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A bad bet

A bad bet

A bad bet


“We’re better off without the
Commonwealth as a partner.”

Massachusetts is facing a serious financial squeeze, and no one seems to know how to generate the needed revenue during an economic decline.

At the state level, the subsidized Commonwealth Care health insurance plan is under-funded. Costs have surged past the $869 million for premium subsidies and administrative costs proposed in the 2009 budget. The solution seems to be to make the health plans costlier for consumers. However, the objective of a mandated health plan is to keep the premium costs affordable.

Cities and towns have also been suffering. The Boston Public Schools have been struggling with a $30 million budget shortfall. Even upscale towns like Brookline are proposing school staff reductions, including teachers and guidance counselors, and a substantial increase in the fees parents must pay for their children to participate in sports.

Despite these financial problems, the state Legislature voted to defeat Gov. Deval Patrick’s casino bill. According to a study by the Center for Policy Analysis at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, Massachusetts residents spent $1.1 billion at casinos in Connecticut and Rhode Island last year and generated $233 million in tax revenue for those states.

Citizens worried about the danger of gambling addiction should understand that those prone to addiction already have casinos in nearby states. And when they return to Massachusetts with their problem, state taxpayers still have to foot the bill for their cure without benefit of the revenues from gambling.

Members of the House have made a bet of more than $100 million per year that the Mashpee Wampanoag Indians will not get federal approval to build a casino in Marlborough. They base their bet on the mistaken belief that Marlborough is not part of their tribal land.

The Wampanoags have lived continuously throughout Barnstable and Plymouth counties for more than 370 years, but their claims to land under the Indian Trade and Intercourse Act of 1790 have failed in the past. However, that was before they were federally recognized as an Indian tribe. There has to be a federal recognition of some land as a trust reserve or there will be a flood of lawsuits challenging titles at least in the Mashpee area. Anglos with holdings in New Seabury and Willow Bend will see to it that the trust reserve is established to protect the titles to their own property.

If the House loses its bet, then Massachusetts will be left out of the casino boom, just as happened in Florida when that state’s legislature refused to cooperate.

Media wronged Rev. Wright

Some distinguished preachers in the black church are known for their fire-and-brimstone sermons. While they vigorously condemn racial abuse in America, their sermons tend to mollify the pent up anger of their parishioners rather than inspire hatred against whites.

Rev. Jeremiah Wright has earned national respect from both blacks and whites for his preaching talents, even receiving three Presidential Commendations from Lyndon B. Johnson. But the snippet from one of his sermons shown repeatedly on television of late allegedly shows him to be unpatriotic.

“The government gives [African Americans] the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law and then wants us to sing ‘God Bless America,'” he said. “No, no, no, God damn America, that’s in the Bible for killing innocent people.”

That was part of a 2003 sermon that discussed the abuse of African Americans by the U.S. government from slavery onward and the biblical injunction against such conduct. In context, the statement is not what media reports have characterized it to be.

Rev. Wright’s style of preaching does not appeal to everyone, not even all African Americans, so it is easy to understand why whites would not take to it. Once again, the media have been derelict in their duties, moving toward the sensational rather than reporting the matter fairly.

Of course, it is possible that some believe the government has always performed with such perfection that any criticism is unpatriotic.