Pick a vice, any vice … As long as it’s our vice

Craig Hall, Publisher
Craig Hall, Publisher

There’s more trouble coming up the river from River City. This time it rhymes not with P, but rather with G. And that stands for gambling. And this time it’s brought to you by your local Republican Party.

It appears Democrats, liberals and progressives aren’t the only purveyors of panacea. After all, when it comes to benefitting the few, favored constituents, collecting extra tax dollars and claiming to solve all of the economic problems of the country, both parties are more than happy to jump in feet first. “Damn the unintended consequences, thar’s votes and tax dollars in them thar hills!” In other words: political gold. And in the hills in question lie the utopia for tourism, jobs and tax base in the state according to our local Republicans: DeBeque?

I’m not against gambling or here to disparage DeBeque in this column, although its leadership might take some hits. After all, I don’t live there. I only do what millions of others do on an annual basis — and that is the main complaint of local leadership — I simply drive by exit 62. And there you have all the reason you need to add a few casinos, according to the DeBeque Wild Horse Gaming Committee, since you know, the government would never pass a law requiring we all must stop there and buy something we don’t want, would it?

Well, no, that’s not the only reason. Another is the complaint that DeBeque’s economy has become too focused on the energy industry and its up and down, boom and bust, cycles. Or was it the ranching industry that left town? Perhaps it was the lumber industry? Who knows which of these industries were the reason the “bustling town” that once boasted bars, restaurants and a thriving Main Street, all of which seem to be abandoned or closed today.

It’s the ultimate irony that DeBeque is looking to the same entity that probably caused its problems to gain permission to once again become an economy based on a single industry.

Now that’s not how this is being sold by our local representatives, Steve King and Ray Scott. Gambling will bring jobs, tourism and tax revenue to the entire Western Slope, which has “lagged behind the rest of the state in economic recovery.” So I guess now it’s time to do something about it for the favored 500 or so citizens of DeBeque, deemed the winner in another venture where the government picks winners and losers. Because after all, picking which vice is worthy and which vice is not based on tax revenues is government at its finest.

Oh, there will be winners. Soon there will be profits for the select few on the Wild Horse committee. There will profits for the casino owners. There will be taxes for the state coffers — even though most of those will be from cutting off its own nose. But at least our local guys will be able to brag they brought some of that over here instead of the other side of the mountain, along with some jobs.

And there will be losers, like the rest of the folks in Debeque who don’t want gambling beyond the 251 that perhaps do. There will be all of the tagalong industries that go along with gambling. But most of these industries just bring along with them problems of crime, addiction and other maladies that the government seems to be in the business of not really solving. Maybe this whole thing is a scheme so King can hire more deputies, assuming he wins election to Mesa County sheriff, to police the problem he very well could help create with the passage of this bill. And, of course, riding King’s coattails to his Senate seat will be Scott. Taking credit for allowing enterprise to be free and creating jobs is a classic political strategy.

Regardless, gambling will not solve the problems of Debeque any more than prostitution, pot or any other vice-based idea. It is just another revenue stream that government controls and doles out as it pleases. Otherwise, why does government continue to be the only ones that can make gambling legal? If it’s such a great economic boom, why not let everyone in the state operate a casino? Or a pot shop, brothel or bar. O smoke anywhere, everywhere 24/7? After all, any of those vice-based enterprises are great for jobs, tourism and tax base according to the criteria, are they not?

DeBeque’s answer lies in FREE enterprise, something foreign to both political parties any longer. But after watching our state and country screw up domestic energy and so many other policies, I have little hope.

Which is why I can actually see this asinine bill passing, so that in time, we can all drink, smoke, gamble and fornicate to our hearts’ content. It makes things easier to control. Then pass a law that requires every town in America to be located on a reservation and utopia is achieved. For government.