Monday, September 21, 2009

Senator Pacheco is Wrong About Barrow

First off, let me just preface all of this by saying I have an enormous amount of respect for Senator Pacheco. I consider him an ally on many issues. He was essential, for example, in passing several bills last year to help combat Global Warming and grow green jobs, making Massachusetts an environmental leader again. He's just very, very wrong on the topic of casinos. Sadly, he's misinformed on that topic, too.

A constituent of his and friend of mine sent Senator Pacheco a message today, including a link to my last blog. Pacheco has had Clyde Barrow on his monthly show and frequently uses Barrow's research as evidence for the need to build casinos in Massachusetts. Here's what Senator Pacheco had to say:
From: Pacheco, Marc (SEN) <>
Subject: Re: Cyde Barrow
To: [redacted]
Date: Monday, September 21, 2009, 9:16 AM

Professor Barrows has NOT received any funding from the Gaming industry
I'm sorry to have to tell the Senator this, but he's completely misinformed. Barrow took no less than $15,000 from Maine's Yes on 2 campaign in 2008, under the guise of Pyramid Associates. Furthermore, from the same link, Clyde Barrow's Center for Policy Analysis itself takes money from the industry -- and that fact comes straight from Barrow's own research papers. So not only is Barrow personally on the take, but his Center's research depends on the funding it receives from their "clients."

It's hard to blame Pacheco for being misinformed, though, because Clyde Barrow danced around the issue and failed to answer the question of whether he's taken money or not, when he was asked at a state house hearing by Senator Tucker.

Senator Pacheco has a race track in his district. That track is very important to him -- which is understandable. He's actually being a good legislator in defending his district's interests. However, just because the track is important to his district doesn't mean he should be making decisions when he's clearly misinformed.

Since Clyde Barrow has been so important to Senator Pacheco's rational behind supporting slots in Massachusetts, the Senator should at the very least hold off on a yes vote until the state commissions an unbiased, comprehensive look at casinos in Masssachusetts -- or, at the very least, until he reads the work of Professors Goodman, Grinols and/or Kindt.


Middleboro Remembers said...

Nice job, Ryan!

I have supported the Senator, campaigned for him and will continue to do so on all other issues except this one.

Maybe Clyde Barrow has misled everyone except the gambling industry.

We need to find a better solution to restore our economy.

Anonymous said...

They haven't printed the ballots to replace Teddy, why not add the question as a non-binding ballot choice. (Not that anything that goes on the ballot is binding to our legislators anyway) Then we could gage public sentiment. I enjoy casinos and wish I didn't have to drive so far, and my money would stay in this state.

Anonymous said...

Your money would stay in the state if you'd just keep it in your pocket and find something else locally to spend it on.

Anonymous said...

I dutifully but my lottery tickets to support the state, but there's nothing like the ding,ding ding of 3 7's. And it's my money to entertain myself as I see fit. I also go to the Hanover theatre, the Centrum, Worc Art Museum. But why not put it on the ballot?

Ryan said...

Anon, I fully agree that you should have the right to gamble. I've never said we should ban gambling. This state offers myriad forms of legalized gambling to suit many of the tastes of gamblers out there, but it doesn't allow the most addicting form that ruins the most lives -- and not just those who actually choose to gamble, but small business owners, members of the nearby community, family and friends of addicts, etc. Slots literally double the rate of addiction within 50 miles of the casino -- and that's nonpartisan, federal numbers.

Keeping the casinos out of this state keeps the worst impacts of them out, too. It's not that far for you to drive to get to RI or Connecticut and we don't really "lose" any money to them, as putting casinos in Massachusetts would drive a great companies out of business and many more to cut wages and benefits, spurn growth and lay off members of their workforce. From a Federal Reserve Bank of Boston study: up to 75% of a casino's income is merely redistributed from the local economy. Chasing down that other 25% would have disastrous impacts on our local businesses, the lifeblood of any community and economy. Our state should be after job creation that doesn't leech off the jobs we already have, many of them struggling already to get by (most restaurants have a very small profit margin).

Anonymous said...

I say let RI and CT pay the costs of subsidizing these predators! Fine by me.

Anonymous said...

Jobs? Jobs?
I'm tired of buying imported junk that no one is responsable for.It falls apart.Its tainted with chemicals or lead.Clothing doesnt fit,shreds at the seams,stitches fall out.Chinese drywall made people sick.We bought stainless steel deck screws that broke or rusted.Shoes have 'leather' of undetermined origin.Probably animals skinned while they're alive.Towels made in China ravelled at the salvege so badly they looked like they had fringe.They were NOT cheap.Wicker furniture made in China developed a fungus.This jobs issue is phony!The last piece of Chinese made junk costing +$300 was just returned.
Give me an American made quality product and I'll pay a premium to know it will last.Change the tax code to encourage US manufacturing and this household will buy things again.
Beacon Hill needs to Stop talking about creating gambling jobs and smell the coffee.

Anonymous said...

What about adding it to the ballot, why is that a bad idea?

Ryan said...

Ballot questions are generally not such hot items. People can't be experts. That's why we pay politicians the big bucks (okay, the middling bucks). We have a representative democracy for a reason. I'm not going to say there isn't a time and a place for ballot questions, but generally I think they're bad ideas, especially when special interests have so much money to confuse the issue.

Anonymous said...

But it was OK to use them to shut down dog racing and ban trapping beavers? You are so slippery Ryan it's amazing. When it works for you it's good, when not it's because the populace is stupid. You are such a "progressive" elitist.

Ryan said...

Again, I don't really like ballot questions. However, like I said, I can occasionally see some reason for them. Sometimes things in life aren't black and white.

The dog track ballot question was an excellent example. The first time around, when it lost one of the smallest margins in this state's history, it wasn't exceptionally well organized, the question wasn't perfect and they weren't prepared for the well-run, well-funded campaign against them.

Instead of going home, they spent *years* educating people, working out the question, building their grassroots movement and convincing people across the state. It was true grassroots and people generally knew what was what. It wasn't some question thrown on this state.

So, I much prefer people movements to corporate movements. I much prefer grassroots campaigns that tried for years to do something, but couldn't through the legislative process, because of powerful lobbies. Honestly, that's what ballot questions should be there for -- there are a lot of issues Beacon Hill won't touch with a 10 yard stick; regular people should have some kind of recourse.

Again, that's not perfect. It's hard to code the questions in a way that ensures what I said, above, occurs -- that it isn't driven by corporate interests, isn't thrown on the state and isn't driven by lies and deception. Take this year's past income tax question: the opposition was telling Massachusetts citizens we could cut the deficit in half and wouldn't have to cut aid to local communities. It was pure and utter bullshit -- if they didn't go quite so far, totally getting rid of the income tax, they probably could have succeeded, because enough people would have believed that bullshit. That's why ballot questions are dangerous.

Ryan said...

PS: Honestly, if I had my choice, if there were a ballot question vote that read thus, "Should Massachusetts citizens be able to change law via ballot questions?" I would vote no, voting to get rid of them. Until that happens, though, I will weigh them individually, looking at the issue as a matter of fairness, looking at how the question would impact the state, looking at whether there's legislative avenues that could be pursued first and, finally, looking at who's driving the campaign and the tactics they've used (I'm not really anti-corporate so much as I am anti-dishonesty and bad policy... for example, I actually voted yes on allowing supermarkets to sell beer and wine... and blogged that issue).

Anonymous said...

"Should there be casino gambling allowed in Mass" seems simple enough for me. We had enough wildlife experts to ban leg trapping, so throw that question out there.

Ryan said...

No, it's not simple. It's a very complex policy question. We have representative democracy for a reason: we can't all be so ingratiated on every important and wonky issue.

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