The gambling argument every Alabamian should hear
(Audio above: Cliff Sims discusses gambling on Yellowhammer Radio)
On Wednesday’s edition of Yellowhammer Radio, host Cliff Sims delivered a thought-provoking monologue on the gambling debate that is once again beginning to heat up in Alabama.
The must-hear audio is above, along with a transcript below.
If you’re unsure about where you stand on gambling, I actually sympathize with where you’re at because I’ve wrestled with it myself. When I start thinking about how we’re going to approach a decision on where we stand on gambling, I feel like there are several things I believe in that are in conflict with one another. Number one, I believe people should have the freedom to spend their money how they choose — the liberty argument, that if people want to gamble they should be allowed to. And I’m sympathetic to that argument. I’m a limited government conservative. I don’t think the government should be limiting what I can do with my money. By and large people should be able to do what they want to do.
On the flip side, look at the undeniable social ramifications of gaming. And don’t even look to Las Vegas, look right here in the state of Alabama… The gambling bosses once held so much sway over Phenix City down in east Alabama, corruption was so rampant, that an attorney stood up and said ‘I’m not going to stand for this anymore. I’m going to run for attorney general of Alabama and shut it down.’ He was not going to allow it to happen any more. He was going to clamp down on corruption. And one night he walked out of his office after working late and a man put a gun up to his head and pulled the trigger. And to send a message, he put the gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger again. In other words, ‘Don’t you dare speak out against us.’
And I’ve heard other stories equally as disturbing…
A police officer comes by and sees a man and his family pulled over on the side of the road — and this is a true story from right here in Alabama. The officer pulls up and asks if everything is ok. The man says, ‘Well, sir, I’ve run out of gas.’ And as the officer gets more information he finds that the man, who had his wife and two kids in the car, had spent his last dime at the casino. He’d lost everything they had to the point he didn’t even have money to put gas in his tank, much less food on their table or to pay his bills. And he had made it just onto the interstate coming out of the casino and run out of gas.
Now, you can make the freedom of choice argument all you want. What about the kids in the back seat of that car whose father had fallen so deeply into the addiction of gambling that he prioritized it over providing for his family? Those kids didn’t have any choice in the matter. I want you to think about those kids when you’re unsure about where you stand on gambling. I want you to think about Mr. Patterson who ran for attorney general on a platform of cleaning up corruption that had come with widespread gambling in Phenix City, Alabama.
On top of that, remember the false premise you’re being offered: either we’ve got to raise taxes or we’ve got to have gambling because the government needs more revenue — or else everything is just going to fall apart.
Really, what gambling is at the end of the day is a way to make a very few people extremely wealthy at the expense of a lot of other people… It’s going to be a very small number of casino bosses who are getting rich at the expense of everyone else. But it’s also a way to let your conservative legislators off the hook — to prop up big government — because instead of making cuts and reforms, they’re able to rely on the gambling money.
And the gambling money is not just going to flow into the state coffers to prop up big government, they’re also going to be getting a little taste in the form of campaign contributions.
We just got done breaking the stranglehold the AEA, the teacher’s union, had on the state of Alabama. They had so much more resources than anybody else and were funding the campaigns of so many lawmakers that no one would dare fight back. Are we going to trade in that for the same thing on the gambling side, where suddenly they have more money to donate than anyone else that they hold total sway over the state?
These are the questions you need to be asking yourself.
Do you want to raise your kids in a city where there’s a giant casino in downtown? Because that’s what they’re talking about here in Birmingham — plopping a giant casino in downtown Birmingham, with all the things that come along with that. And what comes along with it is increased corruption, increased drug trafficking, increased sex trafficking, increased prostitution. That’s the fact of the matter, it’s not my opinion. If you just look anywhere that exists, that’s just the truth.