Not In My Backyard

The way I was taught, if a person wants to lose money, he or she should go about it honestly and try farming. I was raised in a household where gambling was still one of the Baptists’ four deadly sins–the other three were drinking, dancing, and cutting grass on Sunday. But I suspect most people don’t see anything wrong with gambling anymore, given the crowds I have to wade through to get to the gas station counter. Everywhere I look people are chain-scratching lotto tickets, trying to get rich quick.

Not to say I haven’t had my own problems with scratch offs. As a child, I spent all my hard-earned wages from mowing yards on baseball cards. As soon as I had cash in hand, I was begging my mom to take me to K-Mart, so I could purchase packs of Topps or Donruss. The baseball card companies often included their own version of a scratch off in the pack to get  kids addicted early. If you got lucky, you could win a free pack of cards or, better yet, an autographed card by a superstar who was likely on steroids. I’d hate to know how much money I wasted on now worthless baseball cards. In hindsight, if only I’d invested that money in Microsoft or Apple, I’d be a millionaire now.

Speaking of investing, I’m not exactly sure what the moral difference is between gambling and investing. My dad tried to explain it to me once, but it seemed complicated. Plus, my dad had his own set of problems with get-rich quick schemes. “Beep, Beep, Beep!” and he was digging up a fine specimen of pull tab, rusty nail, or contorted piece of unidentifiable scrap. My dad loved to metal detect, and he took me to some swell derelict farmsteads to hunt for buried treasure. We never found any treasure, but ever since, a passion for rusty junk has been in my blood, for which I’ve had many tetanus shots.

Anyway, the reason I’m talking about gambling is because less than ten miles from my house the Catawba Indians are now building a fancy new casino. It’s supposed to bring 3,000 new jobs and be a boon for our local economy, at least if you believe what the Catawba leaders and our local politicians say.  However, if you read a piece of junk mail I got the other day, you’d know the “The shady Catawba Casino is a bad bet for North Carolina.” 

Design for the new Catawba Casino.

The mailer was from a mysterious group called DefendNC. At first, I experienced a rather nostalgic bout of curiosity–could it be a conservative grassroots organization mounting a moral high horse to once again crusade against the old foe of gambling? 

But, alas, how foolish I was. I forgot it couldn’t be a conservative grassroots organization because they sacrificed all their moral high horses to the altar of an “utterly amoral man” (Ted Cruz’s words, not mine) who not only owned, but bankrupted a casino (I don’t give our former president credit for much, but bankrupting a casino is a pretty impressive feat of fiscal irresponsibility, one I fear may only be rivaled by our current president’s gazillion dollar infrastructure plan–can Fort Knox go bankrupt? Can I withdraw my social security before it does?).

Nope, it wasn’t conservatives or liberals behind DefendNC, but merely the Cherokee. They’re upset because the new Catawba casino will siphon gamblers from their old casino, which just provides further evidence that most moral compasses are merely guided by hypocritical self-interest. And I have to admit that mine is too. Personally, I believe if people want to donate their money to slot machines, that’s up to them, but I do hate to see the urban sprawl that will come along with the casino. A big housing development has already been approved nearby. So the main reason I don’t want the casino is because it’s in the vicinity of my backyard, which was previously the Catawba’s backyard, at least before most of them died of smallpox, which kinda adds another layer of hypocrisy to my moral compass. 

Anyway, to sum up, here is my self-revelation after this rambling post: The reason I oppose the casino is not because strip clubs, beer joints, and tattoo parlors may follow the casino into our community and defile our citizenry (let’s face it, we’re already pretty defiled as is). I simply don’t want McMansions defiling the landscape.

14 thoughts on “Not In My Backyard

  1. Oh aren’t you a clever one! But, I guess you haven’t read the bestseller Braiding Sweetgrass? Cause if you did you’d know the native Americans care more about the land than anyone ever to set foot on it, so if they think casinos are the way to serve it best, well, you’re clearly just very selfish to think otherwise. Shame on you for your self-interest! (OK, sarcasm aside, great post. And for someone who naturally despises 89% of the deadly sins, I get it.) 😉

    1. No, I had not heard of this book somehow. Judging by reviews, apparently everyone loves it (?), which, I think, means I’d probably hate it.

  2. This post brings back the childhood memory of when Walmart decided to build a super-center behind our neighborhood, just through the woods. Our neighborhood cobbled together a coalition to oppose it, on the grounds that it would bring too much noise pollution and traffic to our quiet neighborhood, as well as physical pollution. Walmart predictably got their way, and before long we were doing most of our one-stop shopping with the same enemy my parents previously sparred with for several rounds at city hall. I suspect a lot of others in our neighborhood went the same route. I learned an important lesson of economics through all that: ethical principles and moral compasses are more often than not, negotiable when money savings and convenience enter the equation.

    1. I have a love-hate relationship with Walmart too. I hate going in it in, but that’s where we do a lot of our grocery shopping, at least before the pandemic. They are just so much cheaper than Ingles. Sometimes I tell myself I’m going to boycott Walmart, but it never lasts long. We actually used to still have a K-mart here, but it finally closed a couple years ago. The K-Mart reminded of my childhood and what department stores used to be like, before the advent of superstores.

  3. Oh, my, you’re starting to rant as much as I do! And yet, I can’t bring myself to disagree. Why do we keep building more and more crap when we’ve already got plenty of crap built already? Can’t we just leave some green spaces, I don’t know, maybe green?

    1. Spring brings out the rants in me, apparently. In fact, I was reading an article about one of the developments going in near the Casino. It said that most of the land is “underdeveloped land.” That about made my blood boil. It’s not underdeveloped, it’s farmland, used for a perfectly good purpose, farming. Ugh.

      1. Apparently “underdeveloped” means it’s not being used for what the so-called “developers” want it used for – making money for them.

  4. Seriously, one of your best articles. I couldn’t stop reading. Looks like NC will be experiencing Indian Wars of a different type.

    1. Yeah, it’s kind of appropriate in some ways. The Cherokee and Catawba have long been rivals and the area around the Broad River was always their skirmishing grounds–and it is again today. Though the Cherokee are trying to stop it, I think the Catawba have won this round. They have already started construction.

  5. I rail against noise, you worry about development. But if I’m honest, I annoy my neighbors as much as they annoy me. Nothing’s simple, is it? Maybe the solution is to stop trying to see all sides. No, wait, that can’t be right.

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