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Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Gambling Interests Spend Big Bucks in Nebraska

As Nancy Hicks writes in the Lincoln Journal Star, pro-gambling forces have spent some $2 million on two gambling initiatives in Nebraska, outspending opponents 20 to 1.

Most of the money has come from gambling interests, such as casinos, keno operators, and slot machine companies. The Venetian Casino gave $833,000. A local gambling partnership contributed $650,000. Most of the money is scheduled to be spent on television ads.

This is how democracy is practiced without contribution limits. A coalition of 10,000 Nebraskans could chip in $100 a piece and have the same access to newspaper readers, television watchers, and radio listeners as one lousy guy with a million bucks. Or maybe the guy has ten million bucks and it's even more lopsided.

There will not always be a rich knight in shining armor to ride to the rescue of the 10,000. Or if there are a thousand rich guys, to ride to the rescue of the ten million. On some issues, it may very well be that those with great wealth are predominantly on one side, and those without are on the other. Democracy does not allow the wealth of the few to trump the will of the many. If it does, it is not a democracy.

Even with white knights, with your Soros or Pickens or Lynch or Arnall, we still come up short of democracy when only the well-financed can take part in the clash of ideas.

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