New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is sure a funny guy. He’s so concerned with the health of the citizenry that, on the heels of campaigns targeting sugary drinks and smoking, he wants to cut back on the availability of alcoholic beverages at local stores. Yet, at the same time, he wants people to gamble more!
Last month the Mayor indicated his support for Governor Andrew Cuomo’s proposal to bring a casino to Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens.
Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, never to be outdone in enthusiasm for large, ill-thought-out projects, has lately suggested Coney Island as yet another new gambling mecca.
So…gambling? Totally cool. But drinking? Not so much. Specifically, a Health Department Request for Proposal includes the goal of “reducing alcohol retail outlet (e.g. bar, corner store) density.”
This push-me-pull-you vice squad thinking smacks of drunk and disorderly logic. If the goal is to improve health, shouldn’t the nannies-in-charge support that goal across the board? In what universe does it make sense to frown on alcohol consumption but encourage casino gambling? Both lead to addiction for some users. Both cost indulgers money better spent on other things.
Each is a well-weathered figure in the pantheon of old-time vices. And, to turn things around, both raise money for the government through taxes. There’s no angle from which this makes sense.