Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Internet Gambling and Other Victimless Crimes

Behavioral economics and the nanny-state

Two items of related news lately, one is that arrests of internet gambling operators are continuing and two is that the new science of behavioral economics is pointing the way for more state control of victimless behavior.

The problem is that gambling, prostitution and drugs should not be illegal. After all does not the government sanction gambling (lotteries and concessions) and is not alcohol legal (and highly taxed)? And isnt prostitution the worldest oldest profession? There seems to be a disconnect in prohibiting this behavior, if not downright hypocrisy.

Behavioral economics seems to view this type of behavior as something wrong, a sickness if you will. Why so, if it brings pleasure and doesnt effect anyone else negatively? Sure it is interesting to use neurological research tools to see how the brain is effected when making economic decisions but why does everything then have to translate to a policy prescription? Cannot knoweldge be useful unto itself?

Engels wrote how the state evolved to protect the power structure, and state control of victimless personal behavior is just a continuation of this construct. Now, the power structure is the state itself.