Ok, there's two things I want to weigh in on right now, before they pass me by any farther.
First and foremost, the comments on this Iowa Ennui post have taken on a life of their own, but I'd like to encourage my fellow bloggers not to get too caught up in it. Odds are it's crap. Midwest Mesopotamia appears to have taken the time to research it and comes down with a similar prognosis.
Besides that, the whole thing just sounds like a wrestling storyline. Although....now that you mention it...
WWE's "Millenium Man:" CHRIS Jericho.
TNA's "Big Acquisition:" CHRIStian Cage.
If this "New Gub Candidate" turns out to be CHRIS from Midwest Mesopotamia, I'm playing the conspiracy card.
Now, on to a serious point. State 29 went off on Iowa State sanctioned gambling in bars, gas stations etc yesterday. And he's absolutely right. Midwest Mesopotamia hit the nail on the head with it today. Make no mistake, if you wanna piss your money away, I'm all for it. In a sanctioned, safe place. Gas stations and bars don't fit that model.
If a politican or candidate wanted to make hay right now, they'd hammer this issue.
Update: I wanted to hammer a little harder on why gambling all over the place is bad.
Flash back to May 25, 2004, which coincedentally was also my 21st birthday. In this case, however, it's notable because it was my only blog post during the disaster that was my week in Montana. Actually, that post is really depressing, so don't read it, I'll just give you the quote I want you to see:
If you live in Missoula and you don't have a gambling problem, welcome to the minority. There's a casino on every streetcorner here, and if you don't want to walk that far, there's one in the middle of every block too. It's goddamn scary. Chris Hale told me today that if you have a liquor license in Montana, you get a license to have a casino too.
As terrible as that was, what Iowa's doing could turn out worse. At least in Montana, where the gambling licenses come with liquor licenses, the state has attached two things it needs to heavily regulate: liquor and poor people who value gambling over food. But then you get interesting situations. I washed my clothes at a laundromat with a liquor license and slot machines.
Anyway, back to my point. In Montana, at least it was regulated somewhat. Here in Iowa, "slottery machines" have virtually no regulation at all. Certainly, a 40-year-old single mother of 3 kids who gambles away her paycheck and then has to beg for food is one problem. And that one happens a lot. Just as frequently, a husband will gamble away a paycheck, get angry, go home, face an argument, and become a domestic abuser. Those two problems can happen at any casino, though. Now, we've got a new one. A 13 year old can walk in, win $50 on a slottery machine, and become an addict for life, too.
I grew up in Wisconsin, where you have to be 21 to gamble, but lived half an hour away from the U.P. of Michigan, where you only have to be 18. So every time a friend turned 18, we took them up to Watersmeet, Michigan...yes, that Watersmeet, from the ESPN commercial. Go Nimrods.
My first trip to Watersmeet, I won about $5. At one point I was up $75, and slowly blew it. On the way out the door, a friend dropped his last dollar into a machine, saying it was "the last dollar he'd ever gamble."
He won $700.
He went back twice that week, and about that often for the rest of the summer. I haven't seen him since I left for college almost 5 years ago, but even counting that $700 win, he was down thousands of dollars (on an 18-year-old budget). I'd bet by now, on a college student's budget, he's down tens of thousands of dollars. One time, after losing his money particularly quickly, he was determined to make his money back, by drinking all the free soda he could handle. That night, we went to a pizza place and, being broke, he tried to get free food by betting the manager he could eat a large pizza by himself. Then, a few days later, he was back at the casino.
Most people can handle gambling. Some people enjoy it. But you can't deny the fact that sometimes it destroys lives. And while I'd never want to prevent people from pissing away their money how they see fit, I don't think the state should ever be sponsoring it.