Notes on the state of things

Notes on the state of things

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board reports that the commonwealth’s 16 casinos generated a record-breaking $5.2 billion dollars in revenue in 2022.

And to its immense credit, the Post-Gazette puts that money in the exact proper context, in the third line of the story:

“The revenue represents the money gamblers lost,” writes reporter Mark Belko.

It’s wise to remember this amid all the hoopla about how great gambling is for the economy and the state’s tax coffers which, by the way, posted record gambling receipts of $2.1 billion in 2022.

Indeed, it is the sole prerogative of each person to decide if they gamble, where and when they do so and how much of their money they choose to throw away. And, in the process, feed the Leviathan that is “The State.”

But non-betting folks that we usually are, we’d rather prescribe to a more conservative fiscal philosophy, as detailed by Kin Hubbard, the noted cartoonist, humorist and journalist of the late 19th and early 20th century:

“The safest way to double your money is to fold it over once and put it in your pocket.”

The P-G’s Belko also reports that some “companies are taking advantage of a pandemic-fueled buyers’ market to upgrade their office space” in Pittsburgh. “But they are taking less of it.”

He cites a new report by the Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) real estate firm that “offered a sobering assessment of the office situation Downtown,” whose occupancy rate has been sucking for air since well before the coronavirus pandemic.

The JLL report also mentions the growing trend of turning office buildings now being underutilized into apartments, part of an effort to add life to moribund downtowns.

“While not always economically viable, the buildings that are converted provide the opportunity to make Downtown a more vibrant neighborhood,” JLL says.

And Belko reminds that the “city is rolling out an initiative, backed by $9 million in funding, to convert older Downtown office buildings to affordable housing.”

But that’s not up to taxpayers to help make such a thing happen. If there’s truly a market for such conversions, then there’s a profit potential for those buildings’ owners.

As we’ve long admonished, taxpayers should never be treated as any developer’s venture capitalists for capital costs those developers alone should bear.

That such a practice long has been commonplace is a pox on sound public policy. State-sponsored thievery always is.

Colin McNickle is communications and marketing director at the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy (