Thursday, July 21, 2011

Turn the Tables on a Rigged Game

By Carl Davidson

Beaver County Blue

Our local conservative newspaper, the Pittsburgh Business Times, carries an instructive story this morning, July 21, 2011, about how to solve our revenue problems, only it fails to make the critical point. So I’ll lend a hand. It says:

“Pennsylvania casinos brought in $81.4 million in tax revenue from table games during the fiscal year that ended last month, according to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. Of that, about $71.3 million went to the state’s general fund and another $10 million went to local municipalities and counties that host the state’s 10 table game casinos.

“The Rivers Casino on the North Shore was responsible for $8 million in state tax revenue and $1.2 million in local payments through its table games operations during the past fiscal year.”

It goes on to break the numbers down even more.

Now I can enjoy a day at the Casino. I recently took my Mom and stepfather, a retired J&L worker, to the Rivers for his 84th birthday. I hit the nickel slot for $1.50 on my first try, but ended up leaving $5 in the hole.

But here’s my point. There’s a much larger casino in this country that has global reach. It’s called Wall Street, and enormous sums are bet there every second, with the biggest bets being placed by hedge fund managers gambling with other people’s money.

But where’s the ‘house take,’ like the tax revenues reported above? If they can get these amounts from the working class, what about the Wall Street class?

That’s what a financial transaction tax would do, and it could pay a great deal of our country’s social needs budget with plenty left over. What’s more, it wouldn’t even put a burden on productive capital, such as a new green manufacturing startups.

Instead we get big-time gamblers in derivatives wanting us taxpayers to cover their losses. That would be like me going to the Pittsburgh treasurer and asking for a tax deal to get my $5 back that I lost the other day, but I still get to keep the  $1.50 I won on my first bet.

The bottom line is that we live in a class society with the wrong class on top. The boss press can easily report on the gaming taxes taken mainly from the working class, but the notion of taking a ‘house cut’ from the truly high rollers of finance capital, well, that’s ‘off the table.’

It’s time to turn this rigged game upside down.

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