Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Breaking News: 4,000 Year Old Desiccated Egyptian Mummy and King Midas Explain How Gambling Can Save Humanity

When I first saw the enthusiastic Foxboro casino protesters on TV, the scene was so hauntingly familiar that I couldn't help but be reminded of the sign beside my front door.  It reads, "Welcome Friends".

I then made the following prediction:

This is their one day.

After that, they will be ignored by the media, which will focus only on the much more glamorous (albeit withered, sundried and botoxed) casino players (in this case Steve Wynn and Bob Kraft) and search out the most vocal folks in town who do want a casino - so as to create an exciting sense of conflict.

Then there will be talk of how much money the town can get.  Yay!  Money!  Who doesn't like money?!

And the excitement!  Newscasters will gush about the possibilities.  Every news outlet will create it's own clever attention-getting 'Foxboro Casino' graphic.

Then there will wild projections about how many jobs will be created.  How a casino will fit right into the community, provide the very manna from Heaven, and assurances that any potential negative effects, no matter how slim the possibility thereof, can be successfully mitigated by that supreme global humanitarian organization - the gambling industry.

The protesters will be quietly and progressively painted as anti-community and worse, anti-job creation.  They are moralists, while casino proponents are realists.  They will be reminded that a majority of Massachusetts residents approve of casinos, though no one will mention that this statistic is reversed when people are asked if they would approve of a casino in their own town.

But besides, it's not like we don't already have gambling here anyway.

Protesters will be accused of being hypocrites because they don't also use their limited resources to protest the lottery.

They will be forced to come up with solid numbers to defend every possible criticism, while their counterparts need only keep saying the words 'jobs' and 'money' to anyone who'll listen.

They will endure personal attacks by neighbors who mistakenly believe the gambling industry actually needs their help.

It will only be a matter of time before a guy named Clyde Barrow slithers into town, pretending to be neutral, but presenting inflated figures of the billions Foxboro can 'recapture' from Connecticut and Rhode Island, all  painstakenly gathered by counting licence plates on holiday weekends in casino parking lots.

At some point there will be some sort of scandal, perhaps even a criminal charge, but no matter, 'tis only a flesh wound, and the project will barrel on in spite of it.

Back in town, decision makers and local power brokers will be the recipients of vague promises whispered in their ears, and soon, headlines will tout that Foxboro is actually in favor of a casino.

By the time it comes down to a vote, the gambling industry will have quietly dropped so much of it's own manna from heaven in the form of propaganda that it will be difficult to cross the street without tripping over it.

The community will be torn in two.  Just like it was in Middleboro.

When it's over, the original protesters will still have their signs, ignored now by the TV cameras, and, tucked under their belts, the sad experience of knowing what it feels like to have a Governor, State Legislature, Attorney General, media and a once-kindly corporate benefactor pretend you don't exist.

And of attempting to participate in a democracy that only serves itself.

Gosh I hope I'm wrong.

Except... on the day of the protest the media did find one woman to say she didn't mind gambling so much.  That it would bring money to the town.  And besides, if you go to the schools and churches, you're gonna find it anyway.

Yes, of course, because church bingo is EXACTLY the same as a multibillion dollar predatory industry that buys political access, employs deceptive digital and ergonomic technology to reap the majority of it's profits, and can, with a single swipe of your credit card, gain access to your entire financial portfolio, then send over a free drink to encourage you to lose it.

The next day on TV they were interviewing some rosy-cheeked football spectators outside Gillette stadium for their point of view, which ranged from delighted to jubilant over the prospect of a free-drink-selling slice of Las Vegas a mere footbridge away.

There was no mention whether or not these folks were actually residents of Foxboro or nearby towns.

Then came the nauseating interview with Kraft and Wynn, elaborating on their plans to save the world through the fabulous, painless, odorless, risk-free, God-ordained gift of gambling.

They promised that the new casino wouldn't be one of those garish, neon-spattered monoliths you can find on the strip in Vegas, but more on the lines of an unobtrusive, cuddly, gentle little casino, nestled in the woodsy heart of the deepest forest where an Ewok might feel at home.

Or perhaps not unlike the gingerbread covered cottage stumbled upon by Hansel and Gretel.

Ah, another town, another poor bunch of folks getting steamrolled by promises, lies, ignorance, greed and neglect.

Just another day in Casino World, where it's all downhill from there.

Welcome Friends.


Anonymous said...

There's an online article which features comments by Rep. Daniel B. Winslow (Norfolk) basically saying how concerned he is for the Foxboro folks and the "process". Geez that's funny he voted yes on the Bill. What did he expect was going to happen when the beast was unleashed. Massachusetts has officially been murdered.

Gladys Kravitz said...

Ah yes, the ignorance defense. Waking up after a Kool-Aid kegger. We'll see more of that in the days ahead.

As for Mass. being murdered, I think that moment came for me when, after Mashpee Wampanoag chairman Glenn Marshall got indicted (in August of 2007 and only a month after the Middleboro town vote), Deval Patrick decided a few weeks later that gambling expansion was still a good idea.

I mean, what better proof that casino greed causes corruption, only to have it totally ignored by a Governor who promised to 'lift the Commonwealth.' Nauseating.

Thanks for writing, and hang in there. Fighting a casino doesn't mean you won't get a casino, but not fighting one means you almost certainly will. And worse.

MiddleboroRemembers said...

Kudos and well done as always!

What most Massachusetts residents don't yet understand is that their community is next.

When the phony revenue claims fail to appear and the bogus job creation numbers never arrive, there will be continuous cries for EXPANSION! EXPANSION! EXPANSION!

If this were a truly transparent process, maybe they should have included job guarantees in the legislation to justify the phony 15,000 number - each Slot Barn mandated to employ 5,000 union paid employees.

The Lottery that began as a small endeavor gradually expanded and expanded until you can't venture into a small local restaurant, Elks Club or numerous other places without being bombarded by Lottery broadcasts and KENO.

What a sorry bunch that would promote this as 'job creation'!

Anonymous said...

Mary, will you please write blog on the average annual salary of a casino worker vs. how many hours worked per week. I Googled that very question and found that the average casino employee(Iowa) makes $12,000-$16,000 plus tips. This includes dealers. Casino floor mgmt make an average of $40,000-$70,000. Also found that 45% the work force at casinos are part time employees and that employees tend to be transitory. Let's kill support for casino's with cold hard facts instead of opinions! Keep casinos in the cities, leave the rural area's alone. This is a reaction to Mr Wynn stating that his employees will make an average of $40K annually. JOBS! JOBS! JOBS!

Gladys Kravitz said...

Anon, I think you did just blog on it! Good work!

First however, a correction. Casinos aren't better in cities. Casinos create problems wherever they go. Just different problems. They are no better off in Atlantic City, Detroit (3 casinos!) or Niagra Falls.

But perhaps the worst of it all is, the gambling industry, with their deep pockets and lobbyists corrupt our government to the core. This year's gambling legislation only makes life worse for all citizens of the Commonwealth. I've watched it first hand.

About Jobs...
this is from USS-Mass:

Job estimates do not match reality.
Much of the new gambling revenue will simply be transferred from other sectors, not created, and will therefore drain millions of consumer dollars from our economy and transfer consumer dollars into gambling facilities, resulting in a net decrease in jobs in the overall economy.

(Kindt, John W. Diminishing or Negating the Multiplier Effect: The Transfer of Consumer Dollars to Legalized Gambling: Should a Negative Socioeconomic "Crime Multiplier" be Included in Gambling Cost/Benefit Analyses?. 2003. Pgs. 281-313.)

Communities need jobs that actually pay well.
Despite what casino executives promote, many of the jobs in casinos pay very little. The wage data they cite is skewed by high executive pay.

(Kneale, Klause. "America's Best and Worst Paying Jobs." Forbes. May 4, 2009.)

Casino workers often can't afford to live in the communities where they work.
Card dealers earn on average $15,810 per year - not nearly enough to support a family in most Massachusetts communities. A family of two with an income of $15,810 is income eligible for Food Stamps, WIC, Fuel Assistance, Utility Shutoff Protection, MassHealth, Section 8, Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program, Public Housing, and the Earned Income Credit - all of which costs Massachusetts taxpayers money. Some communities around the Connecticut casinos experience a phenomenon known as 'hot bunking'. Because of the lack of affordable housing, single family homes are converted into multi-housing units resulting in numerous housing and safety violations.

(US Department of Labor. "May 2008 National Industry-Specific Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates - Casino Hotels." http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/naics5_721120.htm.)

Casinos can cause a strain on public schools.
In Connecticut, low casino wages resulted in the importation of labor, requiring schools in at least one community to provide ESL courses to a high numbers of second-language who spoke as many as 32 different languages. In addition, schools were required to provide remedial work, tutors, free lunches, nursing, and other special education services, while receiving no additional property taxes to offset the costs.