Truth about slots

Thanks for your good coverage on Oct. 23 of the Wednesday night slots debate. State Secretary of Labor, Licensing and Regulation Thomas Perez’s (D) weak defense of the slots proposal suggested that even he privately believes the case is preposterous – which it is. The state has a short-run financial crisis. The local horse-racing industry and the national gambling industry, both of which have long desired to introduce slots into the state, are attempting to use this situation to promote their private interests. They argue that revenue from slots will help the state solve this problem. However, the problem is immediate, and any significant revenue from the slots program would be not felt until several years into the future. Hence, there is no connection between the problem (which is real) and the proposed solution (which is highly problematic). The answer to Perez’s question – of what the state should cut if it doesn’t receive any additional revenue – will have to be answered now, whether the slots proposal passes or not.

Slots advocates are trying to sell this project by saying slots revenues will be earmarked for “education” (whatever that may turn out to be). They downplay the fact that half or more of the total take of the slots industry will go to the firms running the operation and the racetrack owners. Do the citizens of this state really want to subsidize horse racing, when they do not want to attend the races in sufficient numbers to cover the costs? What other “historic” industries (for example, Mom-and-Pop grocery stores) should also be subsidized? This idea is ridiculous.

If the state wants to collect slot machine revenue to support education, why not install the slots at campuses and public schools, or maybe at the conveniently located Motor Vehicle Administration offices, and keep all the revenue for itself? Of course, the state would then have to buy the machines and pay the workers, but the vast sums being spent on this political campaign suggest that the difference between costs and revenues in the slots business is enormous.

Lee PrestonFaculty Ombuds Officer,Professor Emeritus BUSINESS SCHOOL

The red scare

In the middle of October, the major presidential candidates spoke at the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner in New York City. For the night, each adopted an amicable posture not otherwise found in the waning weeks of a heated campaign. In the following days, a disgraceful parade of Republican demagogues, apparently inspired by that vaunted oracle of the American polity “Joe the Plumber,” dusted off the ancient epithet “Socialist” in their increasingly desperate attempts to discredit Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.). In light of these developments, it seems appropriate to take a moment to reflect on how the man the two contenders paused to honor last week dealt with similar slanders in his presidential campaign.

Alfred E. Smith in Boston, Oct. 24, 1928: “The cry of Socialism has been patented by the powerful interests that desire to put a damper on progressive legislation. Failing to meet arguments fairly and squarely, special interest falls back on the old stock phrase of Socialism.

It is simply subterfuge and camouflage, and I am satisfied that the people of the nation in their wisdom will so appraise it.

I have certainly used words to convey my meaning and I have not attempted to conceal it, and it made no difference in what part of the country I was talking. To refer to the remedies for all these evils as State Socialism is not constructive statesmanship, it is not leadership; and leadership is what this country is hungry for today. It has not had it in the last eight years, and it has little prospect of it in the four to come, in the event of Republican success.”

Note, in particular, the timeliness of the last sentence.

Robert ChilesGraduate StudentHistory