HICKS COLUMN: To intrude or not to intrude, conservatives?
So some officials are shocked — shocked — that video poker is creeping back into the state.
Silly politicians, they ought to know it's almost impossible to stop something so lucrative.
But Upstate conservatives are going on the warpath, vowing to ban video poker 2.0 from South Carolina.
Somebody needs to call the hypocrisy hotline.
It's laughable to hear conservatives talk about protecting people from an industry that preys upon people, especially the poor. Not because they are wrong, mind you, but because they normally go out of their way to whine, stomp and moan about the sin of government intruding into people's lives.
Like, for instance, when they bend over backward to defend predatory lending, which probably does a lot more damage than video poker ever dreamed of doing.
The difference, apparently, is that video poker businesses don't dole out as many campaign contributions as the check-into-cash industry.
Many of which, oddly enough, are based in the Upstate.
A golden state?
Charleston state Sen. Robert Ford is disgusted by this faux show of empathy for the poor and victimized.
This from the same people refusing federal health care money for the poor because it was a Democrat's idea (after it was a Republican's). Well that, and they really don't care about the poor, even though the same Bible they quote when blasting gambling also tells us to care for the poor.
Ford ran for governor in 2010 on a platform of legalizing video poker — and then taxing the bejeezus out of it. He figures a 25 percent tax on the industry's revenue would bring in at least $1 billion a year.
And that, he says, could be used to help fund social services, health care for the poor and probably even a bit of a property-tax rollback.
“We could make South Carolina the golden state of the 21st century,” Ford says. It wouldn't be a cure-all, but he's got a point.
Fact is, this new form of computer-based video poker just proves that technology is always going to be ahead of the plodding pols. So if it's going to be here anyway, the state ought to get its cut and put it to good use.
Of course, the most ludicrous part of all this is that South Carolina already runs its own, much bigger gambling operation.
Thousands more people play the South Carolina Education Lottery than ever sat down at a video poker machine. And despite the state's ad campaign to “play responsibly,” some people go overboard. It's lamentable, but this is a free country.
Unless you are conservative and choose to play the nanny state card when it suits you.
There is no doubt that video poker should not be anyone's retirement plan. But this isn't about odds, it's about personal freedom.
It would be good for conservatives to remember all those times they try to block federal programs to help the poor and uninsured by using the argument that it's always better to limit government intrusion.
And then maybe they could practice what they preach.
Reach Brian Hicks at email@example.com.