“Listen, this stuff is the best. It’s cool. It’s a rush. It’s fun. And besides,” the man says, lowering his voice into a sincere tone, “do you how many poor people benefit from this? Not just in the US, but all over the world. I mean they get jobs on farms, jobs turning what they grow into powder, jobs driving the trucks, jobs in security protecting it?” the man says, “Unless you use this stuff, they won’t get work. Do you want poor people to be unemployed?
“Well, I don’t know,” says the woman, “do you use it?”
“Well, actually, no,” says the man, “I don’t, not personally. I am working too hard, you know dealing with the money this generates. But you should! You will feel fantastic! It’s a form of entertainment. It’s your right!”
“Well…” says the woman.
“And I tell you what,” the man continues, “if you get started today, I will promise to give some of the money you gave me to the local school so that they can fund some after-school programs for at-risk youth. Would that make it okay? Then you will be having a great time and doing a good thing for other people! And giving people jobs – in South America, in Afghanistan, in the US! This is really a fantastic deal for everyone”
She looks dubious. “But I have just met you – I can’t keep looking for some random person on the bus.”
“Yeah, I know, so I will make that easy for you — in the future I will bring the stuff right to your front door! We want this kind of entertainment to be as convenient as possible.”
The woman hesitates, “Nothing bad can happen?” she asks.
“Nothing,” he says, “you can trust me. For one thing, I am a member of the Democratic party. We stick up for the underdog. Would I lead you astray?”
“I guess not,” she says — and she sticks out her arm. He advances towards her vein with the needle.
What would we do then?
Would we sit back and say nothing? Or would say “hold on, miss, what he has been telling you isn’t true?”
Imagine how much harder it would be to object if the man could say, “hey, back off buddy, it’s legal, my father owns the distribution company, our local school has become addicted to the revenue, and there’s nothing you can do about it.”
Even as we debate our past mistakes or the large issues facing the country, we must not take our eyes of the question of predatory gambling. It goes to the heart of the question of whether we are willing to let other people get ripped off in order to “create jobs” and “fund programs.” This is not an idle question of revenue creation: it is a question of our core values.
Predatory gambling – through slot machines — is DESIGNED to be addictive. You can sell it straight through Cahill’s slot parlors or you can dress it up as “destination casinos,” but 90% of the money is made from 10% of the gamblers. And while some money goes to the state, much, much more goes to privately held companies who care nothing about the values of community about our party.
Check out this video, with its scientific discussion of the brain chemistry of slot machines
Our arm is out. Our tourniquet is on. The legislative needle is advancing. And we are, for the most part, in Massachusetts and in others states sitting there talking about other stuff. We need to pause and express our values against this abuse of our autonomy as citizens.
If you agree with this, PLEASE COME TO THE STATE HOUSE AT 10:30 ON WEDNESDAY AT APRIL 1 FOR A RALLY AGAINST PREDATORY GAMBLING.
The admission of slot machine gambling to a state is, according to the governor’s own report by Spectrum Gaming, an irrevocable decision. It is not something we will be able to review years from now. It must be stopped decisively.
It must be stopped by US.
And It must be stopped NOW.
If you are within 50 miles of here on Wednesday morning, please come.