Casinos Fart Rainbows

Posted on September 15, 2011

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The Gambling Industry is a Leprechaun and yesterday Massachusetts House of Representatives agreed to chase the pot of gold.   The House has paved the way for three regional gambling parlors like Mohegan Sun in nearby Connecticut and at least one slot-machine parlor to operate in Massachusetts.  Although our governor vetoed the chase for the pot of gold last year, he changed his mind and stands ready to support it this year.  What changed for him?  Like so many other leaders unable to find some middle ground between increased taxes and decreased spending, our leaders see $300 billion in easy money that can be raised by simply saying “yes” to the Leprechaun.   They say it will offer thousands of jobs.  They say Massachusetts residents are taking their gambling cash to Connecticut and we are losing-out, so this bill will keep the money local.  They have devised a way to minimize the impact on other entertainment venues which will certainly lose major acts and also revenue–the state will offset some of the lost revenue.   Gambling is a rainbow for a state that is weary of job losses and public service cuts.  “Thank you, Mr. Leprechaun, oh thank you!”

I lived in Shreveport, Louisiana and in Joliet, Illinois both before and after the gambling emerged.  Both towns were economically depressed and both towns DID see increased revenue from Casino giants Harrah’s and Empress among others.  As far as job creation goes, Joliet’s deal with the gambling industry is considered  a success.  All manufacturing jobs had evaporated and all that the city was known for was the Stateville Prison made famous by the Blue’s Brothers.  Now Joliet is a gaming destination about an hour from Chicago.  Money is rolling in both to Joliet and Shreveport.  I am reminded of the musical “Evita” when Che Guevara sings “When the money keeps rolling-in you don’t ask how–think of all the people gonna see a good time now!”

I think the “how” matters.  The way we go about it matters.

In churches where I was pastor there was often talk of economic desperation and a good-hearted soul invariably suggested we try a proven income stream–maybe we sell beer in addition to the hotdogs; or maybe we auction a quilt in addition to selling crafts.  In those conversations I always felt like the Vegan in the steakhouse when I explained that the way we raise money sets important, harmful, precedent.   I don’t want to endorse and contribute to two practices which enslave people–alcohol and gambling addiction.   Granted I was a pastor and we were an organization striving to lead people toward wholeness in body, mind and soul. But the principle still seems applicable in other organizations.  I don’t want our middle schools to sell beer-of-the-month subscriptions no matter how much the PTA needs for school computers. And I don’t want our schools funded by casino dollars (the government will spend no MORE money on schools, they will simply send “casino money” to schools in a political show and divert public tax revenue toward other less exciting expenditures).

The way we go about it matters.

Massachusetts in one of only a handful of states that allows for numerous sessions closed to public scrutiny.  This deal between the Speaker of the House (whose has a vested interest in the vote because his district lost a greyhound dog racing park (Hallelujah!) a few years back and some people miss that easy money and can smell it in the air now–you know, the smell of rainbow fart) and governor Patrick was conceived in “committee” which was sheltered from public view.  The issue is in public view now, but there is not time for public debate, by design.  Once this thing is approved by Senate it will go back into a private committee where they will decide which cities will “receive” the golden buckets.  The bucket will fall directly on local infrastructure bringing not only jobs but also that vacuuming sound that we heard when the Joliet and Shreveport communities lost hotels, restaurants, parking, jobs (and many of the casino hires were not local) and integrity.  I can say with a straight face that gambling sucks.  Or that it blows:  Rainbow farts.

People don’t realize that Worcester, MA is actually the seat of American Revolution.  It was here in 1774 that regular citizens organized against one of the Intolerable Acts called “The Massachusetts Government Act” which stripped away public discourse handing it to elite rulers.  The Red Coats ultimately marched on Lexington to seize munitions–the shot heard ’round the world–but they tried to come to Worcester first.   I don’t need any more “Tea Party” rhetoric.  It is time for some “Intolerable Acts” activism.  I am pleased that my own local congressional representative did NOT vote in favor of the bill.  I am also pleased that a Facebook group exists offering some background on how we got to this point and what we can still do to stop it (United To Stop Slots in Massachusetts).

The name “Rainbow Warrior” has already been taken by the fine people of Greenpeace.  This summer they launched their newest ship the Rainbow Warrior III!  So we can’t address Rainbow Farts as Rainbow Warriors.  Any other suggestions out there?

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Posted in: Fund-Raising