The extent to which the religious right usurped the American political process with its illicit passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act [UIGEA] has had an unforeseen effect --- the opening of a schism between fiscal and religious conservatives. One of the leading lights of conservative economic thought, George F. Will, has now checked in with his thoughts on the matter.
The Oct. 23 issue of Newsweek features Will's eye-opening condemnation, entitled "Prohibition II: Good Grief." In the piece, Will not only notes the rampant nanny-state religious paternalism that drives the act, but clarifies just how destructive the new act is likely to be, both monetarily and to the respect of government that defines American society. Will also examines why the UIGEA is going to make a lot of people rich, from hypocritical state governments and pari-mutuel industries who constructed walls protecting their own profits from the exact same gambling behavior, to the offshore businesses that will bill benefit as the online gambling industry reconfigures itself around the ban.
Will surely understands what the UIGEA's authors are simply unable to comprehend; online gambling just isn't going to go away, short-term triumph for the far right this measure seems to be. In reading, one senses that the billions in London Stock Exchange market equity laid waste by this bill's signing are anathema to the thoughts of free-market capitalists, of whom Will is a champion.
And finally, Will, with his deep sense of historical perspective, points out just how un-American the UIGEA is. Will assails the government for "its mother-hen agenda of putting a saddle and bridle on the Internet," just as he rails against the "the speech police [who] are itching to bring bloggers under campaign-finance laws that control the quantity, content and timing of political discourse."
Will's summation drives home the point that not only is the UIGEA wrong, it's wrong by centuries: "Gambling is, however, as American as the Gold Rush or, for that matter, Wall Street. George Washington deplored the rampant gambling at Valley Forge, but lotteries helped fund his army as well as Harvard, Princeton and Dartmouth. And Washington endorsed the lottery that helped fund construction of the city that now bears his name, and from which has come a stern—but interestingly selective—disapproval of gambling."