Because if he did, he’d wave off “destination casinos” simply as a political frame (the term polls significantly better than “slots at the racetracks”) and say this debate is about slot machines which make up 80% of casino gambling profits. Then he’d ask why would the state promote slots, which in the words of MIT Professor Natasha Schull, are designed to be so effective at extracting money from people it is “a product that, for all intents and purposes, approaches every player as a potential addict — in other words, someone who won’t stop playing until his or her means are depleted”?
Oakes also knows very little about the central role predatory gambling plays in America’s debt culture because if he did, he would ask why in these difficult economic times is government actively promoting products that encourage people to get into more debt rather than helping them save money, like it did during the Great Depression, so they can accumulate the capital they need to live the real American Dream?
And lastly, Oakes has not considered how predatory gambling squares with America’s core democratic principles because if he did, he’d ask the question how can a country where everyone is considered equal allow its government to actively promote a product that renders some of our fellow citizens as expendable in the name of getting someone else to pay our taxes?
An interview with these questions might add a spike to this week’s WBUR fundraising drive. It would also significantly elevate the public understanding about an issue that defines who we are as a people because it betrays the ideal of the American Promise, a central theme of President Obama’s campaign poignantly captured here: