Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Gary Palmer: Questions that need to be asked

  According to some of the latest polls, a majority of Alabamians have decided that legalizing bingo casinos is now a good idea.  Interestingly, according to one recent poll, only 2.5 percent of Alabamians rank legalizing bingo casinos as a top priority for the 2010 Alabama State Legislative Session.

  Accurate polling results depend on eliminating biases that could possibly skew the results. For example, bias can be introduced into a poll by directing a majority of calls to a certain group that the pollster knows will lean in a certain direction. Bias can also be introduced in the type questions that are asked, how they are asked and even the order the questions are asked.

  On the issue of legalizing gambling, if the question is phrased in the context of taxing and regulating an activity that is already taking place or the entire issue is framed as a matter of jobs and revenues, the response could be biased.

  Something else to consider is that most people are never interviewed for a poll, thus a poll is only a snapshot of what the general public might be thinking. More than likely, the majority of people who read this column have never been interviewed by a pollster and have never had the chance to give an opinion. Well… here is your chance to, at least mentally, participate in a poll.

  The following are questions on the issue of bingo casinos that I believe most Alabamians have not been asked. These are the questions that should be asked and the answers to them will determine much of the future of our state.

1) According to a U.S. Justice Department report, Alabama ranks fourth in the nation in public corruption. In addition, The Birmingham News  and other media outlets have reported that convicted former Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford is alleged to have made hundreds of trips to a bingo casino and won over $1.5 million on allegedly “fixed” machines. Given Alabama’s high ranking in public corruption and these allegations, do you believe legalizing bingo casinos will:

A. Reduce public corruption
B. Increase public corruption
C. Public corruption will remain the same
D. No opinion

2) Given that millions of campaign contributions are hidden from Alabama voters by transferring the money through hundreds of political action committees (PACs), including millions of gambling interests’ campaign contributions to Alabama candidates, do you believe legalizing bingo casinos will result in:

A. An increase in deceitful funding of politicians
B. A decrease in deceitful funding of politicians
C. No change in deceitful funding of politicians
D. No opinion

3) The Alabama State Supreme Court has issued clear guidelines that define legal bingo in Alabama. Given that two circuit court judges and the Supreme Court have ruled that the electronic bingo machines are illegal, should the state:

A. Enforce the law in order to maintain respect for our state’s laws
B. Ignore the law and undermine respect for our state’s laws
C. Change the law as a reward for years of lawless behavior
D. No opinion

4) From fiscal year 2003-2004 to fiscal year 2007-2008, Alabama’s state revenues increased by $2.1 billion dollars, a 30.4 percent increase. Despite warnings that the state could not expect revenues to continue to grow, requests for greater transparency in budgeting and the creation of a budget reserve (Rainy Day Fund) to be used when revenues decline, the Alabama State Legislature spent every dime and passed budgets higher than projected revenues. If given millions of dollars in gambling revenues by legalizing bingo casinos, do you believe Alabama legislators will be:

A. More responsible and transparent with state spending
B. Less responsible and less transparent with state spending
C. Neither more nor less responsible and transparent with state spending
D. No opinion

5) Ads run by the supporters of bingo casinos promise a brighter future for Alabama, which is what the people of Mississippi were promised in the early ‘90s when casinos were legalized. Yet, after almost 18 years of casino gambling, Mississippi still has the highest poverty in the nation, the lowest per capita income in the nation and the gross state product (a measure of their economy) is 40 percent less than Alabama’s gross state product. Given these facts, do you believe legalizing bingo casinos will:

A. Help Alabama’s economy
B. Hurt Alabama’s economy
C. Not make any difference
D. No opinion

6) When considering your answers to the above questions, do you:

A. Favor legalizing bingo casinos
B. Oppose legalizing bingo casinos
C. No opinion

7) When considering legislators who support bingo casinos and are running for re-election in the upcoming 2010 elections, would you be:

A. More likely to vote for them and encourage others to vote for them
B. Less likely to vote for them and encourage others to vote against them
C. No opinion

  This is certainly not a scientific poll; however, I believe these questions are really at the core of the debate over gambling in Alabama… questions that supporters of legalizing bingo casinos do not want you to consider. Each person must draw their own conclusions, but when it comes right down to it, I believe people in Alabama know that legalizing bingo casinos will fundamentally change Alabama in ways most of us do not want.

  About the author: Gary Palmer is president of the Alabama Policy Institute, a non-partisan, non-profit research and education organization dedicated to the preservation of free markets, limited government and strong families, which are indispensable to a prosperous society.  

1 comment:

  1. I am so tired of this author using "we" in his articles, implying that "we" all share his arch-conservative, faux Christian opinions and values. "We" most certainly do not. And, once again, the author misuses and abuses statistical information when it suits him to bolster what can only humourously be described as his "arguments." Palmer should leave science to scientists and statistics to statisticians. The author is in fact nothing more than a country preacher with a conservative agenda trying to pass himself off as a reasoned and unbiased observer. He should have the courage to quit pretending he's something other than his real self.