Friday, November 30, 2007

together we can

Senators and Representatives by City and Town:

It is called a Commonwealth for a reason. We all need to participate.

Gambling is bad. Write your representative (email for free, or phone, or print out the damn letter and mail it). Remind them why it is a Bad Idea. Ignore copyright and cut and paste my letter if you have to.


I am writing in regards to the recent proposals to legalize gambling in Massachusetts, a decision which I oppose for a number of economic, environmental, cultural, and social reasons.

As a small business owner myself, I am aware that the economic impact of casinos goes far beyond the immediate benefits of taxation income for the Commonwealth. Some of the economic costs of legalized casinos include harm to local business; this includes music venues who will see touring groups lured to the larger audiences at the casino complexes; shopping venues and customer shopping habits which will be displaced by the construction of these destinations; and the residential economic harm of loss of area property values in an already weak real estate economy.

The impact of gambling is also observable from an environmental standpoint, which must be considered as the notions of “smart-growth,” carbon-offsetting, and global warming move from intellectual issues to real problems which require a long-term commitment to lifestyle change. Environmental costs are not merely an immediate problem, but one which will resonate far into the future. Issues such as the carbon footprint of large entertainment complexes, the energy requirements for operating flashy buildings, resulting light and noise pollution from the locations, and the increased automotive pollution and need to increase road capability will become major considerations in the local environment. Additionally, both the site of building and the new construction for displaced businesses and restaurants and related venues will affect local green areas, potential conservation lands, and wetlands in the community.

One must additionally remember the cultural damage which will result from large “destination” casinos; through serving as chair of the local cultural council, I have first hand knowledge of the vibrancy provided to the community by a thriving arts scene. One of the strengths of Massachusetts is the encouragement provided to area musicians, artists, and other performers whose audience is best served through smaller venues for entertainment, music, and art. Both the venues and the performers/artists will be harmed as audiences are siphoned towards more homogenized offerings at major entertainment complexes.

Finally, and perhaps most oft-documented, are the social costs of gambling, which include gambling addiction, the loss of residential and mixed-use neighborhoods to new building needs, and the gain of only low-wage jobs, rather than the high-skilled jobs which encourage an area to flourish economically.

It is inconceivable that the short-term tax benefits of making a change on this scale, which would provide a minimum of three destination casinos throughout Massachusetts, can possibly be justified in terms of their much greater social, economic, and environmental costs.



reading the recipe for carrot cake from Epicurious
weather brittle