Mr. President, there’s nothing wrong with visiting Vegas

For the second time, President Barack Obama has criticized the city of Las Vegas and people who want to visit the city and contribute to its economy. This time, the president said that people saving money for college shouldn’t blow their money on gambling in Vegas. After a firestorm from local politicians and businesses, Obama sent a letter to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who represents Nevada, saying that his comment was taken out of context.

This wasn’t the first time that the president has accused people of wasting their money by going to Sin City. Last February, he chastised companies who took bail-out money for taking trips to Vegas. Not being a businessman, of course, Obama doesn’t seem to realize that companies need to spend money to make money and that expensive junkets and other business trips are necessary for getting new clients and keeping old ones. He also doesn’t seem to grasp that in a struggling economy, you should never tell people not to spend money. Telling people to basically put their money under their mattress is bad for the country’s economy and especially for the economy of Las Vegas.

While the country-wide unemployment rate is 10% (which is a kind estimate that doesn’t count those with part-time jobs or those who have given up looking for work), the rate in Nevada is 13%. Las Vegas’ tourism industry is hurting because people are saving their money and not going on vacations to Sin City. Now the President of the United States is flat-out telling people not to spend their money there.

Here’s my take on visiting Vegas. It’s not for everyone. It never has been. You need a certain amount of disposable income to hit the casinos and play at the blackjack tables. I always tell people that when it comes to gambling, you should never wager money that you can’t afford to lose. Therefore, if losing an amount of money in Vegas would cause a hardship for you, don’t bet that money, because if you do, you might lose it.

However, if you have enough disposable income to do so, there is nothing wrong with going to the casinos and spending your money. Not only that, but it’s a good thing for the economy – not only Nevada’s economy, but the whole country. Consumers spending money (wisely) is an important part of capitalism. Of course you shouldn’t gamble money that you set aside for college. However, if you can afford to go on vacation and spend a little money, why not do it at Vegas? Doing so is not only fun, but it helps a state that is in dire straits.

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