One of the most catastrophic recent economic events was Bernie Madoff’s dastardly scheme, which deceived and destroyed so many people. And what did the media label Mr. Madoff’s scam? “Casino Capitalism!”

Capitalism (like democracy) can be corrupted by greed and immorality. Can you think of a more damning or appropriate moniker for capitalism gone wrong then “Casino Capitalism”? What does that say about the hollow, get-something-for-nothing deceptions of the gambling industry when they are associated with the despicable, criminal actions of Bernie Madoff?

State-sponsored predatory gambling is essentially a corruption of democracy because it violates the basic premise that we can trust the other people because were all in this together. That’s what a compact of citizenship is.

A serious departure from that compact is deceiving vulnerable citizens into thinking they are going to get rich when they are really going to be paying our taxes.

Because of the tough economic times in which we live, a lot of attention is being paid to how the government spends tax revenues (rightly so). Yet how we raise those revenues indicates what our democratic values are as much as how we spend citizens’ money. Are we really so desperate that we rely upon deeming some of our most susceptible citizens expendable by preying upon their weaknesses and addictions?

Christina Binkley, author of “Winner Takes All,” discovered that 90 percent of all gambling revenues consistently come from 10 percent of its patrons. The predators of the gambling industry use high-tech tracking to identify irresponsible gamblers who will play themselves into extinction.

There is no question of whether there will be casualties when it comes to casino expansion in a state. The debate will be  how many Mainers will suffer.

Please tell me what the acceptable number of ruined lives is in order to build our schools and pave our roads.

Carroll L. Conley Jr., Glenburn

Casinos and
their promoters work 24/7 to lure in gullible people with dreams of riches. We have two referendum questions on next month’s ballot. Question 2 would allow a racetrack and racino in Biddeford and Washington County. Question 3 would allow a casino in Lewiston. 

There is already a racino in Bangor, and a casino has been approved for Oxford. We’ve seen fanciful renderings of what the casino in Oxford and the racino in Biddeford “might” look like. 

Massachusetts is in the process of approving a casino. Can New Hampshire be far behind?

With all the competition for gamblers, the casinos in Oxford and Washington Countries could probably be housed in a couple of unsold double wide trailers. Whether you call them casinos or racinos, they are rotten deals for Maine.

In 2003 I wrote an essay called “Buying a Pig in a Poke,” about the proposed Sanford casino. Nothing has changed except the locations. 

Maine didn’t buy it then. Maine shouldn’t buy it now.  Casinos are a rotten deal.

Rev. Carleton Gunn, Sanford

If people
vote Yes on Questions 2 and 3, we are told, expanding gambling in Maine will create hundreds of jobs in construction and casino operations, causing a ripple effect surge throughout the economy. And millions of dollars will be raised every year in tax revenues to benefit state and local programs well worthy of support. What’s not to like?

Here’s what: To raise millions in revenue and support hundreds of new jobs, we (our state, our society) must entice people to gamble hundreds of millions of dollars every year – and lose. Normally, we Mainers encourage each other to work hard for our money, spend some wisely and save the rest. Now we have to promote the message that it’s wonderful to put your hard-earned money on the casino table in the hope of winning a windfall against astronomical odds so that we can tempt our friends and neighbors into losing lots of money. Dream a little, dream a lot. Dream on.

It won’t be enough to victimize ourselves. We will have to attract suckers from beyond our borders: Massachusetts, Canada and New York. The ideal Maine tourist will be a Saudi prince with a gambling addiction.

Enticing people to become suckers for our economic benefit is both irresponsible and immoral. Let’s not go any farther down this road. Vote No on questions 2 and 3. Let’s find honorable ways to grow the economy, create good jobs and fund the programs and services we need.

David Paul Henry, Lamoine

Maine’s job market needs boost from  expanded gaming

For 20 plus years, the news has featured stories of jobs leaving Maine. Monday (Oct. 17) we learned Lowe’s in Biddeford is history. A hundred people out the door with little or no advance warning! Lowe’s in Ellsworth – closing soon!

On Oct. 11, it was announced that even more Mainers will be out of work: 65 in Bangor (Global Contract), 125 in Bucksport (Verso Paper) and 71 in Portland (Barber Foods).

The owners and managers of these  firms say how sorry they are for these “difficult decisions” and note how great the Maine work force is.

The bottom line – counting all five shutdowns – hundreds of great workers are out of a job. This trend will not end, no matter who the governor is or who serves in the legislature.

It’s the Pine Tree State “too’s”: Maine is too far away, taxes are too high, heat bills are excessive, the regulatory environment is difficult.

This is the true “raw deal” for the workers affected recently – and there will be more!

We need jobs in Maine now. These jobs must be generated here, by existing Maine businesses. Entrepreneurs are not moving from Carolina to here; it’s the reverse (Burt’s Bees).

Should we sit around and pray for clean, high-tech “professional” jobs to come here? Don’t hold your breath. Boost the businesses already here or new ones supported by Mainers, like the proposed Biddeford racino.

Biddeford has been crushed by globalization. The beautiful blankets made there for decades are made in China and elsewhere.

Mainers spend too much time hoping for unreal scenarios. A job at a racino ticket counter is better than no job.

Steve Anderson, Old Orchard Beach