Monday, June 22, 2009

Send in the clowns? Don't bother... they're here.

The anti-casino jackasses are hosting an "anti-casino circus" on June 25. This they say with no hint of irony. Isn't it rich? Don't you agree..?

This unholy ad hoc alliance of bigoted, risk-averse merchants, overextended real estate speculators and (primarily) religious zealots is continuing their malformed hissy fit against legal commerce, jobs and desperately-needed tax revenue. Each group has its own agenda and I don't like any of them. Philadelphia wallows in poverty and unemployment and these people rally against jobs by the thousand.

Why is the storefront these people are holding the event at empty? Because that area of Center City is dead or dying. Because there's no "big box" store or other tenant to rent the large space the casino would occupy, and the surrounding retail real estate can't generate enough of a crowd keep shops open. Maybe if there were several hundred people gainfully employed next door at all hours of the day and night, and thousands of customers entering the Strawbridge building daily, there'd be a functioning business in the storefront generating even more jobs in the space that is currently only hosting the world's least entertaining circus.

We get the (wholly unsupported) claim that the casino, which would be limited to slot machines already as a concession to the anti-gambling jihadists, would produce "crime." You know what "crime" means in this context, right? It means brown people. The Chinese and Center City whites are scared crapless that black people would be encouraged to venture beyond the Gallery, and after 7pm. Can't have that. Center City is a sundown town.

How can we possibly claim that Chinatown has no crime now? Aside from the widespread prostitution (human trafficking no less, i.e. slavery), there have been shootings over bus turf and the usual combination of illegal immigration/organized crime and drug trafficking that you get anytime poor immigrants crowd into an ethnic neighborhood. Gambling is hugely popular in Chinese culture, and just as most of the Irish bars in my neighborhood (which also opposed a casino, or at least the non-working class transplants did...) contain their own bookies behind the bar, I'm sure there are myriads of gambling opportunities in Chinatown already that you and I just don't know about. There probably isn't an established ethnic group in the city without its own bookies.

As best as I can determine, Chinatown merchants are upset over legal gambling in the neighborhood because they don't get a cut, and because there'd be more food vending competition.

The exploitation of labor that goes on in the area must be unimaginable; I suspect that recent immigrants in many cases are indentured servants trying to work off the fees for getting them into the country, and I'm willing to bet that established business owners reap profit off of that labor on the scale of antebellum plantations.

Those are things I don't imagine the Asian-American groups will be publishing press releases on anytime soon. No, it's Chinatown, Jake, and things are just jake.

Since when does a large 24/7 business make a neighborhood more dangerous? That's just stupid. Three shifts = safe streets at all hours.

I've had about enough of the Chinatown bloackage of everything in the vicinity that might appeal to the non-Chinese business owners as well. First a sensible baseball stadium proposal shot down and now this. Anyone who keeps their kids from being able to walk five minutes to a ball game needs their head examined; that's child abuse!

Maybe all the non-Asian folks who "ruin" the delicate intracracies of the neighborhood by visiting it should stay away from the restaurants. It would take about a month of a general restaurant boycott to render the neighborhood a shuttered slum with a flatlining economy. Chinatown isn't "vibrant" because of monoculture, it's vibrant because of the non-Chinese people who expose themselves to something different and spend money there. Hopeless ghettos without commerce have monocultures. Chinatown shouldn't dicatate when and how the rest of us would be allowed to walk the streets of our own city, open a business, work an honest job or recreate legally. There's a word for insisting that non-Chinese-owned businesses shouldn't be allowed in or near the neighborhood: racism.

A look at the members of the coalition yields a large number of evangelical churches, surely the "Greatest Scam on Earth" rather than casinos. I've never seen anyone leave a church with more money than they went in with, but I have seen that at a casino. As George Carlin said, God loves you, but he has a problem managing his money. Always needs a bit more...

People who claim to know the will of an invisible omnipotent sky tyrant who can read your very thoughts and use that to make a living by controlling others' lives at a deeply personal psychological level have precious little room to call anything else a "scam." I've seen slot machines pay out, I have yet to see water turn into wine or a talking bush. And I have yet to figure out why God needs a 10% cut of an old lady's SSI check. Rubbing salt in the wound, churches don't pay property taxes. These snake oil charlatans aren't content just withholding a fair portion of their prophet profit from the school district, our libraries, our cops, parks and firehouses, they want to make sure that no other legal business contributes, either. Who Would Jesus Shortchange?

I'd be curious as to how many of these churches have held raffles, bingo nights and casino nights on their "non-commercial", tax-free property.

People who don't claim any responsibilty to come up with an alternative plan for a single job or a single dollar in municipal revenue are bashing the city and the casinos for not having a "comprehensive plan" to address their imaginary concerns. A massive dose of hubris ensues to claim that creating all of this commerce is economics "without a net." How are continued high unemployment and empty city coffers a sound fiscal policy?

Don't bother, they're heeeeeeeeere....
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