If there is a figure that represents the idea of an economy out of balance, that character is the gambler. The gambler is someone who must satisfy his passions instantly, regardless of the consequences. He is frenetically intemperate to the point of disregarding reality.
Matthew Crawford in his book, The World Beyond Your Head, gives a startling report on what happens in the gambler’s world and how the gambling establishment cultivates intemperate behaviors.
He reports that gamblers will frequently stand eight or even twelve hours at a time in front of a slot machine. They will stay even to the point of developing blood clots or other serious conditions. He writes:
“Paramedics in Las Vegas dread getting calls from casinos, which usually turn out to be heart attacks. The problem is that when someone collapses, the other gamblers won’t get out of the way to let the paramedics do their job; they won’t leave their machines. Deafening fire alarms are similarly ignored; there have been incidents when rising flood waters didn’t dislodge them.”
In addition, the gambling establishments do everything possible to keep gamblers on the casino floor, even employing technology to track behavior. Crawford reports that some casinos have facial recognition software that records the habits of frequent gamblers. When such a gambler heads for exits, his favorite slot machines will call out his name asking him to return.