What shouldn’t make us so proud is the reality of the rest of the story: Welcome to Alabama, home of the 15 percent illiteracy rate, 16 percent poverty rate, 11 percent unemployment rate, number 35 out of 50 in per pupil spending and number 45 out of 50 states in the nation for high school graduates. That’s the bad news that barely gets a whimper.
Although the latter dictates the future of this state, what do lawmakers, the governor and the attorney general spend their time on these days? If you answered bingo, that would be a winner.
The governor is sending out his minions to close down bingo establishments. The attorney general is holding dueling press conferences with the governor over how the state should or shouldn’t crack down on bingo, and the Legislature is grappling over legislation to allow electronic bingo and tax it.
Meanwhile, everyday people are making everyday decisions that affect their lives and the lives of their families.
The decisions they make don’t involve a game of chance. It is their reality.
Do they choose medicine or food? Do they choose to send their child to school or let him join the ranks of dropouts in the state? Do they keep looking for a job when they can’t even read the application? Or do they just sit idly by while their lawmakers concentrate on bingo instead of what really ails this state.
It’s an election year, and the political pandering is at its highest point. We see gubernatorial ads with a gun slung over a shoulder to garner votes. We see a governor relentless in his quest to shut down bingo parlors. And we hear far too much spin on gambling, casinos, crime and a tax on the poor.
Concentrate on what will move this state and its people forward. That is what Alabamians want from their leaders. They need jobs. They need more of an investment in education. And they need health care they can afford.
Bingo doesn’t even come close to making that priority list.