He includes the important observation that there is a
growing recognition that state-sponsored casino gambling is incompatible with constitutional democracy itself. This argument is being championed by eminent historian of the civil rights movement Taylor Branch, who says that raising revenue via state-supported gambling addiction is a betrayal of the citizens and an avoidance of critical questions about our democracy: what do we want our government to do and how are we going to pay for it? “State-sponsored predatory gambling is essentially a corruption of democracy,” he said recently.
Taylor Branch won the Pulitzer Prize for writing about Martin Luther King, who said
“On the one hand, we are called to play the Good Samaritan on life’s roadside, but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho Road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life’s highway.
I like to think that the Democratic Party, which was once the party of slaveholders, will forever remain the party of Dr. King, not Col. Sanders.
While casinos are touted as revenue producers, they are merely revenue redistributors, moving entertainment and dining dollars from the local community to the casino. Casinos don’t really create revenue. This is no panacea for our revenue problems in Massachusetts.
p>What casinos do create are a lot of headaches for the communities that host them….the costs in terms of extra police, fire, EMS, and the impact on the infrastructure are significant. The impact on families with people who are susceptible to gambling addiction is enormous….which adds yet more people to an already overtaxed welfare system. And yes, I am aware that no one holds a gun to their heads and makes them gamble…but this state was quick to outlaw smoking in public establishments in the name of public health. Why not recognize that gambling falls into the same sphere of public concern?
p>I don’t see a solid cost/benefit to allowing casinos into Massachusetts. The costs far outweigh the gains.
I didn’t realize it until I was well into researching this story that predagory gambling is indeed, as you put it so well, the sleeper social justice issue of our time.
p>Some pols are going to be quite shocked to find that they are on the wrong side of history — just as the tide is turning.
Thanks, Fred. Your piece is really excellent. For those who haven’t had the chance to read it, you can find it here
p>And those who of us who still support Deval Patrick are pained to read Laura Everett’s clear-eyed and accurate statement at the end of this strong section of Fred’s piece.
I’m taken with Bob’s image of Col. Sanders making a public-minded pitch to a bunch of chickens.
p>Nice piece of writing.