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Commentary: The Promise Of Jobs Makes Gambling A Worthy Bet01:39
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Bill Frost (Andrew Phelps/WBUR)
Bill Frost (Andrew Phelps/WBUR)

This commentary was written by Bill Frost, a carpenter based in Acton.


It's often said that if you only have a hammer, all of your problems look a lot like nails. You just want to bang away at them.

Well, I have a hammer, a Skil saw, and a screw gun, and I can tell you that in a stagnant economy, it's not what you have, it's what you don't have. Not having a job is the real problem. The last time I've seen a stretch of unemployment like this, Gerry Ford was president. And anybody who has swung a hammer knows that when the economy finally picks up, we're the last to go back to work.

So, people in the building trades — such as myself — support bringing casinos and slots to Massachusetts because of the construction and services jobs the plan would create. Those of us on the fringes of the economy desperately need the work.

I've been a carpenter for 35 years. It's all I know how to do.

(Andrew Phelps/WBUR)
(Andrew Phelps/WBUR)

Four years ago, my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. I figured I could make her recovery my first priority because I had steady work and an excellent health insurance plan through the Carpenters Union. At that time, I didn't have to worry about where my next paycheck was coming from or how to afford health insurance payments.

My wife is now two-years cancer-free, and, as I said, my biggest problem now is the job that isn't there.

But somewhere in the state, an unemployed carpenter's wife is in the shower. She is noticing for the first time a spot that doesn't feel quite right. A laid-off pipe fitter is learning that his child has a disease that he can't even pronounce. And, while these people need medical treatment and support, their caregivers first need jobs.

Opponents of the plan to expand gambling in Massachusetts say it would lead to a rise in foreclosure rates. In my world, it would lead to a decline. Opponents speak of the despair of compulsive gamblers. I can't believe that a gambler's despair could be any more real than the anguish I feel as one of the many of the long-term underemployed residents of this state.

It all comes down to where you're looking at it from. And from my perspective I believe we would gain far more than we would lose if casinos and slots came to Massachusetts.


Opposing Commentary: Gambling Legislation Hits Too Close To Home

This program aired on April 16, 2010.

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