I am not lumping gambling and TABOR together. They are (of course) two totally distinct areas. But they're each examples of shortcut and inefficient attempts to arrive at desirable ends.
Gambling is an attempted shortcut to true economic development (and on the user's end - entertainment aside - to true prosperity). It is, in fact, a lazy man's (or woman's) approach to economic development. Here's why. True economic development strengthens the bonds of community. Gambling weakens them. True economic development provides needed goods or services, creating value. Gambling creates its output through a recycling of the resources that the community already has. Yes, I will concede that gambling brings in some outside individuals and also that it provides some form of entertainment. However, it's role as economic development is predicated upon the view that a process that is not value-added for the individual (and in fact can be destructive) becomes value-added for the community. How can you separate out the individual from the community in this way? To my mind that is a disconnect that doesn't hold up.
Gambling is a get rich quick type of mentality, while in fact success is most often much slower and hard earned.
I've gambled very small amounts on a small number of occasions in my life in Atlantic City casinos or Foxwoods (slots) or fantasy baseball etc, and I didn't find it addictive (especially because I hate to lose money) but I could see how it could be. You win some, you lose some, the next big win could be right around the corner! I don't drink at all and have had 1 or 2 drinks in my entire life, because I just feel its better not to get started in areas that for some turn problematic.
If Maine is as hard working a state as we say we are, there are plenty of other ways to get ahead. But we have to want to. Laws help but when you change hearts and minds then change is more profound and long lasting. Like when you make that "quality decision" then dieting becomes easier.
TABOR. Economic prosperity, as mentioned, is hard earned. We have to build the infrastructure (ROI sensitive investments ONLY!), and the teamwork, such that we're working smarter and more productively than other places, in order to be globally competitive.
Tax cuts are in fact needed as economic stimulus. But significant money in people's pocket comes from good jobs, which requires sophistication, planning, leveraging and marketing in today's global marketplace.
TABOR can be inefficient in that the cuts are too easily blanketed. Yes, individual communities will be able to make their own choices, but it may well become too easy to cut generally without setting priorities. I'd much rather see reviews of all specific programs to justify their existence going forward than looking at percentage increases or decreases as a whole. I realize under TABOR that we would be focusing on INDIVIDUAL tax increases as well.
I believe that TABOR might be better than what we are doing as a state today. But we're expecting it to do too much, and that is a big big problem. If it provides too easy decision making that limits our building the skills necessary for long term success, then it does more harm than good. I am very much worried about that possibility.
Notice that I didn't get into scare tactics regarding TABOR (slashing of services, etc.). Those that overly rely on those emotional appeals can be as simplistic and dangerous in their thinking as those that want easy answers on the other side.
And it's all about not settling for answers that are too easy. We're not out to make things difficult. Just necessarily thorough and realistic.
Let us agree, if you would consider doing so, not to look for easy answers no matter from what quarter they may arise. Success in life does not follow from that type of action.
Alex Hammer is an Independent candidate for Governor residing in Bangor. The campaign's website is www.hammer2006.politicalgateway.com.