Law Politics

Florida Outlaws Computers?

Oftentimes people get involved in politics for very good, well-meaning reasons. Some people believe strongly in social justice and feel that they could help to support a culture of humanity within a corrupt system. Others see pain and misery on the faces of our poorest and know that if they had any say in the matter they could help to correct the problems created by poverty. Perhaps a politician is driven by a desire to safeguard the civil rights of certain minority groups in the population and will stop at nothing to ensure that that group is protected. However, politicians good intentions often lead to government blunders like the above  headline: Florida outlaws computers? Sounds like another government success.

As bad as many of our politicians seem to be, quite a number of them believe themselves to be working for the good of others. Their problem is that they have become blinded to the realities that in life, every decision has consequences, that every action causes a reaction. So, for example, when you raise the minimum wage so that your poorest workers are making more – you either also artificially raise prices on the cheapest goods, which our minimum wage workers consume the most. Or, you force business to cut the hours of our minimum wage earners – who can’t afford to have their hours cut. It’s a vicious cycle.

It seems a similar situation has unfolded in Florida. The problem began after Florida banned “slot-machines” several years ago. Technology has progressed, and some gambling cafes were operating using computers as the gambling method, taking advantage of a loophole in the law.

To close this loophole state legislators got together and hastily crafted a law that would make computer slot machines illegal as well. Here’s a short summary of the problem from CNN:

“Florida’s new, expanded definition of a slot machine includes “any machine or device or system or network of devices” used to play games of chance or skill, which can be activated by not just inserting money, but an “account number, code, or other object or information.”

So any computer, smart phone, or device that is capable of accessing the Internet has just become illegal.

The lawyer for the defense sees another problem with the law as it stands,:

“The law is unconstitutional because of an amendment that presumes a device is a slot machine if ‘it is used to display images of games of chance’ and involves a payout of anything of value… ‘Here the burden is shifted… It’s saying you are presumed to be guilty, now prove to us this really wasn’t a slot machine.”

internetcafe2More than 1,000 internet cafés have already been shuttered, and arcades and other businesses with standalone gaming machines have felt the brunt of the law. However, if the defense is right, every Floridian had also better watch their internet step because they could unwittingly be breaking Florida laws.

Our legislators oftentimes act in what they believe to be the best interests of the population, but as the old saying goes, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. In attempting to “protect” Florida from the vice of gambling (or in an attempt to allow the Native American casinos and the government a monopoly on gambling), the legislature may have just banned all devices with Internet connectivity. This is what happens when politicians rush to legislate. Anyone remember Obamacare? Same basic problem.

Failures like this happen all too often where the government is involved.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by EagleRising.com


About the author

Onan Coca

Onan is the Editor-in-Chief at Liberty Alliance media group. He's also the managing editor at Eaglerising.com, Constitution.com and the managing partner at iPatriot.com. You can read more of his writing at Eagle Rising.
Onan is a graduate of Liberty University (2003) and earned his M.Ed. at Western Governors University in 2012. Onan lives in Atlanta with his wife and their three wonderful children.

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