Gambling in Bethlehem
Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where the big issues are too big to tackle. We prefer to seine for smelt!
Speaking of smelt, today's topic is the historic Bethlehem Steel plant in ... emm ... where the hell is that thing located? Somewhere in Pennsylvania, I think.
Yesterday's Philadelphia Daily News ran a full-page story about how the Sands Casino is building a big-ass gambling emporium cheek-to-jowl with the historic (and shuttered) Bethlehem Steel plant. Sands is encouraging nonprofits to donate money in order to make the steel plant a tourist attraction.
"Okay, kids. Mommy's going to play blackjack nonstop for the next 24 hours. So let's go visit that great big place over there, where generations of hard-working, unionized AMERICANS made the steel that created World War II's battleships and the sturdy Golden Gate Bridge! That steel mill is a monument to America's industrial era, a testiment to American hard work, innovation, and ingenuity ...
"No, sorry, they're not still making steel there. Our steel comes from China now. Over in China they don't have to pay a living wage and take care of their workers if the workers get old or sick. But hey. Let's hear it for free enterprise!
"So you think it would be boring to tour a quiet, empty steel mill? Well, darlings, Mommy just loves to play blackjack, and there's nothing else to do here while she pisses the mortgage payment away under dim lights with all the free booze she can swill.
"And that nice elderly gentleman who's bringing her the martinis didn't have a job for years until the great visionaries at Sands came along and decided to open a casino here. So it's a win-win-win situation! Except for Mommy, of course, but she does love to play blackjack."
We at "The Gods Are Bored" watch in dismay as casinos rise up at the edge of Gettysburg Battlefield and in the shadow of the Bethlehem Steel Mill. We find it ironic that the two growth industries in this country right now are prisons and casinos. Both are touted as good for the economy.
If you can figure that one out, I'll buy you a crab cake.
And where does the high and mighty Christian Right stand on casinos? Damn if I know. I've never heard a single pastor or group denounce them, except the old liberal minister from my bygone days who rather tepidly said from the pulpit that gambling runs counter to the Methodist Rule Book or some such waste of paper.
We at "The Gods Are Bored" offer no opinion on gambling. It is a self-destructive vice, but hey. It's your life. Go play blackjack. See if we care.
However, the prospect of having gambling dens shoved up against the ashes of proud moments in American history makes us want to heave our turkey casserole.
At least Sands won't have trouble naming their new casino. They can call it Bethlehem Steal.
THE MERLIN OF BERKELEY SPRINGS