New York Southern Tier residents are gambling with their future if they support the gambling question on the ballot in November, which, if passed, will give Gov. Cuomo the excuse he needs to halt natural gas development rather than just sit on it.
Governor Cuomo has announced more than once that he strongly supports casino gambling in upstate New York. He has gone so far as to alter the language on the ballot to make the Constitutional Amendment appear as a jobs bill with nothing but blue sky and sunshine in the future. Nowhere does he admit, discuss or acknowledge the years of research and experience that show that casino gambling is a zero sum game.
Casino gambling takes existing dollars away from those who can least afford the loss and gives it to wealthy investors. The odds are always in the “House’s” favor. It breeds gambling addictions, alcoholism and broken homes. Better still, the floor shows that will now accompany the casinos will draw patrons away from the Clemens Center and First Arena in Elmira and the Forum Theater and Downtown Arena in Binghamton, drawing away existing dollars and revenue and funneling it to Cuomo’s industry friends who have given him and legislative leaders, in the aggregate, nearly a million dollars.
The zero sum game continues as New York City’s city-state continues to draw life from the upstate population while we bear the burden of the enormous economic and social costs. Casino gambling is like a high potency psychotic drug where the side effects are being ignored so that the maker can turn a huge profit.
The current New York State Constitution bans casino gambling for good reason, it is an invidious and destructive industry that sucks the vitality out of a community. It can bring with it crime and prostitution. Like Nevada, shall we next legalize prostitution for the almighty dollar, followed close behind by drugs and marijuana? Remember the parable of the frog? If you put a frog in a pot of lukewarm water then place the pot on the stove and heat it, the frog will slowly die as the water boils. He won’t jump out. But toss him in a pot of water already boiling and he will jump out and save himself.
We have been placed in the lukewarm water and the heat has been turned up. Casino gambling will give to upstate booze, women and song. Alcohol freely flowing at the gaming tables, possible prostitution upstairs in the hotel rooms, and floor shows which stimulate the other two. Our community could wake up every morning with the hangover of broken homes, gambling addiction, sexually transmitted diseases, and performing arts centers that are no longer sustainable.
What has this to do with oil and gas development in upstate New York? If casino gambling passes, Governor Cuomo will have his answer to the fracking conundrum. With perfect political protection he can take the position that upstate now has all the economic development that it needs. Minimum wage dead-end service jobs, tax revenue for downstate, more political contributions from downstate celebrities to assure that upstaters remain dependent upon the NYC financial-political complex.
What could we have had instead of casino gambling? We could have had a $1,000,000,000.00 (billion dollars) infusion of signing bonuses into the economy. This is not recycled local money, but out-of-state money raising the standard of living for everyone.
We could have had 60,000 or more temporary and permanent jobs, like Pennsylvania. We could have saved hundreds of family farms and promoted self reliance and a reduction in the welfare rolls. We could have jump-started manufacturing with cheap energy.
We could have reduced our school taxes with the revenues from the current oil and gas tax which goes directly to the school districts in which the oil and gas are produced. We could have rebuilt our small cities and towns. We could have had the jobs to keep our talented young men and women from leaving the area. We could have revived our spirit of hope, confidence and hard work which has always been the mark of up-staters.
We need to vote down the Casino Gambling Amendment and start to rebuild our communities with natural resource development.
Lastly, what about global warming? Facts: The US has reduced its global warming impact to that which existed in 1992. Impressive. Ceasing to cut down the rain forest in the Amazon would alone stop global warming. Ceasing also to cut the forests in Indonesia would push global warming backward. Natural gas conversion and rain forest protection alone could go a long way. If ecology is all about diverse and complex interactions within our natural environment, then doesn’t that include the life cycle of human beings.
Shouldn’t we all be taking an interdisciplinary approach which includes saving rain forests, converting coal fired plants to natural gas, and developing and manufacturing machines and processes which conserve energy and promote the health of our individual bodies and our communities? I think that the answer is a resounding “yes.”