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Monday, November 06, 2006

Last-Minute Notes on Ballot Issues

Issue 3
Issue 3 is far from perfect. First, it would establish a state-protected oligopoly. Second, it would legalize only slot machines, and give only Cuyahoga County the option of legalizing table games at a later date. Third, as Jill Miller Zimon points out, there are some unanswered questions about the scholarship program that Issue 3 would establish.

Still, for all its flaws, voted yes on Issue 3 earlier today. Sure, I'd rather see an open market for casino gaming, rather than a state-protected oligopoly. I'd also rather legalize full-service casinos, complete with table games and sports books, than just slot machines. But you go to the polls with the gaming amendment you have, not the gaming amendment you might wish for, and I've decided that a state-protected oligopoly is a lesser evil than the complete prohibition of casino gaming that exists under current law.

Vote yes on Issue 3

Issues 4 and 5

If you haven't voted yet, please read this article by Julian Sanchez on the economics of smoking bans. Here are a couple of excerpts:
...it's nevertheless true that a welter of studies have not found a dramatic decline in aggregate hospitality sales in many areas that have enacted smoking bans. In some, business even appears to be up.

Yet aggregate data can be misleading. It may be that aggregate revenue doesn't show a drop in business, but that doesn't mean that particular restaurants aren't hurting. In fact, you can count them. The pattern emerging in nearby Montgomery County is that business is steady or improving in big chains like Ruby Tuesdays, while small independent businesses are taking a hit. In an industry with paper-thin profit margins, those places may eventually have to close—a danger that's not visible if you lump together all bar and restaurant revenues, treating them as a mega-business, rather than a collection of separate businesses.

Mr. Sanchez further states:
It seems fairly clear that, at present, the market mix of smoking and non-smoking establishments is suboptimal: It does not yet fully reflect the public's growing preference for smoke free dining and carousing. If we imagine an inverted-U curve, with the relative proportion of smoking and non-smoking establishments on the X-axis and restaurant revenue (and, presumably, customer satisfaction with the available options) on the Y-axis, it's fair to suppose that, at present, localities that permit smoking are well to the left of the optimum, with the mix biased too heavily in favor of smoke-friendly joints. Smoking bans effectively jump the curve, apparently landing at a higher point far to the right of the optimum.

The problem is that, while the market process seeks to approach that optimum over time, uniform prohibition locks in an extreme, almost certainly suboptimal mix. Ironically, an excellent argument for the repeal of these restrictions is provided by the fact that some bar owners have reported with delight that, contrary to their expectations, business picked up in the wake of the ban. Those businesses now know that, given their clientele, a non-smoking policy is optimal for them. The unlucky losers, the bars whose chimneyesque customers have deserted them, discovered the opposite.

Please read Mr. Sanchez' entire article, then vote yes on 4 and no on 5.


Blogger Jill said...

Thanks, Jason. I know we've done quite the job giving people reasons to vote yes AND vote no. It's up to the voters whose votes get counted now (I'm totally discouraged about that system at the moment, but that's another story).

9:17 AM, November 07, 2006  
Anonymous Adolf Judas said...

The damn Christians are ruining this state. First they try to tell us that we MUST pray to Jesus in school. Then they tell us that we can't smoke our pot or frequent our prostitutes (but THEY can smoke their meth and get "massages" and PM little pages). NOW they tell us we can't freaking play the slots at the race track or smoke there too. DUDE! I MEAN DUDE! WTF!?!

8:53 PM, November 28, 2006  
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