(Guest blogger: Robb Allen from Sharp as a Marble)
The one thing that the government does well is punish criminals. The one thing they screw up more than anything is accurately define “crime”
Police in San Mateo County, California apparently first spent months investigating the small-stakes poker game. From this firsthand account, it looks like a couple of the officers were playing regularly for several weeks before sending in the SWAT team, guns drawn, last week. If California is like most states (and I believe it is), a poker game is only illegal if the house is taking a rake off the top. In this case, it looks like that “rake” was the $5 the extra the hosts asked from each buy-in to pay for pizza and beer.
Police also took a 13-year-old girl out of the home, away from her parents, and turned her over to child protective services. In addition to the charge of running an illegal gambling operation, the hosts are also charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Good thing the poor girl was saved before slouching toward an inevitable life of crime.
A crime has a victim and the victim in this story is who, exactly? Nobody showed up and found out that they had to pay some money for beer and food and were held against their will, were they? Did the homeowners pick-pocket their guests?
No, I think you’ll find that it is the State who will claim to be the victim here. You see, any time money changes hands, the Government considers a portion of that transaction to be theirs (call it a “rake”). When the government doesn’t get its share of taxes, it calls foul and does its best to extract the money via other methods.
Of course, this will be spun as “protecting the citizenry from gambling”. The nanny-statists will drool over the chance to prevent people from spending their money as they see fit. They’ll attach ridiculous possibilities and worst-case-scenarios as an excuse to keep that little girl away from her family. And in the process, they will expand their power.
I don’t do poker much. Usually when we play, it’s $20 for buy in, set limits on the pot, then we chip in whatever we can for food & beer, just like this story. And yes, I tend to lose all $20. But I do so voluntarily, and have a blast doing it. It used to be evangelicals that got their panties in a wad if someone was happy, now that role has been switched over to our “betters” in the government.
It’s sad to think that the police department considered a raid on a private poker game to be more important that using that same amount of energy going after the real criminals in our society. Instead, they’re going to ruin many lives (including that little girl’s) to save those same lives. And hey, the money they confiscated from the party? Bonus!