Ever since props 94, 95, 96, and 97 became the center of voting ads in California I have debated blogging about them. But other voices gave me the push to put this in writing. I think expanding gaming is a bad idea. I know that there are many proponents of gaming on the reservation because "it allows the tribe(s) to be more self-sufficient", but self-sufficient or not, I don't think gambling is the way to go. While there are folks who make a fortune, or at least enough to believe it's worth it, more folks lose money than gain it. What the proof? Try the fact that casinos would even have millions, or billions of dollars to give to the state. That money's coming from somewhere, and it isn't growing on trees!
One of the more inflammatory ads I saw, or at least the one that got my goat, was the one that claimed that the expansions were good because it would give so much back to California "AT NO COST TO ANYONE". What a bunch of hooey. Seriously. This may not be a tax increase, but for lots of folks, those who lose, they might even lose/give more to the state by their gambling losses than they would with an additional tax. So if you're a gambler, you are in essence paying for these "donations" to the state and it comes at a cost to you!
And while the UMC may sit on the fence on a large variety of issues, gambling isn't one of them. Paragraph 163 of the Book of Discipline says this:
Gambling is a menace to society, deadly to the best interests of moral, social, economic, and spiritual life, and destructive of good government. As an act of faith and concern, Christians should abstain from gambling and should strive to minister to those victimized by the practice. Where gambling has become addictive, the Church will encourage such individuals to receive therapeutic assistance so that the individual’s energies may be redirected into positive and constructive ends. The Church should promote standards and personal lifestyles that would make unnecessary and undesirable the resort to commercial gambling-including public lotteries-as a recreation, as an escape, or as a means of producing public revenue or funds for support of charities or government.
I think part of my anger about this issue is that there seems to be a fear conspiracy happening at the same time. This legislation was proposed back with the fall elections and I'm not sure what exactly happened, whether it passed and a petition was signed that withdrew it to send to the public or how all that worked (I do know there was a petition), but there wasn't much said about it, only that it would produce $9billion for the state of California. But then, all of the sudden we're $14billion in the hole and we're going to have to do a 10% cut across the board, including $300 per child from education, and releasing 25,000 non-violent inmates. So now there's an epidemic of fear--about the "criminals on the loose", the children without education, lack of firefighters and law enforcement, and all the rest, and then wait....Here comes the knight in shining armor--the Indian gaming propositions--they will save the day!
It's all too coincidental for my tastes. And VERY short-sighted. There's little to no discussion about the long term ramifications for increased gaming, or the quick cuts across the board, or the fact that we can't fix a $14billion deficit in a day (I mean, can you really tell me it's a surprise? Gray Davis was kicked out office because of the major deficit and then Arnie came in and had things seemingly set right right away, and then a few years down the line, we're back to the shortfall....were we really so naive as to think that money just appeared and paid our debts and fixed our problems?!?)
I know this is all a bit ranty, but really, GAMING IS NOT A GOOD IDEA. VOTE NO! Force our politicians to develop a real plan. Save people from major debt and loss. (I think one of the more devastating images for me was when we went to a buffet at a local casino. To get to the restaurant you have to pass all the slots, of course, and people have these money cards now...which you insert into the machine instead of coins. But the thing of it is, they are on a bungee cord type thing so people don't lose the card or walk away without it, but the image is that people are literally chained to the machines. To me that is the ultimate metaphor for gambling--people become chained to the machine, like a drone, just washing money down the drain one lever or button at a time).