I think Todd Dorman summed up my attitude about the Tuesday gambling election fairly well in his column in The Gazette this morning.
Except, I’m not sure I come down on the “yes” side. If I do vote “no,” however, it won’t put me in much of a funk should Linn County voters approve a casino. There is no guarantee one will be forthcoming even with a “yes” vote, and I don’t see it destroying the fabric of the universe as we know it if it is built.
I don’t see the need for a local casino, and I’m pretty sure I’ll never visit it if it’s open. If I want to toss money away, I’ll go see a Quinton Tarantino movie or add more layers of wildflower seeds to the compost of wildflower seeds I have strewn in the woods behind my house. I don’t see any reason to gamble my cash away.
So, I have no personal stake in the vote. But, in a larger social sense, would a casino be a good thing?
Well, it would provide some employment, although not in an industry that creates any goods or that is known for its lavishly generous salaries. It would provide low-paying, sometimes exploitive jobs. Say what you will about those terrible “Jumer’s” commercials, but those Midwestern “ladies” decked out in feathers ala Las Vegas dancers look neither comfortable nor particularly well respected.
Not that a CR casino would necessarily feature showgirls. But I’m not sure blackjack dealer ranks a lot higher on the scale of life vocations.
On the other hand, people whose education doesn’t qualify them to be software engineers need something to do, as do all those sociology majors—and a job is a job. And just because I don’t understand or engage in gambling doesn’t give me much motivation to deprive others of that thrill.
While it’s true that there are social costs to gambling, we’re talking about shuffling those costs around, not eliminating them. True, we don’t have the casino “here,” but if it’s “there” why can’t it be here? And gambling is like drinking–not that harmful to most people who engage in it, even if it’s addictive for a few. I’m not campaigning to make beer illegal because it’s not safe for alcoholics.
I’ve noticed among my “Facebook” friends that those who declared themselves as “no” votes are people I tend to respect. And I hesitate to vote “yes” knowing that “the deal” that is on the table seems like a particularly Cedar Rapids sort of plan—a slightly shady, inside job.
I could easily vote “no.” I don’t really want a casino in Cedar Rapids.
On the other, or third or fourth hand, the “water park” idea doesn’t sway me one way or another—if it makes economic sense, someone else could build it and there is no guarantee of it anyway. And it would feel odd to vote no so that some outside investor, flush with gambling cash, can build us a different kind of tourist trap.
In the end, Todd and I may disagree. My instinct is to vote “no,” although I concede my instinct isn’t speaking with much conviction and I may need a quarter to turn up “heads” to confirm my hunch.
Todd comes down “yes,” primarily, I think, because he can’t find a reason to say “no.” I respect that. But I might vote “no” using almost exactly the same rationale. If you haven’t sold the idea to me, why should I favor it?
Finally, both sides in this campaign have done a terrible job. The “yes” campaign started with insulting, provocatively bad ads, saying, in effect, you’re stupid if you vote no. And the “meat lady” was not an effective spokesperson. The later ads, which feature the main investor, were actually more effective, but I still have a bad taste form the earlier ones.
And the “no” campaign? Sure, there are local people who oppose gambling for saintly reasons, but the campaign seems to have been co-opted by other casinos trying to keep their share of the sucker market. (Just to thumb my nose at them is the biggest reason I’m still toying with a “yes” vote.)
I may vote no. I’m leaning that way, but I still might vote yes. Then again, I may stay home on Tuesday and drink beer and say the heck it.