Thursday, October 05, 2006

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes...

Should I turn this into a Lost blog? Maybe a public service site with information for teenage boys on how stave off the sexual advances of older, powerful men? (And, just so you know Fox News, you can flash that graphic of Foley that says "D-FL" as much as you like but it STILL doesn't magically turn him into a Democrat, savvy?) Maybe I could learn crocheting and do podcasts to teach you how to make a perfect foundation ring?

I've been sitting here the last few days staring at a $30,000-$40,000 hole in our finances, which is pretty much the expected annual value of my affiliate, advertising, and advantage gambling revenue combined. Years of work and countless hours went into building that up and it was pretty much obliterated in a handful of days. I've spent the last few days taking assorted sites down, turning off the lights. And the sad thing is that I'm very low in the affiliate food chain, barely even registering. The political ambitions of a handful of men have literally erased billions of dollars of wealth in the last week. Not from terrorists or Osama but from people like me and you.

One issue that's largely been lost in all of the hoopla is the effect that this legislation will have on many thousands of US citizens, who derived all or a goodly chunk of their income from poker, either as a player, affiliate, journalist, Web designer, you name it. No one is discussing the potential tax revenues that were flushed down the the toilet, as far as taxes legally paid, year in ad year out, by profitable players and affiliates. The US government gladly accepted tens of thousands of dollars from me in taxes directly generated by the online poker industry, yet falls all over itself in its rush to lop its own nose off, because it a pollster suggested that campaigning noseless in the Iowa Caucuses might result in a 0.24% rise in the polls.

Sadly, I can't even point to a single positive result that will result from all of this, either. If the legislation had banned all gambling in the US, at least you could console yourself with the knowledge that a lot of problem gamblers weren't gambling anymore, or that grandkids might get nicer Christmas presents now that Grandma can't pump her money into penny slots. I obviously think it'd be terrible to unilaterally make a decision like that for all US citizens, but at least I could understand the impetus of it, and at least a few positive results.

Instead we get this. Nothing. Ominous, threatening legislation that absolutely gutted a growing billion dollar industry, negatively affecting millions of people around the world. Legislation that allows you to bet on horses online or buy lottery tickets but forbids you from depositing money to an online poker site. Legislation that criminalizes creating this simple hyperlink, with punishment of up to five years in federal prison.

It just makes me sad, more than anything. I realize I'm too close to this issue to be objective, and still relatively a whipper-snapper on the age scale, but it seems like we've turned a dangerous corner in recent years that seems fairly unprecedented, as far as the dislocation between those in power in the US and the rest of us. It's easy to lay blame at the feet of Bush but that's way too easy, and exactly what the puppet masters want us to do. I mean, by all accounts the man thinks fart jokes are the most hilarious thing on the face of the earth and is obsessed with them. I don't think Bush is the enemy here.

Politics is a game, always has been, always will be. Democrats, Republicans, Whigs, it doesn't matter. If you choose to be involved in politics, it's a pretty fair assumption that you're going to act out of self-interest first, and when that's taken care of, well, you'll do what you can for the people you represent. That's completely copacetic with me. As long as the needs of the people you represent occupy around 40% of your motivation, we're cool. It's not perfect and yeah, it'd be great if that number were higher, but that's a viable system and about as good as we can hope for.

Lately, though, Jebus... I'm scared to even try to peg where that number is, for most elected officials. 5%? 10%? This creeping arrogance seems to have seeped in, where elected officials (both Democrat and Republican) act as if they have absolute impunity to pursue whatever agenda they feel like pursuing. What, we can't torture people if we want to? Well, let's just muddy the waters and change the dang ol' rules. What do you mean we can't eavesdrop on US citizens without approval form the courts? Screw that, dawg, we're just going to do it anyway. Put that in your pipe and smoke it. And don't deposit money to play poker online. Sure, bet on horses online, and spend your entire paycheck on lottery tickets, but don't even think about depositing money to an online poker site.

And, again, I just turned 32, so maybe I'm simply not old and wise enough to remember times like these, and maybe these things are cyclical, but things just feel wrong. I can only imagine what the rest of the world thinks, looking at us in this time in our history. The last thing I'd do is bash the US as I think there are innumerable good and wonderful things about this country, but this is not the brighest of moments in our history.

Looping back to personal grubby matters, I'm not sure what the future is going to hold. Lots of bloggers seem to be grappling with that idea, as far as how to fill the void that was once occupied by poker. Doubly so for me, as I was involved on both fronts, not only playing but the bulk of my outside business was in the online gaming affiliate realm. It's not a death blow, seeing that go poof, as I never quit my day job, but it's a pretty strong knee to the groin. While there are decent arguments that you can still do the online gaming affiliate stuff and no one will ever come after you, those are also slightly missing the point. Even if the feds don't show up at your door, the industry was just completed gutted, and you're only looking at making a fraction of what you were before. And you're always going to have uncertainty hanging over your head, operating in a fairly gray area of the law.

Part of me feels like saying the hell with the affiliate industry entirely, and focusing on buying/renovating real estate. Which would probably be the easiest thing to do, but that somehow feels like I've let (insert name of elected official that is no longer interested in serving the needs of his/her constituents) win. And yeah, I'm being overly dramatic, but whatever. The thought of rolling out free credit card sites or porn sites or Viagra sites doesn't fill me with much enthusiasm, but extra income is a very nice thing. We shall see.

8 comments:

kurokitty said...

If you recall the NYT profile on Party, they went from San Francisco-area massage parlors to Internet porn to fleeing the country to Internet gambling.

Maybe your road map will be filled with equally colorful stops along the way...

Anonymous said...

I dropped Frist an email pointing out the Republicans were passing up a potential new source of tax $$ at a time when the army budget is short by $25 billion, and wouldn't it be a good idea to siphon off some of that evil poker money and spend it on new tanks.

Still awaiting his response.

Michael said...

You are feeling that things are not right because they are in fact not right.

Since 9/11, the erosion of our civil liberties and rights is measurable. From the Patriot Act to wiretapping to protecting torture/dropping habeus corpus to this heinous UIG bill/law , it's clear, IMO, what's going on. While Dems are certainly not angels, the blame lies with the Republican party and Bush.

Easycure said...

1. You are overreacting.

2. Michael (above) is an idiot.

3. When American companies create a new and better online experience that is supported, regulated and taxed by the government.....all will be fine.

Weather the storm.....it's not all bad. Full Tilt will be there for us.

Grinder said...

I have to agree with michale and easycure - except for #2 and I wonder why he is name calling. sems childish.


As one of my blog commenters mentions about affiliates.

"The law of ex-post facto that says if you violate a law you can only be punished to the extent that the law specified AT THE TIME YOU COMMITED THE "CRIME". Since there are no specifications as to what these penalties are, or will be for the next 270 days, it seems to me that you can't be touched. (maybe a stern talking to) This is to protect citizens from being punished by death for a parking violation comitted when the fine was $20 at the time of the violation but was increased to death when some Republican hand wringing ass ...."

ScurvyDog said...

Grinder et al,

I get your drift (and, honestly, I think the odds of anyone knocking on affiliate doors is very slim) but I'm not sure that argument holds water, as far as the ex-post facto part.

Web pages are dynamic and easily editable and don't require a time machine to revisit. If I have a picture of a blue cat on my website that I have complete control over and the US government declares that anyone with a picture of a blue cat on a website will be shot, I have to remove that picture unless I want to risk being shot. Claiming that I put the picture up before the law was enacted doesn't somehow grandfather me in and protect me, as I control what is and isn't on the website and have to, by law, conform to whatever the law currently states is acceptable or not.

ScurvyDog said...

Easycure,

As far as #1, yeah, I am. Guilty as charged. Unfortunately, I've been prodded into it by the US government.

So pardon me if I can't quite buy into #3. I hope you're right, and that things improve in the future and that we somehow reverse the current trend. I can buy into the fact that one must sometimes take a few steps back to move forward, but of late the car seems to jammed into reverse, with the accelerator pegged to the floor.

Michael said...

"I have to agree with michale and easycure - except for #2 and I wonder why he is name calling. sems childish."

Because I have an opinion that he does not agree with, Grinder.

"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." -- Voltaire