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Commentary: Casinos A Construction Gold Mine02:44
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This commentary was written by Bill Frost, a carpenter based in Acton.

Bill Frost, outside WBUR's studios (WBUR File)
Bill Frost, outside WBUR's studios (WBUR File)

After another year of spotty employment and battling to pay my bills, I would wholeheartedly welcome the opportunity to build even a doghouse. And the idea of a long-term project, like a casino, would be El Dorado — a gold mine to me.

But it's also a business, let's not forget, and casino interests are certainly going to encourage people to gamble.

Me, I'm a carpenter, and if you invited me to your home to patch a leaking roof, I'd try to sell you a new one. If you went for it, I'd also suggest new gutters and down spouts. It's not up to me to decide if you can afford it. As the old song says, "A man should never gamble more than he can bear to lose." He should also not buy home improvements he can't pay for.

[sidebar title="An Opposing View:" width="300" align="right"] Commentary: Gambling's Troubling Reality [/sidebar]

Since 2008, this country has been stuck in an economic downturn, fueled partially by the fact that a great many people bought homes they couldn't afford. The bottom fell out of the housing market and the hardest hit have been construction workers, like me. And the irony here is that most of us in the trades were able to foot the bills back when we bought our homes.

Given steady employment we could afford them, even now. But the economy sputters along and tradesmen consider ourselves lucky if we can manage enough hours to keep our health plan current.

Once I'd hoped I'd have a few years between getting my three kids through college and my retirement, to service school loans and pay down my mortgage. Now I wonder if I've already retired but no one took the time to tell me. I'd hoped retirement would be a time when my wife and I could travel and visit family. Now I'm afraid it will be spent looking for a supermarket that will allow me to bag groceries without wearing a necktie.

So, if our lawmakers vote to expand gambling in this state, many of us will be able to retire in the fashion we envisioned: not by hitting big at the blackjack table, but by simply going to work, doing our jobs, and building our own futures.


- From The Archives:

Last year, when Massachusetts lawmakers battled over gaming legislation, Robin Rouse and Bill Frost composed commentaries for us. You can read Robin's 2010 entry here, and Bill's here.

This program aired on September 14, 2011.

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