Learn From Other States, Reject Casinos

America’s largest casino company launched a TV and radio ad blitz last night aiming to stoke Texans’ FOMO—their fear of missing out.

“Every year,” one ad explains, “Texans spend billions of tourism and gambling dollars at casinos in Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico—billions that could be staying here.” Las Vegas Sands, the corporation funding the campaign, wants state lawmakers to put a measure legalizing casino gambling on the election ballot in November. The bill under consideration would permit construction of one hotel casino in each of the state’s four largest urban areas.

The Lone Star State does have some of the most restrictive gambling laws in the U.S. It has no casinos, save a few small tribal establishments. States with comparable regulations include Alaska, Utah, and Tennessee. 

Those states nearly rival Texas in another regard: all have booming economies with standout rates of GDP growth in the last quarter of 2020. Texas, of course, tops them all with a 7.5 percent growth rate. 

Perhaps, then, Texans shouldn’t wallow in FOMO at the urging of the gambling industry. Perhaps they’ve done well to reject many of the economic follies to which other states have succumbed. But they still might wonder, what harm would arise from casino gambling? Other states have unwittingly answered: plenty.

Estimates by the National Center for Responsible Gaming—an industry-founded group—indicate that between three million and four million Americans are pathological gamblers. Other estimates suggest the number of gambling addicts is as great as eight million (or three percent of American adults). The nonprofit National Council on Problem Gambling estimates that one-fifth of pathological gamblers attempt suicide. A full quarter of these gamblers file for bankruptcy at some point.

Casino operators feign sensitivity to the woes of problem gamblers, but the former invariably depend on the latter. Extensive research has determined that between 30 and 60 percent of casino revenues come from gambling addicts. Casinos have become adept at tracking their biggest spenders (i.e., their most extravagant losers), through loyalty cards and other technology, as well as enticing their repeat business through complimentary drinks, free gifts, limo service, and other perks.

Even the design of the casinos’ electronic gaming devices works to fuel gamblers’ addictions. Slot machines, for example, are sometimes programmed to frequently show “near misses,” with a jackpot symbol appearing just barely over or under the payline. This sparks an “almost-won” feeling that keeps the player engaged in trying again and again for an actual win. According to Atlantic writer John Rosengren, these machines are devised “explicitly to lull [users] into a trancelike state that the industry refers to as ‘continuous gaming productivity.’”

But, one may ask, don’t Texas’s restrictions merely drive problem gamblers to take their pathologies to Louisiana or Oklahoma? Actually, in many cases, no. The National Gambling Impact Study Commission determined that living within 50 miles of a casino doubles the probability someone will develop a gambling addiction. Fewer casinos mean fewer addicts.

So, then, the costs of expanded gambling are real. Meanwhile, ordinary citizens don’t receive much in return. In my home state of Pennsylvania, casinos were approved in 2004 under the pretense that slot revenues would provide substantial property tax relief. A 2020 comparison of average property tax burdens by state found that—14 casinos later—Pennsylvanians still endure the 11th highest average property tax bill. New Jersey introduced gambling in the 1970s as a means to avoid tax hikes and that, needless to say, didn’t work out. A 2016 SUNY-Rockefeller Institute of Government study of gaming revenues showed this outcome has befallen state after state.

As for gambling as an economic development boon, good luck enlisting any respected urban policy expert of any political stripe in the cause. The liberal planning guru Richard Florida calls downtown casino building “city-ruining of the highest order.” Center-right Harvard economist Edward Glaeser, who doesn’t object to new casinos in theory, sees “considerable downsides to gambling” and publicly opposed the building of a slots parlor in Worcester, MA. 

These flashy commercial edifices don’t increase local prosperity because, in addition to worsening crime and family breakdown, they displace spending that would normally go toward non-gaming consumption. Casinos reshape the economy, but they don’t grow it.

Texas has had time to observe other states trying this idea. It will have no excuse for repeating their mistake.

Biden’s Border Crisis Is Endangering Texans

President Biden’s inaction regarding the surge of illegal immigrants at the southern U.S. Border has been nothing sort of disastrous. Foolishly deciding to shift from former President Donald Trump’s tough stance on immigration has led to a crisis of epic proportions that directly endangered Texans as violent criminals are making their way into the U.S. On Tuesday, Houston CBS affiliate, KHOU 11, reported that a Mexican man convicted of murder in May 2020, who was deported back to Mexico, was arrested Sunday night in Progeso, Texas.

Unfortunately, this is just one of the many examples of the complete deterioration of border security and the immigration problems our country faces. Murderers, violent criminals, and drugs are constantly entering our country and innocent Americans are the ones who suffer. Politicians are failing to do their job in protecting the people of our country. Democrats are particularly culpable as they ignore the security of Americans to prioritize thousands of non-citizens looking to enter the country illegally. And while we should show compassion to those fleeing unsafe circumstances and looking to come to this country for a better life, there must be law and order in this process. Plenty of people flee their countries and dangerous circumstances to come to America yet they do it legally.

Sadly, identity politics and the radical agenda of Democrats are forced onto Americans putting them in danger. The unidentified man who was caught in Progreso and murdered someone in Houston was also arrested six months before he committed murder for “assault causing bodily harm” and sentenced to 30 days in jail, according to KHOU 11. It should be legitimately questioned as to why he was not deported after his arrest, but this is indicative of the illogical decisions and unsafe conditions the illegal immigrant crisis has caused in this country.

And things have taken a turn for the worst.

According to KHOU 11, the Rio Grande Valley Sector Border Patrol revealed the urgency that the current border crisis has created – the number of criminals apprehended at the southern border is nearly five times greater than it was at this point in 2020. Whereas 338 criminals were taken into custody in 2020, there have been 1625 illegal immigrant with criminal records arrested. And of those apprehended, these criminals have previously been convicted in the United States for assault, narcotics trafficking, sexual crimes, and murder.

What should be of great concern is the staggering increase during this surge. In a press release from April 8, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) stated that there have already been over half a million encounters, 569,800, this fiscal year – a increase of 24 percent from the previous year. Furthermore, this also revealed a 34 percent increase from 2019 – the year before the pandemic started. In March, CBP reported a jaw-dropping 71 percent increase of illegal immigrants trying to enter the country from February 2021.

Illegal narcotics smuggling is an additional problem with the migrant surge. CBP reported that cocaine interceptions increased 26 percent, methamphetamine increased 91 percent, and heroin increased 22 percent. When these drugs get into our country, it is Americans who suffer. Americans are the ones who are destroyed by drug addiction. This is a narcotic assault on our country and Democrats are not doing anything. They are letting innocent people suffer to appease their radical base. They would rather focus on identity politics or felons shot by police than innocent Americans succumbing to the horrendous acts of criminals smuggled in from Mexico.

Hans von Spakovsky of the Heritage Foundation reported that in 2018, nearly 25% of all federal drug arrests occurred in the five judicial districts along the southern border. Spakovsky also reported that in the year prior, there were more Mexicans arrested for federal crimes than U.S. citizens. Additionally, migrants from Central America were responsible for 20 percent of federal arrests in 2018. Another important caveat to consider is that non-citizens comprise about 7 percent of the U.S. population, yet were responsible for 64 percent of all federal arrests in 2018.

These statistics are abhorrent but they reveal how dire the situation the border crisis is. However, one would be hard pressed to find out these statistics dominating the news cycle or media circuit. President Trump’s immigration policies were predicated on defending and protecting the lives of Americans from criminal illegal aliens. He was scoffed by many on the left and the threat was diminished and labeled as xenophobic and racist. Unfortunately, those that are killed from criminal illegal immigrants no longer have a voice to object to the complete disregard of American lives. If you are reading this article, you still do.

Constitutional Carry Passes Texas House!

For years Texas lagged behind peers in support of the second amendment. Before today, 19 states had pro-gun laws on the books giving citizens the right to carry without a permit. Today, the Texas House of Representatives led by Matt Schaefer (Rep. – TX 6) and supported by a Republican majority passed constitutional carry.

The bill will move to the Texas Senate after the third and final reading in the house where it will then be in the hands of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Senator Brian Birdwell.

Trust the Science? Where are the COVID Surges in Texas?

Texas Governor Greg Abbott drew the ire of left wingers everywhere when he issued an Executive Order on March 2 that Texas would lift all mask mandates and open their state 100 percent. And according to them, this was a big mistake and would lead to a resurgence of cases, death, doom and gloom. Funny thing has happened, it has not.

“With the medical advancements of vaccines and antibody therapeutic drugs, Texas now has the tools to protect Texans from the virus,” Abbott said in a press release announcing his Executive Order. “We must now do more to restore livelihoods and normalcy for Texans by opening Texas 100 percent. Make no mistake, COVID-19 has not disappeared, but it is clear from the recoveries, vaccinations, reduced hospitalizations, and safe practices that Texans are using that state mandates are no longer needed.”

President Biden joined in on the condemnations insinuating it was a stupid mistake.

“The last thing you need is Neanderthal thinking that, in the meantime, everything is fine, take off your mask,” Biden said. “It’s critical that we follow the science. Wear a mask and stay socially distanced.”

White House Press Secretary stated that “This entire country has paid the price for political leaders who ignored the science when it comes to the pandemic. California Governor Gavin Newsome called the move, “absolutely reckless.”

Dr. Rochelle Wallensky, Director of U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was also very critical over Abbott’s decision. “Now is not the time to relax the critical safeguards that we know can stop the spread of COVID-19 in our communities, not when we are so close.”

And so far, regarding Texas, they were all wrong.

But if following the science meant still wearing a mask in Texas, and the facts show there has not been any increase in cases, what does that say about the science? What does that say about our leadership in this country?

And, not only have cases failed to rise in Texas, they are actively dropping! Since Abbot’s Executive Order (EO), Texas’ Covid-19 cases have dropped by about 4,000 per day, while the state’s deaths have dropped by 137 per day, according to The New York Times’ COVID tracker.

Dr. Anthony Fauci called Abbot’s EO “ill-advised” and “risky” on March 3. He claimed such actions were “premature” and it would likely lead to another surge of new Covid-19 cases in the Lone Star State.  

“That’s a dangerous sign because when that has happened in the past, when you pull back on measures of public health, invariably you’ve seen a surge back up,” Fauci said. He claimed that the only safe way to proceed during the pandemic is to wait until COVID rates fall to significantly low figures.

Yet, Fauci appeared on MSNBC ‘s Morning Joe’ on Tuesday morning and could not explain why Texas has not had any surges or negative ramifications stemming from Abbott’s EO. He was asked about the data and stated it could be wrong with a possible lag in reporting.

“You know it’s very difficult to just one on one compare that,” he said. “You just have to see in the long-range. I hope they continue to tick down, if they do that would be great. But there’s always the concern when you pull back on methods, particularly things like indoor dining and bars that are crowded, you can see a delay and then all of the sudden tick back up.”

Texas currently averages 3,224 new COVID-19 cases per day, the lowest number of new cases per day since June 19. The state also averages 88 deaths per day, the lowest since Nov. 4.

Texas could represent an interesting case if they continue to see a decline in numbers. While the data has shown this sharp decrease, Fauci was also quick to warn events such as a packed Texas Rangers stadium on Monday night could be “super-spreader” and result in numbers increasing. However, if this does not happen, it would be significant.

At the moment, Texas serves as an important case study in the cult-like mantra of “trust the science.” A blind allegiance to science is almost as bad, if not worse, than a widespread rejection of it. Science is constantly changing, evolving, and being updated as new data and discoveries occur. What was true one day may be entirely wrong the next.

While the notion of trusting science probably had some merit and good intentions in its original form, it evolved into a left-wing rally cry that is not predicated on fact but rather ideology. That could very well be the preeminent lesson from this pandemic.

Private Health Insurance Plans Fund “Gender-Affirming” LGBT Institutions via Hidden Tax

A non-profit called the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) receives hundreds of millions of dollars each year through a hidden excise tax known as a PCORI fee.

PCORI was established under Obamacare with the mission to assist people in making informed healthcare decisions. The non-profit is funded by a congressionally authorized tax called a PCORI Fee. The fee hits hundreds of thousands of private health insurance plans each year, extracting millions to create a behemoth non-profit. The 2019 PCORI Annual Report showed revenues of $615,205,771.

PCORI allocates funding with a preference toward minority populations, including Transgender (LGBT) persons. A quick search reveals some of the grants extended to these groups:

  • TRANS-ARC, a non-profit staffed by every manner of he/him, they/them, and she/her was recently the recipient of $99,957 to form a summit to study “how to best measure the benefits of gender-affirming surgery.”
  • UC San Francisco was awarded $2,146,837 in 2015 to develop “PRIDEnet: A Participant-powered Research Network of Sexual and Gender Minorities.”
  • The Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health University of Arkansas was awarded $249,892 for an ongoing project that will build “the capacity of racially and ethnically diverse trans/non-binary patients and community members, affirming clinicians and researchers to address stigma, discrimination, and other access barriers to affirming transgender health care in the South.”
  • A project concluded in 2018 which cost $1,530,716 to “Comparing Ways to Ask Patients about Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in the Emergency Room.”

PCORI is a non-profit extracting hundreds of millions of dollars from America’s workforce and businesses through health insurance plans. The aforementioned projects may have legitimate medical purposes, but without proper oversight, it appears to be a slush fund for special interest. For those paying the tax, there is no way to object to the funding of these projects religious or moral grounds.

Railroading of Derek Chauvin Day 3

Genevieve Hansen, a prosecution witness, who was an off-duty firefighter at the scene, seems contemptuous of the judge and Chauvin’s attorney. It was so bad that the judge had to warn her not to argue with the court or with the defense attorney.

Genevieve Hansen, 27, a Minneapolis firefighter of two years, who was off-duty and a witness to the George Floyd arrest, testified for the prosecution. Her testimony was often contradictory and argumentative.

Defense attorney Eric Nelson asked her about her background and experience. She said has two years of experience as a firefighter. She also has training as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and acknowledged she is not as highly trained as Paramedics are.

When asked she responded that as a firefighter she has been in several burning buildings. Nelson asked her if a bystander at a fire ever told her that she is not fighting the fire properly. She said no. She was then asked if a bystander videotaped her while fighting a fire. She has seen citizens filming her. 

Nelson inquired to what affect this would have on the performance of her duties -would she change the way she did her job. She said no. She also said that no citizen has ever yelled at her while she was fighting a fire. Still, Nelson wanted to know that if hostile crowds were haranguing her, if she were surrounded by a hostile crowd would it prevent her from doing her job? She replied it would not.

So it was established that despite her criticism that Officer Chauvin did not listen to her or others in the crowd she would have done the same.

Hansen testified EMT’s do not enter the scene until the police judge it safe for them to do so. Police usually arrive first, they assess the situation. Only then are the Fire Dept. or EMT’s summoned. Nelson, despite Hansen’s combativeness and evasiveness, was able to have Hansen admit that she should have known that an ambulance had been called for Floyd.

The records and a transcript of her interview with investigating officers in May 2020 stated she arrived at 8:26:29 p.m. These records indicated that paramedics were called at 8:21 initially as a routine call but then upgraded to an urgent call within 90 seconds of the first request. But Hansen said she did not believe the records. But she did acknowledge that she had no idea when an ambulance was called. She claimed she knew that something was wrong because the fire engine arrived after the ambulance. This is not the usual procedure.

So Genevieve Hansen, a 27-year-old firefighter with two years experience and some training as an EMT, in other rudimentary training in medicine – feels qualified to judge that the police were doing their job incorrectly, she is right and the written record is wrong, and that she could diagnose Floyd.

Hansen’s testimony was also inaccurate. She said she saw four police officers on Floyd but there were only three. She said Floyd was a thin man, but he is not. 

Store employee Christopher Martin also testified for the prosecution. Martin was the person who took the $20 counterfeit bill and was tasked with retrieving the money.

Martin testified that in his opinion Floyd was under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This was based on his conversation with Floyd in the store and also when he tried to recover the money for the fake bill. He did this by walking to the SUV in which Floyd was sitting with two other people. 

Twice Martin tried to persuade Floyd to return to the store and either pay for the cigarettes or speak to the manager. Both times he refused. The second time Floyd and his companion in the front of the seat of the SUV were both hostile. He admitted he was afraid of Floyd. Martin confirmed that he was present when his co-worker called 911, reporting a crime and asking for police help. He confirmed that he heard his co-worker tell the police dispatcher that Floyd was under the influence of drugs or alcohol

So the Chauvin’s defense attorney established that at least one witness was not only not very credible but outright hostile to the defense attorney, to the police, and to the court.  Another witness confirmed that Floyd was under the influence of drugs or alcohol and that he was intimidated by Floyd.

Once again, witnesses for the prosecution are helping Chauvin’s defense. They have depicted police who were restraining a combative George Floyd, using reasonable methods; police who did call for medical assistance for George Floyd as soon as they recognized there was a medical problem; police who performing their duty on a busy street with cars passing by, and in front of a hostile crowd; police who were dealing with a man, George Floyd, who was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

This picture becomes clearer on Day 4 – as the prosecution witnesses once again validate that George Floyd was a drug addict, was on drugs the day he passed the counterfeit money, was belligerent, and that the police were doing what they could do to restrain him until he could be brought to the hospital. 

None of this adds up to murder – and these are the prosecution witnesses.

Dems’ Pro-Union Bill Is Anti-Worker

Like any good Marxist, Alex Press reveres working people. That’s why the Jacobin staff writer demands unionization for those who want it. And for those who don’t. And, surely, it’s why she judges workers who reject collective bargaining as ignoramuses who suffer from “widespread confusion.”

Variations of that phrase appear throughout her March 26 New Republic article flaying the many independent professionals who oppose a radical labor bill favored by President Biden. Called the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, it would prohibit state right-to-work laws that protect workers from paying involuntary union dues. It would furthermore classify most contract workers as employees, thus subjecting them to the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).

Press insists the bill, which passed the U.S. House in early March, does not impinge on contractors’ autonomy in any meaningful sense. “The PRO Act is not intended to change the employment status of freelancers,” she writes, “nor will it force companies to do so.” As we’ll see, the “confusion” is all her own.

The proposed law, using the so-called “ABC test,” would permit workers to keep their independent-contractor status only if: “A) the individual is free from control and direction in connection with the performance of the service, both under the contract for the performance of service and in fact; (B) the service is performed outside the usual course of the business of the employer; and (C) the individual is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, profession, or business of the same nature as that involved in the service performed.”

The inability of most independent contractors to meet all three conditions would render them ineligible to operate as such. That would harm millions of livelihoods, as almost 59 million Americans performed freelance work in the last year, more than 15 million of whom did so full-time. (It also bears noting that those who supplement their income through independent contracting are especially unlikely to satisfy the ABC test and can expect to suffer overwhelmingly.) Survey data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that about nine of every 10 freelance workers wish to continue operating independently. Multitudes of writers, information-technology professionals, and other workers have thus mobilized against the PRO Act.

Press argues that these professionals are ignorant of how the act would actually impact them. Specifically, she asserts that the legislation would only reclassify independent contractors as employees by applying NLRA protections of collective bargaining; she stresses that the bill doesn’t treat these contractors as staffers under other labor laws, e.g., wage and hour regulations, like California’s infamous AB5 law does. In short, the PRO Act only helps workers collectively bargain. Who among them could object to that?

But awkwardly, Press proceeds to quote Professor Michael LeRoy of the School of Labor and Employment Relations at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Though a supporter of the PRO Act, LeRoy had been quoted in a Forbes article as saying “the law would possibly limit work for women, retirees, college students and other similar demographics.” Press claims the professor “tells The New Republic that the Forbes column misrepresents his views.”

Curious readers can view the full text of the original interview LeRoy gave to his university’s Illinois News Bureau. He spoke precisely the words Forbes attributed to him, reiterating his observation that the PRO Act “would likely have adverse effects on some types of workers.” 

LeRoy’s concluding remarks to the Illinois News Bureau are striking: “But let’s not forget what the PRO Act does: It would allow workers to vote for or against a union. If workers fear loss of jobs due to forming a union, they should vote no and keep the status quo.” Of course, under the PRO Act, workers who don’t wish to join a labor organization cannot refuse to pay union dues and will have no real power to negotiate their own contracts.

Private-sector workers who want to operate in collective bargaining units should always have that right, so long as they don’t compel the participation of their unwilling colleagues. But anyone considering such an arrangement should understand that the general effect of unionization on American incomes over the last half century hasn’t been positive. As Ohio University economist Lowell E. Gallaway and his research associate Jonathan Robe demonstrate in their 2014 study “The Unintended Consequences of Collective Bargaining”, unions have made labor more expensive, thereby curbing job opportunities in unionized sectors, raising the labor supply in nonunion industries, and in turn lowering wages in the latter occupations. While wage growth across the American workforce is imperative, it is only sustainable in the long run through rising productivity.

Not only does the PRO Act reject the proper course for enriching American workers, it introduces a host of outrageous changes to U.S. labor law. One provision would grant unions access to employees’ personal contact information—including cell phone numbers and email addresses!—in the run-up to a unionization election. Another would deny the right of workers to a secret ballot in such elections. The bill would furthermore force businesses to allow the use of their equipment (e.g. phones, computers, and email systems) for union purposes.

Congressman Henry Cuellar (D-TX) summed up this legislation correctly when he tweeted, “This bill would destroy small businesses and thousands of Texas jobs in our communities who are struggling to stay alive during this pandemic.” Sadly, he was the only House Democrat to oppose the bill. May it die gloriously via filibuster in the Senate.