The Governor of Massachusetts, Deval Patrick, has recently come out in favor of casino gambling in our fair Commonwealth, and put forth a proposal for three casino "resorts" to be built in different regions of the state.
I am terribly disappointed in him. So disappointed, I [edit: almost] wish I'd voted Republican. And that, my friends, is a bitter, bitter thing for this pro-choice/pro-gay marriage/environmentalist/equal and civil rights advocate/public education enthusiast to admit.
Those who support the proposal say that casinos mean a whole lotta tax money, which we simply must generate to fix our infrastructure and give our schools a boost. Why not casinos, say they. Gambling isn't the end of civilization. Nobody forces people to gamble, and who are we to moralize about what people do with their money? Isn't it hypocritical to have bingo, the state lottery, etc. but get all prudish about a casino? Lighten up! People are just going down to Connecticut to the casinos there -- why not keep the money in state?
The money, the money, the money. Always and only the money. Our government has smelled cash, and look out, here they come.
Why does this matter to me? Mr. Sandy and I don't gamble. It would be easy to think of casino gambling essentially as a tax on people who either can afford to willingly lose some money, or are (sorry, but let's face it) too stupid not to throw away money they need. Not being either, why should I worry about it further? Let 'em pay. So what. Shrug.
But what moral society taxes its stupid so heavily? The Governor boasts about how much he plans to have us spend on gambling addiction programs, etc., to alleviate the myriad social ills that nobody denies are coming along with the casinos. We'll set up trust funds to take care of all the unpleasantness, won't that be nice? I will be so glad to read about the generous payout to the family of the first shit-for-brains parent who leaves an infant to suffocate in the car while they play just a few hands of $10 blackjack. Yay us!
What's the human cost of all this revenue? I doubt we'll even break even.
Never mind that we ought to be fixing our bridges and roads with the considerable revenue already being generated by income and sales and myriad other taxes. It's not as if Massachusetts citizens are undertaxed.
And speaking of roads, how 'bout we take a higher one, and not put casino projects out to the highest bidder?
Because (have we forgotten?) the casino-in-Massachusetts issue was supposed to be about the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe, now federally recognized as a sovereign nation, getting an exclusive opportunity to better their economic situation by building a casino somewhere in southeastern Massachusetts. To that end, for better or worse, they already have land and a deal in the works in the town of Middleborough. The tribe appears mired in its own serious problems -- their recently resigned longtime leader is a convicted rapist, among other things, and IRS and FBI agents have come a'calling with questions about certain "fiscal irregularities" -- but all that aside (!), it was supposed to be their opportunity. Not Deval Patrick's.
But Wampanoag, schwampanoag. Let's have three ca$ino$! Let's put 'em out to bid! Think of the roads we'll fix, and nobody will ask why it couldn't have been done without Ballys in the Berkshires, or whatever friggin' monstrosity we end up with.
Are casinos really the best our state can do? Is this the best and highest use of our land, our labor? I truly don't think so, but I wouldn't bet on this government looking for another way. Brace yourselves for the newspaper accounts of dead babies in parking lots. Dice roll in 2012 or so. Will it be worth it?