Wednesday, May 05, 2010

COLUMN: Betting on turbines and casinos in Massachusetts

For those of you out in the rest of the country who may be wondering, there’s more to Massachusetts than just taxes and liberals. We also have clams. And lately, we have two controversies that have been dominating discussion here: the debate over whether to allow wind turbines and casinos, unfortunately not together.

I’d been waiting to weigh in on these subjects until I’d done the proper research, by which I mean, until I’d seen a headline about them on the front page of the Boston Herald. I’m still waiting, unless wind turbines or casinos happened to be the subject of the recent cover story entitled “Button-down Mayor Says ... Screwgle Google,” the latest proof that ink fumes have permeated the building.

As far as the turbines go, though, I can’t help but wonder why people hate them so much. I find them to be kind of soothing — it’s like looking at a giant pinwheel. A giant, monstrously expensive, bird-annihilating pinwheel.

Now, we all know that the late Sen. Ted Kennedy didn’t want them marring the view from his Hyannisport compound, but let’s face it: It’s not Ted Kennedy’s view, it’s the people’s view. This would explain why Scott Brown has mounted a wind turbine to the back of his pickup, right next to the Truck Nutz.

And personally, I’d love to look out on a series of wind turbines from my compound, because that would mean ... I’d have a compound. Right now all I see when I look out my window is the guy across the street looking back at me, and frankly, it’s starting to creep me out.

Now, some say the energy we get from these babies will actually be too costly to justify the expense of building them, so I’m hoping they figure that out before they start construction, even if that would violate the state’s massive infrastructure projects credo (“Build first, ask questions later”). Also, they should make sure they don’t hire the people who did the Big Dig, unless they want the turbines to take 16 years and then fall over.

But the one argument I’ve heard that actually makes some sense (no, not the part about the birds —they need to start looking up, for crying out loud) is the following: Members of the Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe have said the turbines would desecrate tribal burial sites. By which they presumably mean “potential sites for future Indian casinos,” whose swimming pools will be filled with re-animated corpses and Craig T. Nelson.

Which brings us to the casinos, which I’m still not sure how I feel about. On the one hand, they could prove disastrous for compulsive gamblers and their families. On the other hand, maybe Tom Jones would come! So I’m torn.

One thing I’m definitely in favor of, though, is the idea of warning labels on the slot machines. I pictured something informative but catchy, like: “NOTICE: For best results, place your life savings, your clothing and your portable oxygen tank into the slot below. An attendant will be along shortly to carry your wrinkled naked body back to the bus.”

So you can imagine my disappointment when I heard that the Massachusetts House of Representatives had rejected that particular amendment. Seems there was an issue with the proposal: According to the State House News Service, the warnings “would require the listing of so many odds that the sign would be up to three times larger than the machine itself.” Which means the warnings about the buffet would probably have to blanket the entire building like a giant field tarp.

Regardless, both casinos and wind turbines sound on paper like fine ideas; the first one will bring in tons of tax revenue, and the second will help the environment, not necessarily in that order. You might quibble over the details, but at the end of the day, what could possibly go wrong?

With the possible exception of Massachusetts taxpayers getting screwgled.

Peter Chianca is a managing editor for GateHouse Media New England. Portions of this column appeared previously on The Wicked Local Blog. Follow him on Twitter at

1 comment:

V. Poker said...

Online gambling and morality? If you do not have the money to gamble, then don’t! very insightful post. Live dealers is so cool! Makes you feel less cheated or somthing! I never knew they did this!