Friday, July 07, 2006

The (In)justice of Gambling

In a comment on my previous post on gambling, Jacqueline Passey says:

gambling is distributive justice, moving money from stupid people to smart people.
The utilitarian in me points out that Jacqueline gets things exactly backwards: distributive justice demands moving money from smart people to stupid people. Smart people have the potential to make a lot of money and thus have lower marginal utility per dollar, while stupid people have less money-making potential and higher marginal utility.

The moralist in me believes that smart people should not be trying to dupe stupid people out of their money but should instead be using their talents to make the world a better place.

The libertarian in me disagrees with the utilitarian but will support the moralist, as long as the moralist promises to refrain from using the coercive power of the state.