Thoughts on Healthier Eating
When you consider how injurious the socioeconomic consequences of state-sponsored gambling are, compared to its benefits, you have to ask why Governor Cuomo is promoting the expansion of casino gambling, let alone as economic development. Sure, “gambling is already here” and “New York needs jobs” – neither is in dispute. And used as they are to promote the Governor’s plan, they’re certainly appealing. That’s the sweet side of half-truths many of us prefer to our vegetables. But if Albany isn’t serving a balanced meal, it’s in our interests to understand why. I’m suggesting it’s a failure of imagination.
The thesis has been with me for some time and came into sharper focus recently while reading False Idyll, an essay by J.B. MacKinnon. Dealing with an unrelated topic, MacKinnon’s words struck me as eerily apropos to the social injustice inherent to the casino economy – “… the way you see the world determines much about the world you are willing to live in …“
And because I choose to be generous in spirit, I choose to believe Governor Cuomo’s promotion of the casino economy is rooted more in how he sees the world rather than in the belief he can make it better. It’s an unfortunate conclusion, considering what life would still be like if others before him had constrained their own imaginations when confronted with the same choice on important public policy matters: emancipation and suffrage to name just two.
And though you might argue Mr. Cuomo’s recent policy commitments to gun control and gay marriage render my thesis flawed, I’d respond by saying perhaps you’re correct, but unlike for example integration in the south, I don’t think either would have occurred without strong political winds blowing at Mr. Cuomo’s back. Regardless, what really matters is the facts of the casino economy, their implications for social injustice, and Mr. Cuomo’s refusal to acknowledge either in his pursuit to fill state coffers. All of which is also to say, his fixation on the gambling economy is apt subject material for an as-yet conceived book to be titled after MacKinnon’s essay.
So, what might we imagine if enough people in Albany saw the world more through the lens of what it could be rather than the way it is? Given that the majority of casino gambling revenue dollars come from the minority of gamblers with serious gambling disorders, would lawmakers continue to endorse expanding that predatory business model to increase state revenues? And given the well-established relationship that increased opportunity to gamble produces more people with serious gambling disorders, would they continue promoting state policies that cultivate making people sick to balance budgets? Or, might they instead work to formulate policies that mitigate the interstate impacts of gambling so often used to conscript state residents in a race-to-the-bottom casino economy? I think we know what they’d choose. And there’s also recent precedence for pursing equally important objectives. Consider, for example, NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Regardless of where you come down on the 2nd amendment debate, Mayor Bloomberg doesn’t just believe in the need for federal gun policies that don’t undermine those of states; he’s a fierce advocate for them in Washington.
Still shooting for the stars you say? How about then just punting for the moon? Albany could acknowledge a false premise it uses to pursue expanding the failed policy of state-sponsored gambling, though I suspect it isn’t spoken aloud there often. It’s the keystone for the arch of my thesis – “we’re desperate; what else can we do if we don’t promote gambling?”
The answer is, plenty.