PM Christie’s Rush on to Legalize the Numbers Business
What is the RUSH? Will haste make for more wasted lives?
Prime Minister Christie is moving with uncharacteristic speed to push through a referendum followed by legislation to legalize the numbers business. The Free National Movement believes this is the wrong thing to do. We agree with others in the religious and civic communities that he needs to slow down and be a lot more thoughtful and deliberate.
The most recent community leader to echo this sentiment is Rev. Dr; Myles Munroe who has highlighted points that others have raised: the process is being rushed; there has been insufficient time for contemplation; it is unfair to ask people to make such a big decision with “very little information”; there is no reported (local) research on the impact gambling has had in Bahamian communities or on the likely long-term impact if the web-shop and similar gambling are legalized. These are all legitimate points that remand careful consideration.
The Prime Minister needs to slow down. There needs to be an opportunity for the Bahamian people to understand and appreciate all of the issues. If the government truly has no “horse in the race”, then certainly there is no logical need to rush.
With back to school only just behind us, the Christmas holiday on the horizon and the repairs and replacements needed because of the devastation of ”Sandy”, it would be ill advised to ask people who may be at their most vulnerable to seriously consider any decision on gambling at this time.
It is obvious that a thorough and extensive report is needed as to the economic, psychological, cultural and moral impact that this activity has on our country today and potentially the future.
During its tour of Family Island communities impacted by Hurricane Sandy, the FNM was once again reminded of another storm that has been striking Family Island communities for several years; that of the proliferation of gambling houses.
In point of fact, community leaders have expressed alarm. Gambling has become so pervasive and socially damaging that these leaders report that more and more residents seem to lose the passion for work, in favour of staking theirs and their families’ futures on “winning big” in the gambling houses. The impact has been very real and very damaging to the social fabric in Family island communities.
This pattern has become so pervasive that one school principal advised the FNM that primary school children spend significant amounts of their time plotting out which numbers to buy and how to win. The principal describes the impact on young people as an epidemic.
It is imperative that a responsible government take the time to determine the extent to which these anecdotal stories are localized to only one or a few communities or whether this decay is the reality across the entire Bahamas.
Cart before the horse
The growing number of concerns from responsible leaders of the civic and religious communities and average Bahamians again raise the question of whether the Prime Minister’s approach is backwards. It seems clearer than ever, that the right approach is for the government to exhaustively study this matter then, following widespread consultation with all stakeholders, bring and act to parliament accompanied by the proposed referendum question or questions. The legislative and consultation process will afford everyone an opportunity to study the reports of the Prime Minister’s so-called experts…before a decision is made. No other approach seems fair or reasonable…or responsible for that matter.
The cost to provide financial aid to communities hit hard by Hurricane Sandy should also cause the government to eliminate the financial costs of a rushed and ill-conceived referendum.
November 1, 2012