As a Arizonian I have heard ’bout them about Arizona’s 5 Cs but I often have trouble remembering what they are. Now I have to add another one to remember. According to most recent economic statistics… “Arizona’s 5 Cs: Casinos now the 6th ‘C’ industry.”
The fact that casino investments continue to be seen by many as a good thing underlies the flawed thinking and mis-prioritization of values and goals that has led to a crisis in the modern nation-state.
The East Valley Tribune reports that the “Five C’s” that traditionally made the bulk of Arizona’s economy – copper, climate, cattle, cotton, citrus should make room for a fifth – Casinos.
Revenue from Arizona’s 22 casinos far surpassed cattle, cotton and citrus in the most recent figures available for each. Casinos took in nearly $1.7 billion during fiscal 2011, which ended June 30, according to the Arizona Department of Gaming’s annual report.
By comparison, cattle industry receipts totaled $637 million in 2010 and another $650 million from dairy products. Cotton receipts bounced back from a poor 2009, but the crop’s $206 million take was just a fraction of casino wins. And although Arizona’s biggest citrus crop, lemons, accounted for nearly 10 percent of U.S. production, it produced just $34 million in receipts.
Bad Karma for Natives & Whites Alike?
The money is not in producing real things – things we need to live and live prosperously – its in producing “casino wins.” Native Americans in a bid to cash out on their special “first nation peoples” legal status are providing fuel to enable the proliferation of the gambling industry in America. The fuel is in the form of the simple fact that many tribes own properties that place them in important strategic locations that are key growth areas for the gambling industry such as Phoenix. Most states still prohibit gambling casinos but through a federal loophole can be allowed on Native American Reservations. Yet the idea, intent and values of the gambling industry contrary to the values and wisdom native peoples of their cultures.
Some are concerned that this action by many Native tribes constitutes not only a sell-out on their values and integrity, but that such a decision is actually representing the actual spiritual death of many of these people’s traditions and cultures.
Financial Problems Revolve around a Question of Values
The rise of gambling as a legitimate economic sector in contemporary society, underlies deeper problems with value creation and consumer spending in the American economy. Some people (usually on the Right) are enamored with facts showing the wastefulness of government. Yet a considerably smaller degree of social commentary is expressed about the total impact of questionable consumer behaviors such as tobacco consumption, over-eating and other addictive behaviors such as gambling.
The hijacking of the national political-economic discourse is a complex affair that at its roots has less to do with traditional or conventional notions of ideology than it does about the power addictions of the 1% of the richest and most powerful people in humanity. By pretending to support traditional conservative thinking and causes the 1% has successfully manipulated the political discourse and re-framed it away from the discussion about the roots of complex social problems and towards superficial, obsessive compulsive thinking that enables the stifling of personal growth and intellectual development among the general public. Getting to the roots of America’s financial crisis means that we have to go deeper than the financial mis-appropriation of funds on the part of Wall Street and Washington Elites, its a cultural, moral and spiritual bankruptcy whose responsibility is shared among all income groups
The Real Problem: Mis-Appropriation of Wealth
Military or government spending and a loss of public faith and trust in government as a result of corruption and bad decisions made by political officials and leaders is no doubt a problem but its not the core of what is driving this nation in the wrong direction. There is a crisis in the age of affluence, whereby money is mis-allocated towards activities that do not create wealth creation effects at all levels of humanity.
To say we are driven by values implies that we are thinking about things that revolve around something deeper than our own financial enrichment. Its a vision of America leading a globalization process, whereby people are empowered to solve problems and improve their lives using state of the art “smart technologies” that increase productivity and quality of life but without adverse ecological and social impacts on surrounding systems.
To understand the problem is to see that a downward spiral or trend will continue within humanity as long as global investments grow in guns, drugs, gambling, the military industrial complex, unhealthy food production, and a health care sector that perpetuates sickness. In these areas, the US is providing the wrong kind of leadership and has actually moved the world away from real and serious sustainable models of human development.
Gambling and Suburbia
What’s wrong with the picture this picture? Gambling culture is based on deeply rooted addictive behaviors combining the worst of them into a system of self-destructive and unsustainable thinking and living. At the worst end of this we see it in the glamorization and worship of money and icons of materialistic culture. So the problem is not just about how it synergizes with other aspects of sprawl culture to facilitate increased levels of hyper-consumption, but that it also leads to cultural corruption, whereby people are encouraged to elevate money and material things over more sacred and intrinsic values in life.
What about the aesthetics of gambling culture? Just like the people in that picture above, its superficial allure is only mesmerizing to certain types of people. The glitzy gambling lights and signage combine with a building architecture and interior design aesthetic that is as inauthentic as the intentions of the people getting rich from convincing people that there is something worthwhile in gambling and spending a lot of their hard earned money at casinos.
With the exception of City Center in Las Vegas and maybe the Bellagio, what’s produced is of no real cultural or aesthetic value. Indeed the 6th C of Arizona’s economy in particular seems often wrapped in big boxes much like the ones you would find housing a Best Buy or a Home Depot. Except that instead of finding hardware of computers inside there’s isles of slots and gambling game tables.
Another key point is to see the relationship between the corrupting influences of gambling and suburban living. While many who gamble do come from urban areas, its credible to consider that suburban living creates a certain soulless feeling that leads to the proliferation of addictive behaviors and lifestyles that the rapid growth sectors of today’s economy (such as guns, unhealthy foods, porn and gambling) feed on.
The Bottom Line
The healing that human beings crave will not come from an economy that is based on the exploitation of human weakness through divide and conquer mentalities/industries such as gambling.