October 15, 2012

There’s been a considerable amount of liberal/Democratic ink used in recent days concerning billionaires whining about the Obama administration and what could happen to this country if he were to be reelected. Jack Welch, former GE CEO claimed that the unemployment numbers were “cooked”, Donald Trump predicts the downfall of American capitalism, Steve Wynn of Las Vegas is worried about creeping socialism and the Koch Brothers of Texas are so anti-Obama that their heads nearly explode at the mention of his name.

So why are these super-rich guys so upset with Obama and predicting dark days ahead if he gets four more years. It couldn’t be because corporate earnings and profits are down – they’re in large part on an upward path. It couldn’t be because the stock market has tanked – it has regained much if not all of its pre-meltdown position. It couldn’t be because the housing market it in the doldrums – most signs point to a real uptick in housing. And it couldn’t be because we are in a recession or a near recession – no economist worth his/her salt is talking about a recession, only a steady but slow recovery.

So why all the whining? Well you probably guessed it already. These guys, these billionaires are worried that Obama and the Democrats will make them pay millions more in taxes. It’s all about them and their wealth, not about fairness, not about attacking the debt, not about the fact they made a tax windfall the last ten years. No, its about paying up and losing what will likely be a miniscule portion of their billions.

Someone ought to tell these guys that there is no whining in politics.  There is reasoned arguments,  policy studies, independent analysis, not conspiracy theories, bogus socialism claims, and predictions about the end of America. Anyone who reads what these guys are saying can quickly see what their game is. It’s not about the fiscal health of the country, its about protecting their wallets. So much for the common good.

In St. Mark’s gospel yesterday, Jesus talked to the rich man and asked him to give away his wealth to the poor and join him. Then Jesus said that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of an needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. If Jesus was right, these billionaires may have a lot to answer for down the line.


June 6, 2012

I hosted a group of students from the University of Macau in China last week and to my surprise learned a lot about casinos. You see Macau is now the Las Vegas of the Asia, in fact since 2007 the casinos of Macau have surpassed the Vegas Strip in terms of gambling revenue. Macau, which was a dingy little Portuguese backwater possession, became part of China in 1999 and started to pull out all the stops to build a gambling mecca.

In order to become Las Vegas East, Macau began to attract US gaming moguls such as Steve Wynn and our own Dorcester billionaire Sheldon Adelson. Today, Macau has a string of US destination casinos such as The Sands, MGM Grand, Wynn Macau and Adelson’s $ 1 billion, 3,000 room Venetian.

What’s interesting about the transformation of Macau into a gambling center is that Wynn lost out in Foxborough and Adelson decided to pass on bidding for one of the three casinos that may be built in Massachusetts. Both of these guys likely have had it with Massachusetts and its citizens who want to preserve their quaint New England towns and live by the creed of Not In My Back Yard ( NIMBY). For Wynn and Adelson their creed is summed up by the following question – Why waste gambling energy in unfriendly Massachusetts when there are fortunes to be made in Macau?

When I posed the question about gambling in Macau the students were giddy with praise for the casinos; these gargantuan structures have put their tiny city state on the map and brought jobs and huge buckets of revenue to the government. Although they did not want to get into questioning the wisdom of our citizen-based NIMBY attitudes toward casinos, the students look perplexed when I explained that the good people of the Commonwealth want no part of destination hotels, slot machines and poker dens; they would rather complain about revenue shortfalls, unemployment and acres upon acres of unused property.

There is no doubt that state sanctioned casino gambling in Massachusetts has hit a huge bump in the road as citizens who support the idea in theory reject the idea when it comes to their backyard. Yes, casinos and destination hotels willeventually come to the state, but they have already lost their luster and their promise. It is certain that Massachusetts will never become Macau.