11.04.2011

LePage masquerades as pro-business


When asked at a Colby College event where the governor stands on the casino referendum questions, LePage stated he doesn't think Maine's population can support five casinos and that he encourages voting No.


If passed, Question 2 will allow gambling facilities in both Biddeford and Washington County. Question 3 will allow the development of a casino in Lewiston.

LePage's statements drew the attention of Democrat Mayor Larry Gilbert of Lewiston.

"I think he put up a sign that said, 'Open for business.' Well, this is a business. This will bring economic development and jobs. Let the free market determine how many casinos suffice. Let the free-enterprise system work, and see what happens," Gilbert said.

Indeed.

Maine has a population of 1.3 million. So that would be 260,000 people per casino. Nevada has a population of 2.6 million and about 190 casinos. It appears Nevada can support the casinos with only 13,500 people per. Both states have a significant tourism industries. In Maine it constitutes 28% of GDP. In Nevada it's 12.3%. Gambling also tends to be popular among older people with time and money to spend. Nevada's median age is about 35, Maine's is 42.

Not that we want dozens or hundreds of casinos, but I think our state is more than capable of handling five. Likewise, a governor who claims to be a pro-business capitalist is in no position to dictate whether a business will do well.

Part of being a capitalist or free-marketeer is admitting to oneself that the economy is an incredibly complex web of matter and forces and difficult to steer successfully, if at all. 

LePage is a social conservative who bases his decisions on value judgments instead of science. Libertarians may have been willing to overlook his stances on social policy, prioritizing candidates based on economic views - but just because a GOP statesman can parrot the party line on broad economic positions like localism, doesn't mean he'll make sound calls on micro-policy issues that actually cross his desk.

4 Intelligent Comment(s):

Kat Rainville said...

All economics aside, what about the social aspects of casinos? There are behavioral issues that come with casinos - addiction being the primary risky one. Is Maine going to provide behavioral addiction recovery programs as well? When would those be set up, before or after the casinos were present? What about the older folks who do get hooked, spend their savings, and end up on welfare because of it? Can Maine's welfare system support that? What kind of gaming commissions would need to be started/brought into the state to ensure fair play in the casinos? Obviously, these kinds of things do create jobs, but they also require startup money - salaries need to be paid even if the casinos aren't raking in the money immediately. Can Maine afford that kind of loan in the current economy? I honestly don't know, it's just a thought...but it's not as simple as "this will create jobs". Gambling is a tricky thing and may even change the very image of Maine to the outside world if it's made available to tourists...gambling has a little raunchier of a stereotype than the current Maine tourism does - is that an image Maine is willing to adopt?

Jeremy Corbally-Hammond said...

These are all concerns that I share with you. If I could measure my vote in enthusiasm, it would be a fairly cautious Yes.

One thing that helped tipped the scales for me was hearing from the Police Chief in Bangor, where our first casino was built. He was skeptical about it at first, promoting the banning of it on the grounds that he felt it would lead to more crime and some of the other social issues you bring up.

It's been about 5-ish years and he recently stated he was wrong and that there were no substantial increases to crime related to the casino.

Michael said...

When LePage says he's pro business, it means he wants to intervene in the market to help specific businesses. It is not the same thing as pro-market, which is neutral to specific businesses.

Good job on calling him on this silliness.

Kat Rainville said...

That's really interesting and promising! I actually didn't know that Maine had any casinos at all, so it helps that they're not starting from scratch. Now I feel like a road trip is in order. :-P

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