Christmas advertisements are already popping up, and Kmart, among others chains, would like you to know that they’ve brought back a holiday standby to help you be a better consumer — layaway. You’ll pay a nominal fee and a small down payment will hold your item until you have the cash to pay for it entirely.
You remember cash. Layaway is just like credit, but you actually have the money that the credit only implies you might eventually have. Stores have returned to cash purchases because our economy is on the verge of creating a new holiday story, “The Bailed-Out Wall Street Banks Who Stole Christmas.”
Sadly, after about 20 years of predatory and downright stupid lending, the economy of the wealthiest nation on Earth collapsed because of frivolous financial deals and a greedy stock market that devoured them.
The most remarkable thing about Wall Street’s investments was how darn sure they were that we, the people whose money they used, couldn’t lose. Congressmen, bankers, on- and off-shore investors, mortgage lenders and all the rest of the “safe” money people used economic science and financial calculus to determine it was safe. But they screwed up and we went bust.
Then the government, which forgot to be the voters’ best friend, rescued the failed bankers and now you sit, reading a newspaper, which in moments you may ball up and put inside your shirt to keep you warm. Perhaps you wonder why you listened to those talking heads who spent millions to tell you whom to trust to protect your family — but were instead telling you what they needed you to think the way they do so they could make themselves rich.
And now, it’s happening again. Election Day is 20 days away and folks without your best interest at heart are telling you what things are bad for you. Like the folks against Question 1.
But first, I must tell you — just like a U.S. Senate candidate from Delaware — I am not a witch. I am, however, a former spokesperson for the 2008 casino initiative ballot question, and even though I’m not on the payroll, I’m still in favor of an Oxford County casino.
If folks want to outlaw gambling, they should focus on Wall Street not Main Street, where the average person is struggling. And in Oxford County, the picture’s been bleak for a while. The economy has brought the rest of the country into line with its 10 percent unemployment rate.
Quickly, here’s why you should vote yes on Question 1. Then, we can focus on the agenda of those who are against it.
Jobs, jobs, jobs, education and fairness are the big reasons. Mainers need jobs and our kids need educations, and Question 1 will provide one and help pay for the other. Additionally, Maine people have voted against the tribes time and again, and that’s always been wrong no matter what the issue. Question 1 will give millions of dollars to Maine’s tribal governments to provide services to their people. As far as I’m concerned, that’s reason enough.
Now for the no people. I was hoping to take aim at CasinosNo! over this, but they’ve been relatively quiet. The alleged “moral” argument against casino jobs and tourism seems to have vanished. It hasn’t, it’s just been swamped by the “I got mine” argument.
Along with other members of the opposition who already benefit from gambling in Maine, Bangor’s own Hollywood Slots is fighting against Question 1. It’s not that they necessarily hate the poor in western Maine — and it’s certainly not because they’re against gambling — they just want every other gambling dollar that the state lottery doesn’t already get.
Trust me, as a former spokesperson in favor of jobs, tourism, resort destinations and personal liberties in Maine, I used to get furious at CasinosNo!’s “holier than thou” attitude. But I find that far more tolerable than “we’re making millions in Penobscot County so who cares if Oxford County starves.”
Remember those folks who spend millions to tell you whom to trust so they can amass wealth aren’t just on Wall Street. Stop voting for the agenda of others and vote for your fellow Mainer. Vote Yes on 1.
Pat LaMarche of Yarmouth is the author of “Left Out In America: The State of Homelessness in the United States.” She may be reached at PatLaMarche@hotmail.com.