The Boston Globe begins its lead editorial today this way:
GOVERNOR PATRICK knows slot machines and table games are not the stuff of human ideals that he talked about in his campaign.
To say the very least. Neither is Patrick’s decision any form of creative political leadership. Rather, it shares the faulty logic that moves compulsive gamblers to their weekly and monthly trips to the casinos – ignorance of the laws of probability.
However Governor Patrick (like the Globe editorial board) has no problem repudiating his ideals in order to support what is apparently his highest value – an expanded yet unreformed Massachusetts public sector.
"This is the last true revenue source, absent taxes," said Senator Michael W. Morrissey, a Democrat from Quincy. "We've done some creative things, but this is really the last frontier of revenues."
Better journalists would have asked Senator Morrissey for a few examples of the legislature’s creativity in controlling public spending.
Sunday’s Globe has a story by Frank Phillips with some details of the Governor’s plan as well as this fine “but paragraph”
In making his decision to endorse casino resorts, Patrick will be going against many of his close political allies and a good chunk of his Democratic base, including liberals who see gambling as a regressive tax that takes money from those in the lower income brackets to ease the financial burdens of the more affluent. Those critics, including House leaders, say the financial gains are illusory. They say expanded gambling would create social problems and will hook state political leaders and Beacon Hill budget writers on gambling revenues, while providing few long-term economic benefits. They also say that expanding gambling with Las Vegas-like resorts will change the historic and cultural character of Massachusetts forever.
But a recent study said that there is $1.5 billion in annual unmet market demand for gambling. A line of pent-up casino proposals bears out the assertion that market forces favor gambling.
Market forces favor gambling, folks. This is merely the market responding to an unmet need!
There is also unmet market demand for businesses trading in heroin, stolen cars, cocaine, marijuana, and underage girls. However our law forbids such businesses because we judge that their social costs outweigh their benefits.
That is the central question concerning casino gambling. Clearly the additional state revenue will be contributed primarily by the poorest and least educated citizens. How illiberal must an idea be before liberals in Massachusetts reject it?