Thursday, November 06, 2008

Certain Realities

As I was reading over some previous thoughts I’d written recently, I came across one tidbit that caught my eye and mind even more now than when I wrote it: lotteries never made problems disappear. Now that the lottery initiative has passed in Arkansas, I am left to wonder exactly what is important to Arkansans in the midst of an economic meltdown in which thousands of Americans are losing jobs each month but few new jobs are being created. Many are losing their homes through no fault of their own, and there are no real prospects for recovery until we figure out how to put Americans back to work.

In the midst of this certain reality, Arkansans decided that we need a lottery. Amazing. Incredible. Unbelievable. There is widespread financial calamity, banks are failing, people have no savings (and subsequently, no money for banks to loan), and Social Security is on the verge of collapse; yet Arkansans decided that a lottery, a game of chance that will benefit the very few (those who might win and those who wanted to go to college but were unable to acquire grants, loans, or scholarships in the past), has been what Arkansas has been lacking all this time. Arkansas has never been a real booming state for employment opportunities yet through due diligence and determination, Conway AR landed a 1200-new-jobs employer … without the benefit of a lottery.

I cannot adequately express my profound disappointment in this lottery initiative being approved, but my disappointment has little to do with my own personal or religious objections. It has more to do with the fact that one of this state’s constitutional officers has devoted his entire political existence to this lottery’s passage; I’m not aware that he has done much else such as using his office and its resources as well as his obvious sales talent to figure out new ways to help Arkansas businesses expand their operations and HIRE MORE PEOPLE. Or figure out what it will take to attract even more new businesses to set up shop in Arkansas.

I will live with it, of course, and I do have a certain level of respect for the process that allowed citizens to vote on the measure. There is little else I can do now beyond hope and pray that we will not be led to burning incense or sacrificing animals at the altar of the gaming gods as if we have finally discovered our true salvation. I think in the end, though, every objection that was raised will soon enough be realized as we come to discover that all we did was to create another state agency whose sole purpose of existence will be to convince Arkansans to spend more of what little money many have on a one-in-several-million chance of maybe hitting “the big one” … as if money ever solved any real problems.

My presidential choice did not win, yet this great republic has endured and come Jan 20, Mr. Obama will become my president and yours. My choices for the US Senate and the US House didn’t do much better (can I pick ‘em, or what?), but this lottery initiative I find to be gravely disappointing. As with any other election, however, we get what we ask for and in the end, we are called, as a civilized people, to respect the choices of the majority.

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