Your Government

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By Betty Freauf

Articles in the Salem, Oregon Statesman Journal (2/3/2002) addressed the severe problem of alcohol and drug addiction. The one article, "The Detox Struggle" said that one study found Oregon spends more than $900 million a year dealing with the effects of substance abuse - enough to plug the state's looming $830 million budget shortfall.

A Portland TV station reported on 2/9/2002 that the Oregon House of Representatives, now meeting in February 2002 for a special session to address the shortfall, passed a bill to allow liquor stores to be open on Sundays to help increase revenues to meet the budget shortfall.

Does anyone besides me find this latest move by these state legislators to be an absurdity?  Why are they trying to balance the budget on the backs of the weakest members of our society with their alcohol revenues when these are the very same people who need services to help them kick the habit? It sounds like a wash to me!

Our Oregon Blue Book indicated in November 1938 an initiative was on the ballot prohibiting slot and pin ball  machines, darts and other similar games. The initiative passed.

Then along came the idea of a lottery initiative. Bible thumpers opposed it but the majority of voters passed it.  State-sanctioned lotteries appeal to those who can least afford their ultimate cost - those with the chronic gambling syndrome. The profits were suppose to go to the vague term of "economic development" which soon meant anything the legislature decided it should mean.

Lotteries feed on their own frenzy. In fact, a 3-18-1998 local newspaper article said the earthquake we had in the Willamette Valley wouldn't halt gambling because Oregon's disaster preparedness plan included quickly restoring access to video poker.

Senator John Lim (R-Oregon) wrote in a guest opinion in February 1997 an estimated 150,000 Oregonians were hooked on gambling and indicated the state was not only the promoter of this problem but also its beneficiary.

The state, by encouraging gambling, can then set up programs through mental health to treat those with what they've labeled as 'chronic gambling syndrome'. This allows them to add another bureaucracy of mental health experts and social workers, paid for by lottery proceeds.

Reports now indicate there are thousands more lottery addictions than first imagined. We even had one county commissioner, a former legislator, who was recalled over thefts caused by his video poker gambling problem.

And it wasn't long after the voters approved the lottery that a new 98,000 square foot building was needed to bring together the 350 employees at the time in 1996 that had been working at different sites. So the lottery added to the already bloated bureaucracy many more government workers and took another piece of valuable property off the property tax rolls.

Then the Indian casinos began being built on reservation lands. One Indian said "It's Christmas all year around" when the casino passes out annual profits checks to tribal members. While the tribes do attempt to give a few bucks to the outside community, the bulk of the profits remain with the sovereign Indians.

How long will it be until we began acting like three men in Malaysia who were charged with murder of an American woman who was sacrificed to appease the spirit that controlled the winning of lottery numbers. The Devil's tactics always cost more than they produce. Cities with legalized gambling have higher suicide rates and gambling may be the fastest-growing cause for record rates of bankruptcies in the U.S.

If some of these things sound ridiculous, they are not meant to be. The bottom line is that every time we are given a new program of some nature, it takes more government bureaucrats to regulate and the result is a planned growth of a bigger and more dedicated bureaucracy.

This reminds me of the dedicated prison guards in an Oklahoma State Prison.  Several hours before a prisoner was to be executed he said he wanted to take a nap. The guards found him unconscious because he'd taken a drug overdose. They rushed him to the hospital, revived him and then took him back to the prison so he could be executed. Why? Because their job description said so.

Rather than reduce the size of government, the Oregon Democrat legislators solution to the budget shortfall is tax, tax, tax those who still have jobs while the Republicans appear to want the already addicted alcoholics to buy more booze to help increase the revenues and support capitalism.

If this wasn't so ridiculous, I could almost laugh.

Betty Freauf has been a GOP activist for many years. Elected county chairman, state party secretary, congressional district chairman, candidate for Governor of Oregon in 1986, the house of reps in 1988 and 1990. 

She published a weekly "Legislative Action" newsletter for five Oregon Legislative Sessions, is an Excommunicated citizen Review Board Member to "WATCHDOG", Oregon's Child Protective Agency. (Fired for asking too many questions)