- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
At the risk of alienating any who read this, I am an attorney. I read the letters to the editor in the Maryland Independent. Sometimes I agree, sometimes I don't.
But I write now because someone said in a letter that “you can't legislate morality.” In my lifetime, people said that when they talked about civil rights, busing and, now, about gambling. The fact is that we do not have a law in this country that isn’t in line with the morality of the majority.
We think that people shouldn’t kill other citizens, that people shouldn’t be defrauded of their life savings, that the government should pay for building roads where people live or work and that we should try to get people to harm their own health by regulating the milk we drink.
Every criminal or civil law we have is based on our view of morality.
When a minority, or just one person, gets a law passed for their benefit, it gets struck down because enough people basically thought it was immoral. The Constitution was the Founding Fathers’ idea of morality. Morality is the ultimate arbiter of right and wrong, fair and unfair.
Now, the citizens of Maryland are going to decide if we want table game gambling in Maryland. As a moral issue, I am opposed to it. It is a regressive tax, taking proportionately more from poorer people than from rich people.
Most of the money will go to gambling owners who live out of state. The money used to support our schools will not increase; rather, what will happen is that the money coming from gambling will be spent on schools, or not, but the money spent on schools won’t change. The additional income will just be spent on something else.
Maybe that itself is a good outcome, but the citizens ought to be deciding how much we want to spend on schools versus roads versus police versus parks versus what you want. Because where the money comes from is a moral decision but the more important decision is what we do with it. And that too is a moral decision.
It will be legislated. We shouldn’t try to escape our responsibility by saying something is a moral decision, so we can’t actually affect it. Bad things happen because good people allow it.
Bill Wetmore, Waldorf