As the first-in-the-nation presidential primary comes to a head here in New Hampshire, I keep reflecting on Donald Trump’s “business” as a casino owner. The gaming industry is, after all, a con game. And it’s based on taking money from losers. (I’ll spare you the religious and ethical and personal finance reasons for avoiding gambling, this round.) The fact remains that when it comes to lotteries and casinos, losers far outweigh winners. If it only stopped there …

Listen to the interviews from the folks flocking to his rallies, though, and you’re likely to apply the “losers” label to them, too — not that I’m blaming the general economy on them, they’re just hurting from its consequences. No, Bernie Sanders has been telling that reality like it is — take aim at the hedge-fund operators, not illegal workers, if you’re looking for a source of trouble. I share their sense of desperation, but I believe it can also be channeled into meaningful change. (I’ll spare you the economics lesson, at the moment.)

Now that the Iowa caucuses are in, another factoid keeps bouncing around in my head. Jeb Bush spent $2,800 for every vote he received there. And he dares claim he can control government spending? How many retirees are living on less in a month? More than he’d ever guess. For that matter, it’s more than the monthly earnings of a full-time worker if Bernie manages to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Think about that! Jeb says America can’t afford it! Given to non-profits, that money could have made a big difference in individuals’ lives. Think of children who could use dental work  or homeless veterans. Well, somebody’s taking the dough to produce the attacks that arrive daily in our mail or the commercials filling the airwaves. Just how much is Jeb going to ramp up his spending as he gets desperate?

Traditionally, the value of the New Hampshire primary has been that it gives candidates who don’t have huge bankrolls and opportunity to be heard and considered. I’m hoping that function comes to the rescue once again. We’ll know it a week. In the meantime, things here are likely to be quite the whirlwind, even with all that big money.



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