Andie Gernon’s letter encouraging volunteers for Clover Park Schools actually contained the most compelling argument against allowing Casinos in Lakewood that I’ve seen. She writes:
Poverty is the single biggest predictor of school failure, low birth weight, teen pregnancy and many other societal ills. Numerous Lakewood children (63% of students) in poverty, without a single book in the home and with one or both parents absent, abusive or on drugs. In many district schools, over 90% of students live in poverty.
With 64% of the students in poverty, it must mean that a good percentage of the Lakewood adult population lives in poverty too. And it is those very folks living in poverty who will frequent the casinos hoping that “lady luck” will allow them somehow to escape the poverty and live with their needs provided and maybe even a few luxuries. Casino owners will always make a profit, their systems are designed to guarantee that. And their profits will come at the expense of those who are desperately trying to make it. Some have made bad choices, some just didn’t get their lives together, some have gotten into addictions, and some are just struggling. Statistics show that most people are just a few paychecks from being in poverty; a catastrophic illness, losing a job, or any number of unforeseen circumstances could land any one of us in a similar position.
So not only are too great a number of the citizens of Lakewood already in poverty, they are likely to become even more impoverished as a result of the casinos. (No one actually believes that casino goers around the world are going to be making Lakewood top on their list of places to gamble, do they? Of course not. It will be predominately filled with locals.) And if Ms. Gernon’s statement is correct, that poverty is “the single biggest predictor of school failure, low birth weight, teen pregnancy and many other societal ills,” the spiral downward is only going to continue.
In light of these things, why would any responsible community and their leadership support bringing such a corrupting and parasitic influence within its borders? For a few casino jobs and some taxes on the casino? What a poor gamble, if you’ll pardon the intended pun. Why not attract businesses that build the community and that can raise the economic and social standards of the area instead of lowering them?
We should be helping our neighbors, not helping a casino to fleece them.
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