Does this fall in the "hard times justify extraordinary measures" category?
Mayor Tom Henry on Friday put out the welcome mat for more gambling in Fort Wayne - a prudent response, he said, to the “uncertain, unsettled economic times” that only an hour earlier had come to include the temporary closure of the local General Motors truck plant.
Although no specific proposals have been received, Henry said several developers are interested in bringing a casino or other gaming facilities to Fort Wayne - a move that would require action by the General Assembly, according to attorney Tim Haffner, who also attended the news conference.
Maybe, maybe not. We're certainly seeing that precedent being set at the national level when a Republican administration starts throwing trillions of dollars around with no rules and no oversight. But it still seems to me that a specific industry such as gambling is either justfied for economic development and unobjectional on moral grounds, or it is not, regardless of our current financial situation. Otherwise, the worse the economy gets, the worse the solutions you will accept. If things get even worse, how about legalizing prositution or setting up a legal heroin outlet or, hell, even going into the murder-for-hire business?
I'm writing tomorrow's editorial on this subject and thinking about using an analogy from "Catch 22." There is an episode in which Major Major is trying to get Yossarian to go along with Col. Catchcart's plan for "just four more missions," and Yossarian says he isn't going to fly them. It's clear that our side is going to win this war, whether I go up and die or not, he says. A lot of people are going to die, and a lot are going to survive and have fun. I choose not to be one of the ones who die. Let somebody else die. "But, Yossarian," Major Major objects, "What if everybody on our side felt that way?" Well, Yossarian answers, "I'd certainly be a fool to feel any other way, wouldn't I?"
At some point -- and maybe we've reached it -- gambling becomes such an accepted part of the state culture that it's pointless to continue to object to it, on moral or any other grounds. Beyond that point, there will be only the people who profit from gambling and the few hardy fools who aren't getting their cut of the take.