Whilst the ongoing US presidential election makes it clear the political process in America is broken, the quieter tragedy of having fallen prey to the scourge of committees and the petty and rule obsessed is less obvious, however some are drawing attention to the farce that is Special Districts and recently it was the turn of the razor sharp John Oliver.
If US gambling laws now look like a painting by Picasso, the hardline stances of yesteryear that saw small oases of sensible regulation like Atlantic City and Las Vegas retain a tight grip on the industry now melting and losing form under the hammer blow of economic pressures and political lobbyists run amok, it shouldn’t really surprise anyone. Art is now all too often imitated by the real world. Just look at the similarity to all Presidential election coverage and “The Scream” by Edvard Munch. I rest my case.
However whilst the fight for America’s soul twixt everyone else and Donald Trump, a man described lately as “a pathological liar” by Bernie Sanders (a charge Politico’s stats could probably back up in court) is all absorbing, the self-confessed “near-sighted parrot that works in a bank” looking John Oliver over on HBO’s Last Week Tonight recently highlighted that whilst sensible local revenue generation through regulated online gambling is still held hostage by the vested interest of casino owners and their chums, the actual spending of your tax dollars is far less tightly controlled.
His item on “Special Districts” (a name you really hoped they’d not start using about places yu live until a far flung dystopian future because it sounds like it might be zoning for FEMA death camps) focused on some of the 40,000 Special Districts in the US that account for some $100 billion in spending with the sort of lax accountability that goes along with things no one has ever heard of, and whilst naturally some are doing sterling work in areas like fire fighting or water supply, others featured in the report were manifestly failing to provide adequate or fair service.
The dubious manner in which some Special Districts are created, the fraudulent use of funds and the attitude of some being akin the to the NSA when it comes to open and honest transparency, led Adam Edelen (a Kentucky auditor of public accounts) to refer to it as “Ghost Government” which I feel relatively certain I saw defeated by Scooby Doo and the rest of the ‘meddling kids’ from the Mystery Machine back in the 1970s. I’m gambling news that my memory is at divergence with reality (once again) will surprise no one as one video clip featured easily demonstrated. Here’s the piece.
Last Week Tonight With John Oliver Focused On Special Districts
The meeting of the Litchfield Mosquito Control District, a very necessary and important public body I feel sure, saw two men present as chairman and co-chairman and no one else in attendance, and despite this the pair very steadfastly held precisely to the rules as were laid down for the meeting, including asking a room distinctly lacking in public if anyone from the public would like to comment. This then is the government in the shadows, the man behind the curtain, the system that means those who like to bet on sports in the US can’t simply log on and do so like so many in other nations.
Those reading this in the US may be jealous of our freedoms, however it is only because we identified the problem so much earlier on. We applaud John Oliver’s effort to bring this silly Special Districts situation to the attention of the American public, however when it comes to petty bureaucracy once again art was there well ahead of him, certainly in the case of the United Kingdom. One only need look at the 1957 Ealing comedy “All At Sea” (aka Barnacle Bill) with the utterly fabulous Alec Guinness to see what the popular opinion of committees was at the time. It is a reputation that hasn’t changed.
In “Yes Minister”, the satire on government of the 1970s with Paul Eddington, Nigel Hawthorne and Derek Fowlds, positions on “Quangos” (the Special Districts of the day) were used as a bribe to keep things under wraps in “Jobs For The Boys”, and in the 1980s it was Nicholas Lindhurst in “Only Fools And Horses” episode “Homesick” who foreshadowed the the meeting in Litchfield of the ghost government’s anti-mosquito unit featured on HBO. It might only be the Tenants Association for Nelson Mandela House but the similarities in circumstance are obvious. The Real World again aping art.
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It is not that we abroad have rid ourselves of the blight of pettifogging bureaucrats, merely that we have long since resigned ourselves to them and have tried our best to weed out some of the more ridiculously self-serving. No one, not even John Oliver, is suggesting getting rid of Special Districts, but taking a closer look at what they do is probably a wise move. The question is: when will the same be said of online gambling regulation in the United States? Those, like Sheldon Adelson, that want to return to laws written before the internet existed refuse to understand that oversight is better than ignorance, however blissful.
I wouldn’t want to place a wager on when the US will sort out their political problems, the system is rotten from snout to tail and however much lipstick you put on this pig it’ll never look pretty, but that doesn’t mean you can’t place a bet or two on the outcome of this US Presidential election. You’ll find all the odds you need at Bet365Sportsbook, and looking at the results so far in the primaries it becomes more and more obvious that putting a few bucks on the right candidate could be the only way you’ll actually win this November. Unless your local Special Districts come to round you up before then.