Advisory Board members weigh in on racinos
Editor's note: We gave members of our Editorial Advisory Board an opportunity to share their thoughts on a legislative proposal to legalize slot machines at horse racing tracks (racinos) as a way of raising revenue for the state of Minnesota. Here's what three of them had to say:
I am very reluctant to support the racino Bill in any form. Yes, it may generate some jobs, although I am not convinced it will do any more than to move them out of one area and put them in another.
Yes, it may help a couple of horse farms. However, it creates a scenario of becoming addicted to gambling money as a way of supporting the state.
While we are so reluctant to further tax our citizens, we seem quite eager to take their money in a way that will hit them where they are vulnerable. It is like selling more alcohol to the alcoholic so the rest of us can benefit from that industry. We DO have a responsibility to each other, or have we thrown that concept out?
Additionally, I am a strong believer that although we have taken back everything else we have given the Native Americans, it is time for us to change. This bill appears to take jobs from the Native American population areas and give them to other areas. Another time in history where money dictates us taking from that population, once we see it is profitable to do so.
In the last years of the 19th century this quote was made by Red Cloud:
"They made us many promises, but they never kept but one; they promised to take our land, and they took it."
— Rob Artley
My thoughts on the racino and other tax revenue opportunities: In a commentary published last week in the P-B, I describe the racino as a creative idea for a revenue source. I also said in the same commentary piece that we need to figure out ways to cover the state's budget shortfalls with both spending cuts and new revenue sources. I think privately we all know this, including legislators.
I think Sen. Dave Senjem, who is a chief author of the racino bill, was pretty astute when he proposed a tax that would likely be a lot less polarizing than a clothing tax, or an increase on vehicle license fees, for example.
Unfortunately, as Rob Artley says, the racino is another example of us changing the rules when dealing with Native Americans, something our state and country have done for over 200 years.
— Susan Nee
I appreciate the sensitivity of Susan and Rob toward changing the rules in dealing with Native Americans.
However, Native Americans realize that change is inevitable and is the nature of human history. We should not regard them as sacred cows or ubervictims; rather, they are diverse, living cultures. Some of us who were not brought up with the concept of original sin have less guilt with the sins of the fathers.
"If the thing be no sin of mine, nor caused by any sin of mine, and if society be no worse for it, why give it further thought? How can it harm society?" These questions, posed by Marcus Aurelius (A.D. 121-180), are the questions before us on the racino issue.
— Linda Butterfield