomes abusive or controlling.
There’s no justification for these women becoming “charges on the public purse.” That mindset is obsolete and patronizing towards women, though it’s a fact that many female politicians demand ever increasing support and help for their sisterhood.
Women want to be self-reliant, the government and attitudes of obsolete chivalrous men shouldn’t stand in their way.

Peter B
Peter B
11 months ago
Reply to  William Shaw

I cannot agree.
Of course individuals have some responsibility to society, just as they have some relationship with and sense of responsibility to their local community. Imagine if the population of Ukraine were as you describe – they would be quite unable to defend themselves.
In short, there can be no rights or any sort of civilised society without also some responsibilities.
What has happended here is that governments and sports have been captured by the gambling industry. Just check how many premier league football teams are sponsored by sports betting companies. Or remember those halcyon days of New Labour telling us how city centre casinos would “revitalise” the city centres (as if there weren’t plenty of other ways to do so).
I have no doubt that the article here is correct – that gambling is both addictive and socially destructive, that it imposes costs not only on individuals, but also on families and society who didn’t get any choice in the matter. Again, as the article shows, gambling debts may well increase criminality.
It is therefore a responsibility of government to exert some control. But the idea that prohibition is the answer seems absurd. Especially from an American.

Alan Tonkyn
AT
Alan Tonkyn
11 months ago
Reply to  William Shaw

Your final sentence would be fine, were it not for the fact that people who suffer from the various problems created by gambling and other self-destructive activities (eg drug-taking; over-indulgence in alcohol, casual/unsafe sex etc) also expect the government (i.e. the tax-payers) to rescue them from the results of their behaviour. And, as Peter B says in his reply to your post, a civilised society depends on its citizens feeling a sense of duty towards their fellow-men and -women. We cannot claim rights if we do not also accept our responsibilities.

Richard Craven
RC
Richard Craven
11 months ago
Reply to  William Shaw

Gamblers often have families, who become charges on the public purse when disaster strikes.

William Shaw
WS
William Shaw
11 months ago

People should be free to spend their lives any way they please.
And individuals have no duty to society.
It’s not for the government to regulate the people they serve.

Last edited 11 months ago by William Shaw
TheElephant InTheRoom
TI
TheElephant InTheRoom
11 months ago

As a staunch Protestant, I feel too guilty to gamble.

TheElephant InTheRoom
TI
TheElephant InTheRoom
11 months ago

As a staunch Protestant, I feel too guilty to gamble.

Nathan Ngumi
NN
Nathan Ngumi
11 months ago

This is unfortunate. In most countries there are strict laws governing gambling. The State, however, cannot regulate desires of youth.

Nathan Ngumi
Nathan Ngumi
11 months ago

This is unfortunate. In most countries there are strict laws governing gambling. The State, however, cannot regulate desires of youth.