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Lost Race

by on November 30, 2010

Running a business is tough. It’s no fun responsibly paying bills and still floundering in red ink when reaping profits is worlds more fun. So why not ask for state aid to get ahead? Nah, that’s aiming too low: ask the state to take over your operation first, especially if it’s clear you’re never going to rake in the dimes. They key is failing spectacularly enough.

Naturally and sadly, New York has learned nothing from the folly of bailing out companies who aren’t good at being companies. As a result, the state is contemplating preventing the horror that would be the inability to bet on ponies, at least not in New York City’s state-owned parlors. On a related note, the state owns parlors for some reason:

Officials are warning that the New York City Off-Track Betting Corp. could be forced to shut down in December unless state lawmakers approve a bailout of the operation.

City OTB board chair Larry Schwartz and president Greg Rayburn said Sunday that state lawmakers need to intervene to keep betting parlors and horse racing tracks open.

Aren’t bettors supposed to keep the venues open? But too many people are spending what little they have on non-horse-race-related expenses. There may be jobs lost in an obsolete industry as a result of the utter disinterest:

A shutdown would reverberate throughout the state’s horse racing industry, threatening up to 70,000 jobs.

About 500 workers are expected to be laid-off Tuesday.

Who would think that an entity catering to those who think they can get rich by beating the house via wagering on an obscure sport might face financial woes?

The state-owned New York City OTB is laboring to emerge from bankruptcy.

Most horse carriage drivers who don’t sucker tourists into jaunts through Central Park have been out of work for about a century, too. But noooo, they don’t get a lifeline. The fact the horse industry has gone the way of the dodo is apparently irrelevant.

The state just couldn’t stay uninvolved. Heavens forbid greedy citizens run a business themselves: that would deprive a selfless government from reaping 100 percent of potential profits.

If betting without visiting a horse oval was lucrative, then investors should be making money and employing people off of it. It’s not the state’s money to make. But they’re not making it, anyway.

And subsidizing antiquated jobs vacuums away money that could be used to add to the employment rolls of 2010’s industries. Free marketeers can create wealth. But propping up state workers is a zero-sum game. In other words, we’re paying from a finite pile for a racing and gambling industry we’ve demonstrated we don’t want.

It’s disappointing but expected that this self-impoverishing state is rewarding failure. After all, they set the standard for the federal government. Nearly two years of Obamaism has taught us that putting businesses on the dole gives them every reason to take dumb risks and no reason to fear the consequences. The only thing worse than the government acquiring private enterprises happens when they’ve already been publicly owned for awhile.

Nothing’s about to change. As for our lame duck statist state leader, David Paterson is fittingly finishing off his unelected reign by calling for governmental money to rescue an arcanely unpopular hobby pursued by degenerates. While it’s nice that he’s on his way out, he’s not leaving without fighting to waste the taxpayer’s money first. It’s not precisely a noble last stand.

Worse, a new executive entering office in the new year won’t bring relief. We can’t count on the next governor to make wise decisions, and not just because he’s dating a woman responsible for creating both a most curiously appalling Kwanzaa cake and the most disgusting meatloaf imaginable.

His girlfriend’s questionable culinary abilities aside, Andrew Cuomo has spent his career studying in the political school that advises students to take money from the economy to fix problems created by taking money from the economy in the first place.  He won’t change despite claims of suddenly being stricken with pangs of financial responsibility.

But who cares what we want? We can survive without Off Track Betting, as most of us don’t care about what happens on the track. If enough people wanted to gamble by betting which horsey will run the fastest, it would be a self-sustaining business.

As it stands, equine wagering is about as unpopular as NPR and as equally undeserving of public subsidies. If it’s worthwhile, pay for it yourself.

The state should get out of a business in which they never should have been involved. But they’d have to be pro-business first.

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