Massavegas: Governor Patrick Takes A Gamble, Proposes Casinoing Massachusetts

Today’s Globe headlines Governor Deval Patrick’s plan to create at least three casinos in three sections of the state. Bravo for him. He proposes the revenues go to repairing bridges and roads, and providing property tax relief for beleaguered homeowners.

Of course the naysayers are crawling out of the woodwork.

The moralists object on the grounds, usually, that their god says gaming is a no-no. That’s pretty much all they’ve got. But until they can get their various gods to sit down and present their own arguments, they haven’t got a leg to stand on. Really, who appointed them to speak for whatever god they represent? And do we want to take as foundations for public policy the word of people who talk with invisible supernaturals?

Then there’s the crime crowd. Gambling brings in a criminal element, they say. No. Money brings those guys. But if you know they’re coming and how they operate and you put in place solid regulatory and enforcement operations, they’re not going to be a problem. Drunks will be a bigger problem.

And finally there are those whose hearts bleed for the gambling addicts. Casinos create problem gamblers, they say, so we shouldn’t have casinos. Okay, alcohol creates alcohol addicts. Ban alcohol. Drugs create drug addicts. Ban drugs. Cigarettes create nicotine addicts. Ban cigarettes. Sex creates sex addicts. Ban sex. Those all worked out well, didn’t they?

If a person has an addiction, it’s up to the person and his family to deal with it. The state can offer counseling services, but if someone’s headed down the path of self-destruction, you can’t do more than hold out a hand. His choice to take it or not.

Now if the state would offer really good, solid services, that would seriously  mitigate the problem. But the state never does. It chronically underfunds social services. Why? Because we live in a culture that still doesn’t see the value in helping people, that still operates on a set of values inherited from cultures just coming out of the Stone Age or one of the Early Metal ages. Whatever. We still have a significant element in American society that essentially believes in stoning people to death for so-called sins. The modern stone is simply to withhold help from those fallen from grace.

Ah, and there is another group, those of the regressive taxation syndrome. All gambling is regressive taxation because it falls on those least able to pay.

Nonsense. It falls on everybody who wants to play poker or blackjack or roulette or craps or slots. Rich people. Poor people. The few people left in the middle. Nobody’s forcing anyone to gamble.

And these naysayers seem also to be the ones who don’t want the state to raise income taxes. And when they win that battle and sit smugly smiling over their victory, the rest of us have to bear increased property taxes, increased fees, and reduced services.

Where in hell do they think the money to run the state is going to come from? If they don’t want taxes to go up the money has to come from somewhere.

Many of these jokers would be happy for there to be no taxes. Okay. All those who don’t want to pay any taxes, including various government fees, which are a tax, are exempt. However, you cannot send your children to public schools. You cannot use the public roads. You cannot call on the police or fire departments to help you. You cannot collect government pensions or social security or qualify for Medicare or Medicaid. You cannot drive cars. You cannot buy gas or oil. You cannot use any government service. You get what you pay for.

It’s unfortunate that what taxpayers pay for in this country is of such poor quality. But then if you want all your taxes to go for a huge, bloated, ineffective military establishment; if you want to spend your money on an endless, useless war promulgated by, but not supported by, rich Republicans; if you want to have to pay for the taxes that the rich no longer contribute to society under the Republicans; if you want to pay for schools that do little better than teach your kids to takes tests; if all of that and similar failures are your idea of value in America, then you’re welcome to it.

So, casinos. Can’t run a state without money. Can’t pry it out of people if you call it taxes. But people will pay for entertainment and for a chance to make some money, so what the hell – bring on the casinos. And can we have some dancing girls too?

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