More on newspapers and sports betting by mattsteinglass
October 30, 2009, 11:27 pm
Filed under: Libertarianism, Media

It turns out the sports betting-saves-journalism concept is the brainchild of Mortimer Zuckerman, publisher of the Daily News. Apparently Maureen Dowd referenced the idea last week. Matt Welch of libertarian standard-bearer Reason doesn’t like the idea because, true to the libertarian credos, he thinks online gambling should be legal for everyone.

My attitude towards gambling is about the same as my attitude towards heroin: people shouldn’t be prosecuted for engaging in it recreationally, but there shouldn’t be a legal industry developing or advertising it, and the government should do whatever it can to discourage it and to offer rehab to those unfortunate enough to get addicted to it. We have developed a habit in America of funding public goods by granting monopolies to engage in public evils. We do this because we’re unwilling to pay enough taxes to support the social goods we want as a society. There are very limited cases where this is acceptable, but in general, it’s a lousy way to run a society and a ridiculously distorted way to run an economy.


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Interesting. Is your counter-proposal public support for Newspapers?

Comment by citifieddoug

Doug — I think there are two possibilities. The first is to try to put the entire system of blogging journalism back into the cash nexus through micropayments. I think it’s entirely possible that the move towards paywalls can work to generate enough revenue to keep a fair amount of journalism going. This would be particularly true if there’s a certain ideological element involved in choosing and paying for your bundler, in the same way that contributing to NPR marks you as a member in good standing of the liberal middle class. That will exacerbate the trend towards partisanship in media, but it could work OK. It is also possible, however, that the paywall thing won’t work. If it doesn’t, then I think we may ultimately be looking at some public subsidies. The amount involved is pretty small, if you look at the entire size of the journalism industry.

Comment by Matt Steinglass

I really like the micropayments/membership approach, which I think I first learned of in a DiA post of yours. It seems sensible and affordable and lines up the incentives properly. Particularly if you charge a penny a post and twelve dollars to leave a comment.

I think I might be alone thinking my NPR membership says nothing about my politics except that I’m willing to pay to have the world be as I think it should be. Now that I’ve said that, it does sound kind of liberal and bougie.

Comment by citifieddoug

I misunderstood what you meant by “pay enough taxes.”

Comment by citifieddoug

And which DIckens novel did Mortimer Zuckerman first appear in?

Comment by citifieddoug

Can you clarify what you mean by ‘We have developed a habit in America of funding public goods by granting monopolies to engage in public evils.’

Are we talking the old AT&T, for example?

Comment by johnbr


Comment by Matt Steinglass

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