Show me the morals!
February 23 2001 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

Show me the morals! | Friday, Feb. 23, 2001

Friday, Feb. 23, 2001

Show me the morals!

By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor Governor Mike Easley is following through on a campaign promise to push for a state-run lottery in North Carolina. In his first State of the State address on Feb. 19, Easley announced two new education initiatives for young children and said a lottery was the way to pay for them. Easley knows he is up against a group of lawmakers who are not inclined to support state-sponsored gambling, so he challenged them to find a better way.

"You can't just say 'I'm against a lottery for education,'" Easley said. "You have to finish the sentence, tell me what you're for, because next year, 100,000 5-year-olds will show up at the schoolhouse door, and they deserve more than an overcrowded classroom with an underpaid and overworked teacher."

Easley pulled a line from the movie Jerry MaGuire - which deals with the life of a greedy sports agent - and added, "Show me the money!"

I want Gov. Easley to show me the morals. I'm all for improving education, and our family happens to include one of those 5-year-olds who will be showing up at the schoolhouse door next year, but I cannot endorse the idea of financing his education through state-sponsored gambling.

I don't care if every other border state has a lottery. If it's wrong, it's wrong - and gambling is wrong.

A state lottery promises much and delivers little, with the only sure winners being the outside gambling operators who run the show.

Gambling exploits the gullibility of people who think their chances of winning are actually good.

Gambling preys on the poor, promising the false hope of quick wealth in return for investing grocery money they don't have to spare.

Gambling undermines the basic moral value of working for a living, of earning honest gain for honest labor.

Gambling encourages the value of selfish greed, for even potential winners must know that any winnings will come at the expense of others' loss.

Show me one good thing about that.

Show me the morals.

The governor asked for someone to show him the money. If more money is needed for education, two solutions come to mind: raise taxes or shift budgetary priorities. The governor knows that selling a tax increase could be harder than selling the lottery, and robbing Peter to pay Paul won't be popular with those who have vested interests in other budget categories.

I am reminded of a lesson I learned as a boy. I noticed that some churches raised a substantial amount of their budgets through bingo games, turkey shoots and frequent raffles. When I asked why we didn't do that at our church, I was told that we believed God's people should support God's work voluntarily through their tithes and offerings. The wisdom of that message has stuck with me, and I believe it is applicable here.

If North Carolina's people believe more education funding is needed, then we should dig into our pockets and pay for it straight up rather than relying on questionable means. I am not excited about increasing taxes, but I'd rather fund a fair tax increase to support our children than sell their moral birthright for a mess of ill-gotten pottage.

The governor appealed to the Golden Rule as a reason for improving our education system. A state lottery promises gold, but breaks the rule.

There's something to be said for a moral education.

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2/23/2001 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments
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