Thursday, October 30, 2008

Animal Suffering? Legalized Pimpin'? Slots? The Other Stuff On Tuesday's Ballot.

With the past twentysome months of campaigning, it's easy to sometimes forget that there's an undercard to Obama vs Biden next Tuesday. In addition to choosing the next President, all across the country, special ballot measures are being weighed by voters.

In California, voters will deliberate over a ballot initiative that calls for certain farm animals to be allowed to "fully extend their limbs or wings, lie down, stand up and turn around" for the majority of the day. In South Carolina, voters will decide whether to raise the age of sexual consent for girls from 14 to 16. In Oregon, an initiative on the ballot calling for "merit-based" pay for teachers has ignited fury among educators who say it is unfair and illogical.

But the oddest of all is this story from (where else?) San Francisco.

I'm all for liberalism, but this kinda nonsense makes we wanna register Republican. Well, not really, but c'mon, decriminalizing prostitution is just stoopid. You're basically legalizing pimpin' and all it's associated societal woes. I know this is a budgetary issue, but what does it say about a city when it basically says "eff it" and throws in the towel? This isn't too far removed from that whole "Hamsterdam" thing that one season on The Wire. What's next? Decriminalizing murder? Sheesh.

"And legaliiiiiiiize that endo!" [1]

On a far more mundane note, here in Maryland, we've got two important issues to decide on. One is early voting, which when you think about it is rather ironic. While the rest of the country (32 states) opened early voting weeks ago, The Old Line State will allow us to decide whether to allow early voting in 2012. How timely guys. Needless to say, considering the milelong lines I'm likely to encounter at my polling place on November 4th, I'm all for this one.

Less definitive is my stance on a far more controversial topic: slots.

In November, Maryland voters will decide whether or not the General Assembly can authorize expanded forms of gambling. The authorization will be restricted to a maximum of 5 sites that collectively will have no more than 15,000 slot terminals.

Opponents argue crime, traffic and other woes would accompany the 15,000 slot machines that voters will be asked to authorize.

Proponents say teachers, labor unions and other groups will start knocking on doors, telling of the hundreds of millions in revenue that slots could generate for the state budget.
I'm leaning towards voting for the slot machines. None of the 5 proposed locations is even remotely close to where I live, so there's no NIMBY sentiment here. I'm not a serious gamer, but when I'm in Vegas or Atlantic City, I like playing slots and blackjack. I bet in small amounts, and I never gamble with money I don't have. So, basically, I see slots in my home state as a fun occasional diversion. I'm not naive enough to actually expect these things to help fund schools. Studies by enough other states have proven this fiscal impact negligible at best.

The flipside is that some say slots attract crime, create traffic gridlock, prey upon the poor and minorities, and in many cases lead to gaming as a habit.


I can buy the points about traffic, but the others ring hollow. If crime picks up around casinos, that's an issue for local police to settle. Just like building a stadium for sports teams could presumably lead to increased drunk driving, police presence will need to be ramped up to handle the new element. And the part about casinos leading to habit forming, c'mon. Do people blame liquor stores for alcoholism?

That said, although I'm leaning toward voting "yes" for slots, I'm interested in hearing differing opinions. Who knows, the right argument might sway my decision. Weigh in you-know-where.

Question: Do you think slots are a good idea for the state of Maryland? Does your state have slots? What are the pros and cons? Are the folks of San Fran stoopid or is it just me? Should prostitution be legalized? What about legaliiiiiizin' that endo while you're at it?

Maryland Slots Referendum FAQ [WashPost]

San Francisco debates prostitution [ITV]

[1] I'm shocked that nobody was to "name that tune" last week when I dropped this same hip-hop quotable. Here's a hint: the artist ain't too far removed from The Yay Area himself. Somebody please guess this one. I'm losing faith in ya'll.

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