Issue 3 puts voter In bad placeWritten by Eric McGlade | | firstname.lastname@example.org
To quote the old Gipper, the 1980’s version, “Here we go again.” It is rare when those of us on the liberal side of things feel a need to steal a quote from Ronald Reagan’s lone debate with Jimmy Carter, but it is apropos to Issue Three. How many times do we have to vote on this casino business? There is a parable in St. Luke’s gospel about a woman who keeps harassing the judge until the judge finally goes weary of her and gives her what she wants. I doubt the people of the “gaming industry” (don’t you love the name “gaming,” it sounds so much nicer than “gambling”) starts their meetings with a bible study But if they did their tenacity suggests someone in their business has a passion for this parable. Of course the gambling industry’s tenacity is probably more related to the large amounts of money to be made than it is to one parable in St. Luke.
So once again the voters of Ohio will need to vote on whether or not we want casinos in our state. The interesting thing about this issue is that it doesn’t track so easily into the classic left-right debate that burns up so much cable television news time. There are liberals and conservatives on both sides of the issue. Those who like the idea of casinos like what they believe to be easy money for education and other social concerns of the state. Keeping our taxes low (a conservative issue) while caring for the social and educational safety net (a liberal issue) seems a deal that is too good to be true.
Those opposed worry about a myriad of social problems like higher crime rates, increase in personal addictions, increased public safety costs, and the possibility that the social costs of casino gambling will exceed the revenue the states gets from its “cut.” In the religious community, this may be the only public issue where classic liberal protestants and religious right evangelicals can agree.
The debate over costs and benefits, aside, there are a two other issues that give those of us in the religious community a pause for concern. One has to do with all that is ennobling, the other with courage.
The idea that a “people” should strive to seek out what Lincoln called “the better angels of our nature” has a long and glorious tradition in our country’s history. Yoking our children’s education and therefore their future to games of chance inspired by our humanity’s baser and cruder instincts cuts against the grain of that tradition. If our children and their future is important to us, then we ought to be willing to do the brave and noble thing: pay for it out of our conviction, not out of our baser impulses.
This leads to the question of courage. There is not a whole lot of this going around. The fact that our political leaders are unwilling to make the hard choices to raise the monies needed by our schools and other social agencies that address human need puts the Ohio voter in these sticky situations. For we are told if we want better schools and a stronger social safety net we need to play the lottery and vote for casino gambling. To add insult to injury, this pathetic desire to fund our children’s future on the baser instincts of our humanity places the needs of our children’s future over and against the health and well being of our society. This is not a good choice we have been given.
Eric McGlade is a United Methodist Minister who lives and works in Bowling Green.