Massachusetts should reject this false elixir for revenue.
The legislative push to bring casino gambling to Massachusetts
has faltered - for now - but the prospects of what supporters say
would be 15,000 permanent jobs and $355 million in annual state
revenues will be hard for state lawmakers to resist going forward.
Gambling has been the central force dominating Governor Deval
Patrick's agenda since 2007. No matter what happens in November's
election, the issue isn't going away.
Amid a budget shortfall and high unemployment, people see policy
primarily through the lens of money and jobs, as if Mammon is the
only god left to worship. They do not see casinos as lasting
institutions that will dot our landscape - and erode our culture -
If sanctioned, casinos may well claim legitimacy for generations
to come. Should Americans come to think of Massachusetts as a place
where they once played roulette, rather than the place where they
learned about early American history and values at places like Old
Sturbridge Village, Plimoth Plantation, and Boston's Freedom Trail?
Massachusetts is one of the wealthiest and most-educated states
in the country, yet it is still racing to "get in the game"
alongside gambling-friendly neighbors Rhode Island and Connecticut
to pursue a false elixir.
Why should Massachusetts settle its economic troubles by trodding
down the paths of others?
Birthplace of modern democracy
The "shot heard 'round the world" in Concord, Mass., which
ushered in the first battle of the American Revolutionary War, is in
my view the most significant event in Massachusetts history. It
defines Massachusetts eternally as the birthplace of America and
concurrently the birthplace of modern democracy. It follows that
Massachusetts set its own course and did not follow the lead of
other colonies in seeking independence from Britain's tyranny.
The phrase "shot heard 'round the world" was coined by Ralph
Waldo Emerson. One of the most influential American philosophers,
Emerson founded Transcendentalism and offered Henry David Thoreau
his land to build a camp near the shores of Walden Pond in Concord.
Both Emerson and Thoreau would aggressively oppose casinos in
their beloved Commonwealth.
To those who would banter and bray that casinos would create
thousands of good-paying jobs, Thoreau would retort, "Most men would
feel insulted if it were proposed to employ them in throwing stones
over a wall, and then in throwing them back, merely that they might
earn their wages. …