History-making music group for UMM - morris mn

History-making music group for UMM - morris mn
The UMM men's chorus opened the Minnesota Day program at the 1962 Seattle World's Fair (Century 21 Exposition).

Monday, March 12, 2012

New Vikings stadium revives allure of gambling

Welcome to the future? Is such a structure inevitable?

I thought soap operas were fading away. Some of the well-remembered soap operas of my youth have gotten the ax. But we have a genuine soap opera in Minnesota now.
On and on the Vikings stadium issue drifts. On any given morning at McDonald's in Morris, I glance through the Star Tribune headlines - the house paper of course - and expect on any given day to find something on the topic.
Governor Mark Dayton has been dogged by this issue since taking office. He has been dogged the same way the "undead" character dogged the hero in the movie "An American Werewolf in London." Remember how that undead character was rotting, literally - skin peeling away? Oh but he wasn't scary. He'd keep saying "hello David" in a most appealing way.
As far as I'm concerned, the skin is peeling away on the Vikings stadium issue. It's starting to reek.
It's bad enough this issue hovers at the state capitol where the duties to the citizens are supposed to be more fundamental.
If politicians decide we need to take responsibility for a new stadium, so be it. If they do, they're reflecting the views of their constituents. But the way this issue is headed, we're not really taking responsibility for it. That's because we're sadly falling back on gambling.
Let's just keep going to the well with this vice, eh? It's like we're not really paying for something.
The Federal government just borrows or prints money, and we enact gambling. Isn't it all starting to seem like Sodom and Gomorrah?
I bash Republicans a lot but there are times when I see merit in their stance. Republicans have been the most reserved on the stadium. They seem to be more readily coming forward with principle. They'll say "our constituents just don't see a stadium as a high priority now."
They're stating the obvious.
The other side of the coin is the unspeakable fear we have about the Vikings leaving. We're more scared of this than an "undead" character stalking us.
I'm scared of the expansion of gambling. Governor Dayton is touting electronic bingo and pulltabs in Minnesota's bars and restaurants. He cited some astronomical sum such a system (taxing it, actually) would generate.
I don't doubt gambling rakes in tons of money. I can think of many other things it can be used for. I suppose electronic gambling is more efficient than other forms. It extracts money from people faster. Welcome to Pottersville.
Who steered us this way? Democrats need to look in the mirror. Just like Dayton seems clueless now, it was another Democrat, Rudy Perpich, who allowed the doors to swing wide open.
There was a time when gambling was taboo, a time when people were so cautious and prudent, they even avoided the stock market. People shook their heads about "risk investments." And gambling? It was immoral.
About as "edgy" as you could get would be to go to a church basement and play low-stakes bingo. I had Catholic friends as a kid who took me to that. When I later learned non-Catholics weren't allowed to take communion in a Catholic church, I asked about the discrepancy. Why could I play bingo? "We'll always take your money," was the joking response.
Governor Luther Youngdahl in 1947 drove out slot machines that had crept into the state, like at resorts. We patted ourselves on the back over that. I remember seeing a slot machine in a "back room" at the Elks Club in Fargo in the early 1970s. It looked to exotic to me.
I remember on one of my trips to Wisconsin in the 1980s, I stopped at a filling station just on the Wisconsin side of the border and thought it would be neat to buy "lottery tickets." Wow! These turned out to be just the plain scratch-off kind, not the kind where you might win a windfall. But I thought it was cool to buy "lottery tickets."
A lot of us thought it was cool when the drinking age was lowered.
We grow older and wiser about such things. A vice is a vice.
And now we're leaning on vices to pay for things that the state apparently sees as essential. All of this is hung out to dry in the daily Star Tribune headlines. It drones on like a soap opera. They say you can miss a week or two of a soap opera and it really doesn't matter. By the same token, you can refresh yourself pretty quickly on the stadium.
It's so irritating because we sense there is such an inexorable pull. There's a pull not only with the inevitability of the stadium itself, but with gambling expanding its specter in Minnesota ever so hideously. And we have a DFL governor putting his imprimatur on it. Is he being stalked by one of the "undead?"
Who says we need to be consumed by this issue? A headline springs up: "New stadium proposal comes forth." It's passive-voice. Who made the proposal and why does it immediately get traction? Who decides this?
The people I hang around with aren't waiting with baited breath to see if a new stadium gets approved. Us knaves look at the Metrodome and think it's quite acceptable - quite nice actually. It's clean, dependable and definitely has a "big league" feel about it, even without any real frills.
But what do we know? Apparently the Metrodome doesn't maximize the revenue that can be sucked out. We need to follow the lead of Jerry Jones in Dallas, we're told. The Jones facility is opulent to the extent one really can think of Sodom and Gomorrah.
Do we really want to put pro football on such a pedestal? Are we just one of those states played for suckers? Are we more scared of the "cold Omaha" label than we are of an undead guy?
Los Angeles CA of all places has been without the NFL for some time now. Is this really perceived as a grave deficiency there? No one wants the Vikings to leave Minnesota. But this desire can't be allowed to open the door for virtually any means of money extraction from our citizens.
Maybe history will judge the Jones stadium in Dallas as a step too far. Maybe history will judge Youngdahl as the wiser governor than Dayton.
There is an issue bubbling down underneath too. What if all these revelations about head injuries in football, and the physical punishment in general, cause a new generation of parents to steer their sons away from this sport? What if the boys themselves make this decision? What if they decide it's better to come home from school and go on social media (or digest knowledge) than to bash your head in trying to assert your masculinity in an anachronistic sport?
The girls are so much wiser, engaging in volleyball in the fall.
For the time being we're stuck in the established mindset of revering football, so we're under the gun about financing a new Vikings stadium.
This is what we elect our state lawmakers for? They're busy as bees this very week poring over the details. Why can't the Vikings and Gophers play in a nice shared facility? Are there no restrictions we can impose on sports?
It is true that the current proposed stadium package isn't a slam dunk. Maybe we can thank the Republicans for that. Republicans at least don't have the deer-in-the-headlights look on the subject, where the prospect of the Vikings leaving would equate to the end of the world, or maybe a bridge falling into a river.
So why is a Democratic governor so mesmerized by comparison? Democrats represent the working class (according to the rough theory) and maybe they feel pro football is sort of an opiate for such folks. Balderdash.
I want the Vikings to stay but I absolutely don't want the New Jersey real estate mogul and his minions to extort us. We don't want to pay a price of expanded gambling that steadily bleeds us, not only of our money - it's a regressive tax - but of our traditional spine about such things (as Governor Youngdahl asserted).
The Vikings can go to Los Angeles. Autumn will still be glorious in Minnesota.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

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