Friday, March 06, 2009

An Open Letter To The Governor of Pennsylvania

My very modest childhood home still stands less than a mile from one of the casinos-under-construction you have mandated in Bethlehem, PA. I return to my hometown often and have noticed the building of those gaming rooms and hotels. The site of the most aggressive building is where my Uncle Tommy ran the ore cranes for the once mighty Bethlehem Steel Corporation. He was most proud of his job and his skills. Soon thousands of hapless citizens will be slipping quarters into slots on this hallowed ground with the hopeless hope of getting rich. This will come back to haunt them – and you. 
The Bethlehem Steel Corporation – once a mighty force in the world – no longer exists. This is the result of arrogant management and outrageous union demands. I side with neither. It is a sad chapter in the history of our country – and our state.
Atop South Mountain there is a star that has shined for decades. It is in keeping with the deep and spiritual history of an old, American town. Founded by Moravian missionaries on Christmas Eve, 1735, Bethlehem has always stood for light in the darkness and a beacon of hope. Your aggressive and unilateral actions with slot machine taxation are akin to the Children of Israel when Moses returned from Mount Sinai with the Ten Commandments and they were worshipping a Golden Calf. All hell broke loose. This incident, one may assert, was the beginning of the history of repentance. 
My elderly mother now resides in a high-rise building under-written (thank goodness) by the Keystone State. Admittedly, her rent and cost of prescription drugs has been made affordable by the decades-old Pennsylvania lottery – another form of voluntary taxation. I would be a liar if I didn’t acknowledge that this has been a blessing to my family and the families of thousands of other elderly Keystoners. However, there is, I believe, a gap the size of our universe separating the environment created by installing lottery machines in convenience stores and opening grand casinos in once stable neighborhoods. Certainly there have been instances of robberies and hold-ups at the lottery sites. But thugs, drugs, prostitution, homelessness, drifters, thieves and all other manner of the dark side of our society will soon be overtaking the streets of Bethlehem. 
Good people fought very hard to push back against your hollow plans. It is a good thing they are still around and will be around when the inevitable and sinister results of your decisions come home to roost. They will be there to help the many who will suffer from these developments. I doubt that you will be. 


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