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.