More Mail Scams

I got a nice postcard in the mail today. It came from:

Dealership Warranties
12131 Dorsett Rd., #106
Maryland Heights, MO 63043

It had "VEHICLE SERVICE NOTIFICATION" splashed across the top in bold, capitalized text. Below it informed me:

This notification is to inform you that your factory warranty has expired or is about to expire. To avoid the high cost of automobile repairs, call us immediately with your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) and exact miles to renew.

Now this isn't exactly a scam. But it is certainly deceptive. The last sentence suggests that I can "renew" my warranty. But they want my VIN and mileage. An actual warranty holder would already know the first part, and any service appointments with a dealership would record the second part.

The phone number included with this mail is: 1-866-533-9966. A Google search for this number shows quite a few more instances of this dubious sales practice.


Maryland Slots

This coming November there will be a referendum on the ballot about whether or not to allow slots machines at horse racing tracks around the state of Maryland. I'll just state from the beginning that I'm opposed to the idea. It seems like there are a couple of arguments one might use against slots.

Social Cost Argument

There are all kinds of studies about what gambling does to a community. Gambling addiction overwhelmingly affects the lower income brackets. In other words, those who can least afford to gamble do it the most, and do it to excess. Apparently there are provisions in the Maryland proposal to use some of the income for increased policing around the slots areas. Its like they're admitting that it'll create problems.

I'm also annoyed by the "stupidity tax" argument for slots. If its true that those who can't afford to gamble do it more then that just increases the future costs for unemployment, food stamps, and any number of other social programs to support those people. So the tax is actually on those who advocate letting poor people gamble their money away. In a way I guess it is a "stupidity tax", but on who?

Money for Education

The way a lot of slots proponents advocate their goal is to sell it as income for education. Well, that's obviously ignoring the fact that a lot of companies are going to first turn a profit on the gambling before turning over some of the money to the state.

The fact of the matter is that if we really do need more money for education, which usually seems to be the case, then the cheaper and more equitable solution is to increase taxes. Taxes can be tailored to spread the financial cost across the economic spectrum. Creating companies that are creating profits for themselves first doesn't seem to be the most efficient solution.

Save the Horsies

Apparently the horse racing industry is falling on hard times. Allowing slot machines on the premises will increase the income to these establishments and allow racing to continue.

So, let me get this straight... There's a failing industry, and we're all supposed to chip in to help it survive? That smacks more of socialism than capitalism. Ayn Rand would give a big, "I told you so," to that.

Losing Money to Those "Other" States

There are slot machines in neighboring West Virginia and Delaware. Some people think that we're "losing" money to these states, and that somehow by having our own slot machines we'll be able to keep it local.

This goes back to the social cost argument. The richest people are playing slot machines, so really how much money are we losing out on? And the, "everyone else is doing it argument," is morally dubious at best, and flat out juvenile at worst.


Digg A Hole, Then Crap in It

The meta-news site, Digg, garnered a lot of attention a while ago. It was hailed as the second coming of the Internet. The concept was that you, citizen journalist, can "Digg" up news stories and post them online to be democratically voted up or down. The steam turd of a buzzword for this is, "user-generated content". Well, having "yes" or "no" buttons on a web site hardly equates to democracy. I haven't visited Digg very often anymore. Maybe twice a year. But every time I'm astounded by the fact that the site is so blatantly slanted to the liberal bent. I'm talking like beyond Marx himself here! It's so bad that I find the site to be completely irrelevant anymore aside from being a soapbox for every blowhard and political pundit wannabe.