Want to help the economy? Support our youth

Investors and developers who desire to make a positive impact on
the economy in San Benito County need look no further than to
financially support the YMCA, not the proposed gaming casino.
Investors and developers who desire to make a positive impact on the economy in San Benito County need look no further than to financially support the YMCA, not the proposed gaming casino.

Money spent on social programs for youth, families and seniors improves the quality of life in our community and makes for a living legacy that promotes the health and welfare of society. When we invest in our youth, we are investing in the future of our economy and environment. Kids who grow up with an appreciation for their family and community remember where they came from and will want to give back to their community in the future.

I met with Lou Bettencourt, Executive Director of the San Benito County YMCA, recently. He told me that the YMCA partners with the City of Hollister, some schools and other nonprofit agencies and has become the largest provider of recreational and after-school programs in the county. The organization is also vigorously pursuing opportunities to acquire land and build a state-of-the-art YMCA facility complete with swimming pool and all the amenities that one might expect from a modern YMCA … except gaming tables.

I suppose if I were to explain the concept of building a casino to local youth, it might go something like this: “Okay, kids, gather round. I’m going to offer a demonstration on the impacts of building a gambling casino right here in San Benito County. First, I’m going to use this five horsepower shop vacuum and label it “The Casino.” Then I’m going to use this 33 gallon size plastic garbage can and label it “The Future”. Now kids, everything that goes into “The Future” is now or will be something you might want to earn. It could be money, property, education, integrity, honesty or even the bond of love between you and your family.”

“Alright then” I would say, “Let’s take some hard earned cash from each of you, cut it in two and throw it into The Future. Thanks kids. Now let’s take some family mortgages, put them through a shredder too. Good, now let’s take some college diplomas and cut those up and throw them in there. Next, we’ll take this red heart shaped valentine and rip it in two because there are a lot of hearts that are permanently broken due to gambling. Great, now we need some Boy Scout badges that represent all the good deeds that won’t get done due to gambling. And then we’ll need lots and lots more money to pay for social services and addiction counseling because gambling is as addictive as the worst drug you can think of. Finally, we’ll rip up these pages from the bible, the Koran and other scripture because when you’ve lost all your relationships and possessions to gambling, eventually you lose your soul too.”

“Now then, we are ready for the great experiment boys and girls. I’m going to turn on the five horse power vacuum cleaner. “Click.” Wow it sure is kind of loud. Now, I’m going to put this hose into “The Future.”

Something’s happening kids, can you tell? Yes, the vacuum is doing its job. It’s making all those positive relationships, dreams, education, money, property and good deeds disappear right before your eyes.” At that point, I would watch the kids’ faces turn from interest to despair as everything they ever wanted to work for and look forward to disappeared without a trace.

“Alright then kids, what did we learn today?” No response. “Well, that there are good ways and bad ways to invest in your future”. “Work hard, stay in school, get a good job that interests you, save your money, respect those that love you and get involved in the community. Be honest and aspire to achieve the American dream, home ownership.”

No response.

“Well then, I have one last question and it’s an easy one. This vacuum represents the proposed casino for San Benito County right? Can anyone tell me how a vacuum works?”

“IT SUCKS!!!” They’d yell in unison.

“Exactly!” I’d reply.

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