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Wise Asses Need Not the Horseshoe

 

SmartAss

 

The opening of Cincinnati’s new gambling venue, The Horseshoe Casino, has me thinking about one of the real ironies in the animal kingdom — the donkey or “ass”. 

Today, many consider the donkey as a worthless creature in the world’s organic pecking order. However, its value dates back centuries. Obviously of great worth, the Lord specifically names this animal in a shortlist of possessions while burning The Ten Commandments on Mt. Sinai, “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbor’s.” [Ex. 20:17] So cherished as property was the ass that God used it to admonish us about the sin of covetousness. 

In Judges 15:15, Samson uses the jawbone of an ass to kill 1,000 Philistines.

Americans depict the ass as a most aloof creature. Void. Distant. Not very engaging. And yet, the Scriptures celebrate the ass in many episodes. It will forever be recorded and remembered above all beasts to be the mode of travel for Jesus’ triumph entry into the Jerusalem at the outset of passion week. [John 12: 12-19]

Contrary to our low opinion of the donkey, it has proven a faithful friend, even when mistreated. In the letter to the Seven Churches in Asia, the Lord indicts the Church at Pergamum for being a worldly church. [Revelation 2: 2-17] Specifically, the church is cited for holding to the teachings of prophet-for-pay Balaam, who taught Balak to entice Israelites to sin by eating food sacrificed to idols and by committing sexual immorality. It was in Balaam’s travels that the angel of the Lord appeared to oppose the reckless minister. Scriptures record that Balaam’s ass turned three times in reverence of the angel, which drew three beatings from the prophet. In one of Scriptures’ most famous encounters, the Lord opens the donkey’s mouth to inquire of the beatings. And here Balaam would find that the donkey’s turning saved his own life, hindering the angel’s mission to kill the disobedient prophet. [Numbers 22: 21-41]

Considered lazy today, the history of the ass is that of being one of the first domestic animals on which people relied to perform hard labor and travel great distances. The term “beast of burden” often refers to the object of metaphorical attacks one might levy on another considered shiftless.

Americans adore the cousin of the ass, horses. Fast. A beautiful specimen. Strong. And a source of amazing entertainment and revenue for those who enjoy horse-racing. The horse gallops with thunderous strides. Powerful. As a child, I was thrown from a horse in an incident that caused severe pain. But even to this day, the horse captures my imagination. Cannot say I’ve ever been amazed by the snail-pace kin, the ass!

And yet, in at-least one area, the ass has its cousin hopelessly envious. That area causes the latter to experience untimely retirement and death, while the slothful kin, the ass, can live-on until nature runs its course. While mighty and fleet, the horse is notoriously vulnerable to myriad problems related to its bodily construction and functions. In-particular, the term of a horse’s usefulness is often aborted by injury. Its brisk movements over rough terrain makes the horse susceptible to erosion of its footing, while the slower ass makes it’s relatively hardened hoofs resilient without human intervention.

The ass, for all its more recent mistreatment has been equipped by the Lord to not need the horseshoe.

Here, the butt of our jokes would be a model for our wisdom. Yes, as it turns out, the ass is wise enough to handle its tremendous responsibilities in nations around the world, without the use of horseshoes.

On March 4, The Horseshoe opened with all of the pomp and circumstance of Oscar night. Fireworks so lit-up the night time sky that local news desks were flooded with calls of gun shots. Hundreds lined-up outside to be the firsts in a sea of patrons that will caravan to this gambling facility, 24 hours a day and 365 days a year.

Radio hosts pledged to run live remotes from the blackjack table.

Even local news found it necessary to sell this new cash-cow for casino owners. A local news personality, whose reports I typically find insightful, dedicated a segment to dispel nine [negative] myths about gambling and casinos. Why, for instance, was it important during the news hour, to inform viewers that casinos do not pump oxygen in to make your stay longer and spend more? Is it the function of news to share with viewers that slot machines near doors and isles do not pay more often? With all the challenges facing society, what other motive is behind assuring citizens that machines are not set for a big payout? It is as if the regional leaders have been called to the front lines of convincing people to go gamble their resources, fully aware that most will come away as losers.

Specifically, where were the myth-busters during the aggressive campaign to move voters to support casinos in Ohio. A conspiracy of silence led citizens as sheep to the slaughter. Surely, the data was there. For instance, Melissa Kearney of the Brookings Institute authored the definitive study entitled The Economic Winners and Losers of Legalized Gambling that raises a number of policy questions and considers what should be the role of government. In citing a 2004 study by Grinols and Mustard (2004), Kearney notes, 

“The authors find a sharp increase in most crimes after the introduction of casinos. Their results suggest that the effect on crime is low shortly after a casino opens, and grows over time.” 

This might explain the support of some local police leaders for the state referendum that paved the way to casino development. Increase crime is a source of demand for he principle suppliers chartered to fight crime.

Kearney makes a number of other unappealing disclosures about casino gaming, including challenges to the non-substantiated claim of local economic growth. These, however, are not “news worthy” at a time of states and corporate interests pushing to convert citizens’ financial resources into what amounts to little more than unlevied quasi-taxes.

You might have heard someone — a teacher, preacher, or parent — admonish, “Don’t be an ass.

Well, as it relates to constructively using hard-earned dollars and promoting meaningful regional economics, this article suggests just the opposite pertaining to The Horseshoe Casino.

 


 [warning]

Ten Predictions about Cincinnati’s New Casino

1. Crime will increase in the Cincinnati area over the next 5 to 10 years.

2. Taxpayers will be urged to put more police on the street to address crime.

3. Greater Cincinnati will not see economic growth as a result of the casinos. However, local government and casino business insiders will find ways to either construct a positive growth narrative or avoid the topic altogether.

4. African Americans, lower-income whites, and other populations will be disproportionately affected in negative terms with the rise in casino revenues.

5. Ohio communities most needing stimuli will suffer from fewer development opportunities as the public sector relies more on casinos (and other trickery economics).

6. Cincinnati’s fiscal conditions will worsen, as did Detroit’s, leaving public officials to seek out other forms quick fixes to systemic problems. Casinos are but the most recent in a laundry list of Ohio’s fiscal schemes to raise revenues, including the sell of Lake Erie Correctional Institution to a private corporation (Corrections Corporation of America);  

7. Families, where people take desperate measures to redress financial woes, will find themselves in greater debt and divorce courts as a result of bad decisions, gambling addiction, and related problems (e.g., substance abuse).

8. The temporal and marginal gains that local schools will find in casinos will evaporate in the same way that state lotteries, expensive stadiums, and other policy decisions failed to generate significant resources — thus requiring frequent bond levies.

9. Some of the very sources that should have spoken loudest in opposition of the casino (e.g., clergy) will later be sources of criticism given much too late to alter the course of Ohio’s terrible commitments. Note that community agencies — chartered to serve vulnerable and at-risk populations — were also silent. Perhaps they too will benefit from greater demand for services by people with addictions, offenders, broken families, etc. Sound unthinkable? If so, ask yourself, “What happens to these organizations if the need for their services went away.”

10 Casino owners will, amid the public’s growing realization of casinos’ empty promises, gain wealth while the social cost mount.

[/warning] 


 

 

 

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