Monday, September 26, 2005

49: "The Predators"

Barbara Ernico continues to try to sell her casino project for Chance Enterprises. Give her credit for having the courage to go into the lions den that is the NO Casino Gettysburg discussion board. Dock her nine points for not having the right message.

Lets us examine some issues:

The casino operates like this: people drive in, or arrive by buses (complete with tokens worth $10-25 in slot machine play), and enter onto the floor where the machines are located. The first thing that hits you is the atmosphere. Flashing lights, neon, multi-colored, and of varying intensities, the lights are integral. They pulse in time with the noise, and are designed to create a tempo. They are not edgy, but they are intense enough to stay in the back of your mind. Music…rock music, country music, and some jazz plays at an audible level just loud enough that it does not intrude on your focus. It helps create the tempo by which you will slide your money, tokens, or credit cards into the machines and gamble it away. 98% of the visitors will not go home with more money than they had when they arrived. The other 2% will leave with a few dollars more, perhaps a hundred, or a thousand. One person out of perhaps 10,000 will become a winner of more than several thousand dollars. More noise…the ringing of bells as a machine pays out. Once in a while someone will hit a big payout of $100 or more, and lights will flash near there, the machine will declare in its metallic voice “Winner! Winner! Winner!”, and people will take notice, and be encouraged when they should not.

Casinos are predatory businesses. Their mainstay is not the family on vacation, nor is it the man or woman who comes in compulsively and gambles away the mortgage payment. It is the busloads of senior citizens who pile in by the hundreds and sit in front of the machines all day long pumping money into them. These are people from retirement homes and retirement village complexes from 200-300 miles away. More importantly, they are people on fixed incomes who often sacrifice their prescription co-pay money to play the slots, because “they have so much fun!” The image of them, smiling, while pumping large portions of their social security money into a slot machine is reminiscent of the movie “Soylent Green”, where seniors were treated to beautiful images and sounds to while away their final minutes as they were euthanized prior to being processed as food – soylent green. They did this because it was their duty on an over-crowded, dying planet Earth.

Casinos are predatory businesses. They rely on the addictive nature of many of their visitors. There is no good addiction. Addictions to caffeine, nicotine, or illegal drugs, are harmful. So, too is alcohol. So, too, is gambling, a non-chemical addiction. The casino will supply free (complimentary, or “comp”) rooms to people who spend a lot of money there, and drinks will be free, or a very low cost. They do not need to push alcohol on their customers, the customers will grab for booze by themselves. They will be aided by a dry, air conditioned environment, so that when an (attractive) waitress strolls by with a tray full of drinks that look attractive, it will be as natural as taking your next breath to ask her to bring you one. Or maybe you just want a cup of coffee…and they will bring you that for nothing…coffee will keep you awake so you can keep pumping money into that slot machine.

So the great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, headed by the great governor Edward Rendell, and the great political leaders such as Vincent Fumo, John Perzel, Robert C. Jubelirer, and Bill DeWeese, has provided the populace of the Commonwealth with a piece of legislation that authorizes an industry to operate within its borders by preying on the addictions of people, providing a venue for people to have those addictions exploited, and that said industry is fully controlled by the Commonwealth.

No ethical lapses there, eh? No…not many.

What kind of person would unleash this on the populace?

“But look at all the money!” they say. Indeed, lets’ look at all the money.

Q. Where do the revenues from gambling in Pennsylvania come from?

A. The money comes primarily from the pockets of Pennsylvania Citizens.

Q. Whom does it benefit?

A. First, and foremost, it benefits the investors. That august group includes the very legislators who wrote and passed the law enabling the industry. (There’s great ethics for you!). Then, some of it was supposed to go to property tax relief across the state, something that 80% of the state rejected when given that option. Now, the governor and Messers Fumo, Perzel, Jubelirer, and DeWeese are trying to figure out a way to make it mandatory for those same school districts that opted to reject the money (primarily because it would force them to rely on referendums for tax increases…something the legislature does not force itself to do) to be forced to accept it!

In essence, they want to make a profit from you, while you are paying your taxes out of a different pocket.

So, what kind of person would unleash this on the populace?

Obviously, Rendell, Fumo, Jubelirer, DeWeese, and Perzel would do it. So would the hundreds of investors planning to install the slot machine casinos wherever they want, in spite of local opposition.

The sheer hypocrisy, and ethical bankruptcy of those leaders has made Pennsylvania the laughing stock of the nation.

Yet, Senator Santorum, local political leaders, just about every historical preservation group in the country, religious leaders, and the general populace have raised their voices against a casino in Gettysburg.

Even Governor Rendell has publicly denounced the idea of a casino in the Gettysburg area.

Yet the investors persist.

Barbara Ernico insists the investors would never do anything to harm the Gettysburg area community -- except allow her investment to prey on addictions to make her money.

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