What Would Miss Kitty Do?

There’s gambling in Dodge City again. Our state’s leaders have been betting on gambling for nearly thirty years now.  First it was lotteries, then a dog track, then a horse track.  They have all been losing bets.

I grew up not far from the Woodlands dog and horse tracks.  They are almost deserted.  In the meantime, real businesses–restaurants and stores–have grown up in the same neighborhood.  Wyandotte County has experienced real growth in the past ten years with real, family-friendly businesses.  I often enjoy taking my grandchildren to T-Rex or Books-A-Million.

Now our state fathers want to put a casino in the neighborhood.

The state’s first casino opens today in Dodge.  Our legislators imagine that vacationers from both coasts will spurn Las Vegas and flock to the former home of Wyatt Earp, Doc Holiday, and Miss Kitty herself to donate their money to our state’s economy.

Gambling is a tax on the poor.  The rich and famous may save up and budget for a lavish vacation in Las Vegas–although that city is being hit hard by the recession–but they are not going to come to Kansas to spend their entertainment dollars.

The one political fact that has been constant for the past thirty years is that you can’t raise taxes on the people who can afford to pay taxes.  It is unpatriotic to ask those who benefit most from the nations economy to contribute more.  It is unpatriotic to expect those with the most assets protected by the military to contribute a larger share to the military budget.  It is unpatriotic to ask those who need an educated workforce to contribute their share to the educational budget.  And if we tax the benefits of the bankers who ran the economy into the ground–who will be willing to run our banks anymore?

So politicians won’t raise taxes.  Instead they cut funding to education and programs for the elderly and the disabled.  And they come up with scams that they think will stimulate the economy and bring in revenue.  It’s time we call their bluff.

Taxman (Voodoo Economics -4)

No one likes paying taxes–even the Beatles had a song against the “Taxman.”

Yet, someone has to pay for the services government provides.  Voodoo economics has waged a war against taxes for nearly thirty years.  It is now considered unpatriotic to pay taxes.  Taxes are called a penalty for success.

The rich should pay more taxes because they have more money.

The rich also benefit more from the services government provides.  The largest recipient of tax money is the military.  The armed services protect us all, but oil companies, power plants, and large corporations have more assets to protect than I do, so they should pay more for the protection.

A curious thing has happened over the last twenty to thirty years.  States have turned to gambling–first lotteries, then dog and pony races, now casinos–as an alternative to taxes.  Conservative, pro-family religious leaders used to campaign against gambling, but they have focused their energies on other foes while the gambling lobby has slipped in the back door.

In Wyandotte County, where I grew up, there is an abandoned dog and horse track.  When lotteries failed to raise enough revenue the state legislature bet on race-track betting.  The track is now grown up with weeds.  After the failure of the state-sponsored horse raises, a NASCAR track was built, not to bring in gambling money but to attract those who are genuinely interested in the car races.  Around the track a shopping and restaurant district has sprung up and the economy has been revitalized.

Now plans have been announced to build a casino overlooking the race track.  I am afraid the casinos will bring crime and drive out the good restaurants and shops; but maybe not.  Whether gambling brings any general prosperity or not, we know it will bring bankruptcies, divorces, and suicides. So great is the aversion to raising taxes that our leaders are willing to pay that price.  I’m betting the casinos will turn out to be a losing proposition.