April 18, 2011 10:45AM

News Items: Internet Gambling and Agriculture

Some items from my inbox:

  • The Department of Justice late Friday announced it had indicted 11 online poker executives, charging them with money‐​laundering and bank fraud. (HT: Jonathan Blanks). This crackdown is far stronger than any seen from the Bush administration, and is disappointing people like me, who had hoped for a better stance on civil liberties from the Obama administration. To quote my former colleague Radley Balko (language warning): “Good to know where the DOJ’s priorities lie. In this case, it’s preventing millions of people from consensually wagering money in online card games, an exchange that causes no harm to anyone else.”
  • Ironically Insanely, the indictments came just days after the District of Columbia announced it would allow internet gambling.
  • In keeping with the new set of talking points the farm lobby has devised (“we already gave at the office through crop insurance reforms” and “agriculture should face cuts no larger than the average of other programs”), the Democratic members of the House Agriculture Committee on Friday sent out a press release complaining about the “disproportionate” cuts agriculture would face if the House‐​passed FY2012 budget resolution went into effect. While Agriculture would face a 23 percent cut, they say, other committees’ program areas would face an average cut of 14 percent. And they complain that Defense faces only minimal cuts. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: all government programs are not created equal. Some — like Defense, although clearly there is significant room for cuts there — are legitimate uses of government’s power. Others — like farm subsidies — are not.
  • An interesting article on the non‐​link between farm subsidies and obesity, by political scientist Robert Paarlberg (co‐​author of an excellent book on American farm policy). He cites Cato as being one of the groups engaging in “careless thinking” on this issue, and although I have in the past linked farm subsidies to certain food consumption patterns, over the past year or so I have become increasingly skeptical of that view, mainly as a result of reading stuff like this from smart folks at UCDavis.