VIEW FROM AFAR- Pushing for a tax on the poor and stupid may have merit

Bob Knight the “Music Man” from Wichita did his song and dance routine brilliantly for the Marion County Commissioners.

He painted them a picture of a casino with 2,500 jobs and a 12-story hotel generating tax revenue beyond their wildest dreams.

And all they had to do was allow a few tiny slot machines, roulette wheels and poker games to come into the county.

Bedazzled by the promises of such riches, the commissioners said, “Shucks, lets ask the voters if they approve. Doesn’t cost much to send them all a postcard.”

This casino plans seems reasonable. After all, the middle class and rich folks have been taxed to the hilt with income and property taxes. Even “sin” is now taxed to the breaking point with booze, cigarettes and gasoline costing extra to pay for the damage they create.

Legalized gambling is the perfect solution. Instead of taxing “sin,” sell it directly.

Gambling is a tax on the poor and the stupid. These folks just haven’t been paying their fair share.

Thinking positively, imagine that the referendum passes and a casino is approved for Marion County. All that remains then is to find the best location for the new cash cow.

Converting a local grain elevator to a 12-story hotel is feasible and the results would be dramatic. Plus, “The Co-op Casino” has a nice ring to it. But I am told the elevators are being used year round and none are available.

Marion Reservoir has potential for development. One could plop a giant riverboat in the middle and run gangplanks to all four shores for easy access. (But I think parking would be a problem.)

Any of the county’s retirement centers would be an excellent choice. Lots of older folks get up at night and have nothing to do. They could amble over to the gaming room and play slots at 3 in the morning and spend their kids’ inheritance while waiting for their breakfast to be prepared.

Pilsen is an option for a casino with a polka band and bingo theme.

Another option is to push ahead with a landfill in Marion County and put the casino on top of it. That way everything that stinks would be in one place.

Or let the Arts and Crafts Fair people take over the entire operation. These ladies are geniuses at finding a place for 4,000 cars to park once a year in Hillsboro and they understand hospitality and crowd control. But they only work on this one-day a year. Let them use their expertise for the other 364 days.

Some of the local churches are building in the suburbs and putting in huge parking lots. But these are used primarily on Sunday morning. Perhaps, the casino could share their parking lot and be called the Saints and Sinners Casino. Everybody would win. The casino gets cheaper parking. The church has more money for missions.

(Plus the bad lounge acts that do contemporary worship music could find extra employment in the casino entertainment stage on Saturday night.)

Tabor College should take note and consider inviting the casino to campus. This would provide employment for students, plus internships and offer a chance to expand the business program to include a master’s level degree in gaming. (Plus the cafeteria and snack bar could stay open all night.)

I suspect the final location of a casino in Marion County will provoke some hate and discontent. Every landowner dreams of selling off 60 acres of his junk land for a fantastic price and retiring early. Every city council dreams of free money. Every gas station owner dreams of thousands of cars driving past his pumps.

Let me offer a gentle solution for the fight over the location of the casino. The county commissioners are considering building a new county jail. Why not build a multi-plex and use the courthouse as a dramatic entrance for the casino and build the jail at the opposite end of the casino?

That way, if any of the millions of visitors to Marion County decided to act the fool when losing at the craps table, they could just be escorted down the hall.

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