THE BIGGEST COMPULSIVE GAMBLER
Proverbs 28: 22 says, �He that hasteth to be rich hath an evil eye, and considereth not that poverty shall come upon him.�
This verse has always been my main objection to gambling. While I don�t have a problem with someone who can afford to lose a few bucks gambling for entertainment, this is not often the case. In most cases, gamblers are hoping for quick riches and to escape having to be responsible by working, saving, and investing wisely. They want the good things in life without the pain of effort.
The gambler seeks to fulfill his fantasies of abundance with the big win. (They always have big dreams and aspirations about all the �good� they can do with their winnings, don�t they?) As they descend into more and more debt (as they usually do), they think the big win will at least balance the books. Yet, even when (and if) there is a big win, it does not satisfy. It will only validate to the gambler that this is the best way for him to get ahead. In fact, the few times they do win, they imagine they are making headway against their money problems � though, most often, they will �celebrate� their victory by squandering it on their dream projects instead of taking care of serious debt.
Compulsive gambling is progressive. It starts with small, nickel-and-dime bets and proceeds to larger bets with more and more kinds of wagering. As the Proverb says, poverty will come upon him as a result.
So, who is the biggest gambling addict? Government.
Think about it: Government is the biggest gambling promoter and the one who thinks they will gain most from gambling. They dream of shiny schools with freshly-minted teachers collecting good salaries while teaching small classrooms of young scholars who have just finished their school-provided breakfasts (or lunches). They dream of gleaming �infrastructure� and swarms of police- and firemen. Cities would offer their �services� from conveniently-located new offices manned by well-paid graduates of government-funded colleges. Money could be used for �economic development� (whatever that means) and the result will be more jobs. A chicken in every pot and a car in every . . . no . . . a mass-transit stop outside every door. Utopia!
States have started small. �Oh, it�s just a little lottery. It�s no big deal. It�s not like we are opening casinos with blackjack and slot machines. Besides, look at all the good we can do. We can clear up some debts and create better [insert favorite government service here].�
Next they invite in other lotteries; then video poker; then real poker; then casinos (maybe leveraging them through local Native tribes � after all, that will bring jobs to the poor Native people, right?).
Of course, what really happens is that the economy gets worse as more and more citizens begin relying on the promise of easy riches and begin to sink their earnings down the rathole of gambling. The state doesn�t get most of the money. The businesses that operate the games get it. The State ends up footing the bill for �treatment� of the �disease� of compulsive gambling � while themselves being in the grip of the selfsame disease. They produce TV ads enticing people to gamble, then tag on �not for investment purposes� as they themselves look to gambling for their �investments in the future.�
If the State does manage to get a windfall, they make a splashy show of the �lottery dollars at work� in some fluff project that never reaches any of the real problems the State has � like debt. The publicity is often used to bolster the appeal for yet more gambling in the state.
An excellent example: Mississippi has long held the title for the bottom of the barrel in its education system. Some years ago they opened up a whole section of the Delta, Biloxi and Gulfport, in particular, to gambling casinos making it the Las Vegas of the South. Yet, the schools still hold the same �worst schools� title. Perhaps more money now needs to be spent on the organized crime, prostitution, and drugs that usually accompany casinos, but the money obviously isn�t going to schools and roads (except those roads leading to the casinos).
The exception is Las Vegas where gambling started as a business, not a State enterprise. Since it was in the middle of a vast desert, Nevada decided to simply legalize prostitution and not try any serious curtailing of organized crime. They just took their �cut� and left the Mob alone. Vegas also majored in extravaganza, using shows and concerts to set them apart from the later casino competition. Besides, �What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas *wink*,� they tell their hopeful clientele.
Still, Nevada�s schools are rated almost as low as Mississippi�s. So where are the benefits?
The States become hooked on the income � even though the �income� never seems to do anything of what was promised. I look at Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina. Not only were many casinos destroyed, but the State will have to try to rebuild even ordinary services without the money they have been addicted to from gambling.
According to Gamblers Anonymous (GA), some of the characteristics of a compulsive gambler are, 1) the inability and unwillingness to accept reality, hence the escape into the dream world of gambling and 2) immaturity evidenced by a desire to have all the good things in life without any great effort on their part.
Do these characterize your state officials? Do they dream of a utopian level of government services and seem unwilling to settle for what they can actually afford? Are they immature in their expectations that they can find an easy way to finance that utopia through gambling?
I say it is time for intervention. We need to confront such State officials and force them all onto a huge barge in San Francisco Bay or New York Harbor for a giant GA meeting � and, perhaps, sink it while it is in session.
The State must get free of the gambling addiction. We�ll never recover our economies by seeking irresponsible, easy gain.
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Paul deParrie is a 17-year veteran of anti-abortion street activism, a preacher, and a social critic. He is the author of "Dark Cures: Have Doctors Lost Their Ethics" (Huntington House) available at NewsWithViews Online Store Front. deParrie may be reached at: [email protected].
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Have Doctors Lost Their Ethics can be purchased by calling
The gambler seeks to fulfill his fantasies of abundance with the big win. (They always have big dreams and aspirations about all the �good� they can do with their winnings, don�t they?) As they descend into more and more debt...