There is no doubt the State of Ohio, like many others, is in a financial mess. If you looked at the history of our economy you would notice that there have always been ups and downs. Individuals seem to understand this and plan for times of lean and times of plenty. Governments and our elected officials seem to have missed that day in Economics 101. Governments always seem to be shocked when the economy goes south for awhile.
Our Governor Tom Strickland has a plan to balance the Ohio budget. Here it is in a nutshell; “Let’s gamble our way to prosperity!” As a comic my natural instinct is to ridicule this idea and to highlight the fact the Governor is ignoring that four times in the last twenty years the voters, by a wide margin, have refused casino gambling.
In addition to our Governor thinking that gambling is the answer a new group of casino gambling vultures is waiting in the wings and trying to get yet another vote on the ballot. Governor Strickland is taking advantage of a loophole in the lottery law to call slot machines “video lottery terminals.” You remember the lottery don’t you? It was going to solve all of our school finance problems. To paraphrase the well known TV host Dr. Phil, “How’s that working out for you?”
Among the reasons given for this over riding of the will of the people is jobs! Gambling will create jobs. Fair enough we can always use more jobs for Ohioans. The second thing we often hear these people and politicians who support slot machines at racetracks and building casinos is that even though they are personally opposed to gambling they don’t want to either, “tell people how to run their lives,” or “legislate morality.” I heard the alleged conservative talk show host Willie Cunningham extolling the virtues of casino gambling on his show the other day using both of these arguments.
When politicians say they don’t want to tell us how to live our lives with a straight face it is funnier than anything I have ever said on stage. That is exactly the point of all government. But, in the spirit of fairness I will take the supporters of gambling at their word and say we need something for Ohio which will create jobs, bring maximum revenue to the state and not worry about telling people how to live their lives or what moral values they should observe.
If the State of Ohio gets into the gambling business we are getting into a crowded field. Michigan, Illinois, West Virginia, Indiana and Pennsylvania already have casinos and slots so let’s find some new markets to tap without regard to morality that will raise some serious cash and create tons of jobs.
Let’s sell dope! We can be the first Government to get in on the ground floor of what we all know is a high profit business. Forget trying to get a few Hoosier farmers and Kentucky redneck to come over here and pull a few handles on our one armed bandits, I’m sorry, video lottery terminals. We will have the entire world’s crack heads and heroin users making a beeline for the Buckeye State. Besides the jobs in manufacturing and he distributing of the product our tourism will be off the charts! We will also have a hire a lot more cops, prison guards and drug counselors! Jobs for everybody!
Of course when other states see how much we are raking in they will start selling dope too so we have to be ready for our next non-judgmental venture: pornography! I can see a chain of state run “gentleman’s clubs” that stretches from Cleveland to Cincinnati and from Toledo to little old Ironton! Of course, with the government running them they may not be what you have come to expect from private sector clubs. In that sense, it would be kind of like government healthcare.