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Stop the presses! Sanity returns!

By TJ Ray

Sometimes in life people experience Huh? moments. Those are those rare times when the sudden good news is dashed instantly by the next announcement.

Think of a parent telling a teenager that he is getting a new cell phone and then is told he can only use it in the family den when a parent is present. Bummer!

Or you find an old stamp your great grandfather left, which the family has kept for decades. You take it to a philatelist who looks at it with a smile on his face — a smile that vanishes when he finds it in his catalog, listed with a value of two cents.

Last week a story in this paper announced that a group of legislators will study the idea of creating a state lottery.  No doubt those words excited a lot of folks who see the money that a lottery might generate as the only hope of ever funding public education to the level the law requires. Probably their elation evaporated with the next line: “but will not take a stand.” The subheading painted an even grimmer picture: “Group wants to be ‘objective,’ but no one at the meeting spoke in favor of Mississippi lottery.”

Apparently, a group of folks from the government plans to visit Louisiana and Arkansas (no doubt other states will be added to the list) to see how their systems work.  Not a bad plan, except the group already says it will not make a recommendation for or against a lottery before they even go.  One genius in the group said, “We want to be as objective, independent, as possible.”

Surely someone pointed out to this clown that a preordained conclusion obviates any idea of objectivity and independence.

As the elected gang in Jackson sink Mississippi further and further into financial woes, even the governor has announced that a lottery ought to be considered. If you give it all away with the left hand, you had better have something to replace it with the right hand.

But launching a lottery will require reasonable people doing the thinking.  The Speaker of the House, Philip Gunn, opposes a lottery on religious grounds, but turns around and creates this cabal to study lottery systems.

Add to the voices opposing a lottery that of the editor of the Mississippi Baptist Convention’s weekly newspaper. He noted that “it (a lottery) corrupts the soul.”  Lotteries could cause folks to gamble away their family needs, and that might lead to child abuse and divorce.”

One can only hope a fellow with that vision of the world writes weekly columns protesting the 28 casinos around the state.

One number that will not be publicized after this junket by Gunn and his gang is the cost of this travel by the group. And Heaven forbid that one of these puritans should go into a casino and place a bet.

TJ Ray is a retired professor of English at Ole Miss.