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Place Your Bets

Date: 01 February, 2002

By: Chief

Imagey God, am I discussing ... do I dare utter the word ... gambling? Well yes and no. It depends on your own point of view.

It is funny how most states have laws prohibiting gambling. The exceptions being a state lottery, no monopoly there, oh ha, and Indian gambling on the reservations. The federal government has numerous laws prohibiting gambling. Indeed, the federales are pushing to get two bills enacted. Both would do the same thing: proscribe Internet gambling and punish, you got it, the gambler.

These laws are on the books to protect you from ... yourself. Further the self righteous do-gooders pushed for enactment of these laws very, very hard. You know, they did not outright bribe some Congressman or senator, publicly at least, but they sure did make a huge campaign contribution or set the married, but lonely Congressman up with a very attractive intern. Yeah, the do-gooders will try to save us from ourselves even if it kills us.

At the same time your favorite two faced federal government actively promotes another form of gambling, from which the government derives a huge profit, i.e., investment income taxes — the stock market.

Talk about gambling. Has anyone paid any attention to the woes on Wall Street since September 2000? The technology companies have been and are continuing to be beaten into the ground. DotComs, aka, DotBombs have been dropping like flies. Energy companies are going down the sewer. Textile firms are filing bankruptcy. Airline companies can hardly get off the ground and manufacturing companies, hello Boeing, are queueing up to the federal trough for their annual bail out — at taxpayer expense of course.

According to Alan Greenspan, federal reserve chairman, since September 2000 banks have lost between 5 and 6 trillion dollars. Hmmm, that is a lot of zeros. 12 in fact. That is the reason interest rates have been cut, in 2001, 10 times. Get money back into circulation. Help the banks, screw the citizen. What a concept.

The bottom line, simply put, is the stock market got flushed down the toilet (flush twice, it's along way to Washington). Gamblers, er, investors blew between 5 and 6 trillion dollars. Amazing.

And that is the only and I do mean only difference between playing a game of poker and playing the stock market. Your title. No more, no less. If you play poker, or any other game of chance for that matter, you are a gambler. A sinner. If you play the stock market, (or any other Congressionally supported game of chance) why by God, you're a real good American, an investor. Investing in the future of our country. Bull.

What happens when you buy stock in a company? First you decide what company (game) you are willing to invest (gamble) in. You then hand your hard earned money to a broker (dealer). The broker (dealer) in turn gives you some stock papers (cards). And you're done. Oh, don't forget when you buy stock you must pay the broker a percentage. You don't have to tip the dealer, though it is considered bad form not to.

Now it is all up to you. As a stock holder, do you know when to buy? When to sell? If everyone who buys and sells stock knew what they were doing, the stock market would not be currently residing in the local sewage treatment plant.

When you think about it a gambler has a couple of distinct advantages over an investor. First of all the gambler knows, going in, that the odds are against him. House odds don't you know. Secondly the avid gambler knows the rules of the game he or she is going to play. House rules are standard throughout the various casinos in the country.

The same cannot be said for the stock market. The investor has no clue what the company board of directors, majority share holders or management have planned for the company from one moment to the next. Bad news for the investor. Additionally, what is the skill level of the broker? And even if the broker has excellent skills, no broker can see into the future. Hence, for the most part the investor is relying on a soothsayer dressed in an expensive three piece suit with his hand out waiting to take the investor's [your] money.

Why do you think brokers call it "playing the market?"

As one can clearly see, both are risky, though one less than the other. To be sure, both are one and the same thing. Different forms of gambling, but gambling nonetheless. So why is government so down on one form of gambling but not the other? Simple. Gambling with cards is considered sinning. As such it is bad according to the do-gooders and must be banned for the sake of the family don't you know. The other form of gambling is considered the American way and must be protected and promoted. Of course, both forms can be disastrous to a family, but the politicians and do-gooders tend to overlook that minor detail. Bigots.

Investors, don't even think for a second that you are not gambling. Too many investors have committed suicide for that argument to be taken seriously.

The part that really irks me about all this is the sheer audacity of the government to tell me how and on what I can spend my money on. This from the folks that buy $900 hammers, $1,400 toilet seats, $200 per megawatt hour of electricity and sell the excess for, and I'm not kidding, $.50 per megawatt hour. The government cannot and has not been able to balance a budget for over 100 years. Tax rates have risen, services have plummeted and yet government is going to tell me what I can spend my money on? Buffoons.

Government had better stay out of my checkbook or be prepared to find themselves 6 feet under the unemployment line. The same holds true for the do-gooders.

You would be amazed what can be done with a pair of fives.

[Ed. note: This story has been updated.]

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