David Bernstein has an unusually strongly-worded post on his blog regarding the ongoing stalemate over slots at the tracks.
Beacon Hill is jammed up over the question of how to shove money into the state’s four existing race tracks — including its two dog tracks, which are in particular financial trouble. Speaker Bob DeLeo wants the state to give the tracks licenses to install slot machines; Governor Deval Patrick wants instead to dedicate a portion of casino revenues to the tracks, a position that Senate President Therese Murray agrees with, if I’m not mistaken.
Now, I don’t mean to be rude, but what the f&$% is wrong with these people?
We’ve redacted the naughty word in keeping with BMG’s family-friendly front-page policy. 😉
Anyway, he goes on to recall that MA voters voted to ban dog racing by a vote of 56-44, and
they certainly understood, as they cast their vote, that people would lose their jobs as a consequence.
I don’t imagine that many of those voters were thinking: I want to shut down these hellish businesses, but gosh, I hope that the state finds some way to shovel great loads of free money to the people who run them.
This can be very difficult to understand from the point of view of someone who doesn’t see the owners of Raynham Park or Wonderland as ogres profiting off of a despicable business. But most voters — I repeat, voters — clearly do see them that way.
Doesn’t this miss the point? Of course the voters don’t want to send free money to the people who run the dog tracks. But I think Bernstein gives oddly short shrift to the concern voters may well have had for the jobs of the people who work at the tracks.
Basically, nobody wants to throw someone else out of work. So I think what voters did in deciding how to vote on that ballot question is they weighed two evils – dog racing vs. killing jobs – and concluded that dog racing, because of its inherent cruelty to animals who cannot defend themselves and other reasons, was the greater evil. But that surely does not mean that voters didn’t feel bad about the jobs, and would try to save them if they could.
So, the argument might go, why not install slot machines? After all, casino gambling generally, and slot machines specifically, routinely poll well above 50% in this state, even though dog racing lost big at the ballot box. If slot machines can help track workers keep their jobs without bringing back the evil of dog racing, great! Win-win, right?
Wrong, some would say – but IMHO only those who see slot machines as nearly as bad, if not worse, than dog racing. For those who are either agnostic or pro-slots (and the polling suggests that’s a majority of MA residents), slots at the tracks seems to offer a neat solution to a problem that their own vote to abolish dog racing in MA created. I’m not saying I agree. I’m just saying that’s how I’d imagine a lot of people who voted to ban dog racing see it, and that’s why I think Bernstein is wrong.