Sunday, May 06, 2007

California Doesn't Need 22,000 More Slot Machines

I can't understand why the Los Angeles Times editorialized in support of installing 22,000 more slot machines on Indian reservations in California. The 10,000 there already are more than enough, assuming that gambling of that sort should be left to Nevada in its entirety.

Yes, it may be true that this time the Indians would agree to pay a substantial percentage of their slot machine revenues to the state, and this might amount to half a billion dollars a year.

But this is a huge state and with a huge budget, half a billion more or less is not going to make a lot of difference to the state fiscally, and the drawbacks of gambling from a moral point of view are substantial.

Gambling for quite a few people is an addiction, and every study indicates that people of lesser income are most inclined to gamble. Many can't afford to do so.

And gambling has been spreading to new states all the time. Anyone who wants to gamble can easily find ways to do so. If they don't want to drive to Nevada, then they can always go to the horse races, or one of the existing Indian casinos, or a poker club, or even (perhaps illegally) gamble on line.

This is one of the recent stands of the Schwarzenegger Administration that make me wonder about (1) its good sense, or (2) whether special interests aren't paying it off.

Another one of these peculiar decisions was the governor's turn down of money to finance high-speed rail in the state and to put a $10 billion bond issue on the ballot.. The state needs rail, and the highway lobby has prevailed against it too long.
As one reader wrote the L.A. Times, if Taiwan can put aside the money for a high speed rail system, build it and put it into operation, the way it just did, why not California?

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There was a nice L.A. Times turnout Friday morning for the funeral of a former Metro editor, David Rosenzweig, who died last week at 67. L.A. County prosecutor, Lael Rubin, who Rosenzweig married 17 years ago, gave a talk at the funeral, and there were many great pictures of Rosenzweig at his house in Santa Monica after the services, including some of him as a y0ung correspondent in Vietnam.

Of course, I had many dealings with Rosenzweig over the years, and always found him fair minded, even when we disagreed, as we sometimes did. He was a hard worker and a wonderful colleague. So many of us will miss him.

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