Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Follow the Wampum

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Many of us border on political battle fatigue, following the major failures of the Obama administration over unemployment and the economy, Obamacare, with millions losing their coverage, or the series of foreign policy blunders that put our embassies at risk, alienated our allies and rewarded our enemies. But, while major policy meltdowns surround us and command our attention, the fact that the Federal government, a behemoth, a gargantuan juggernaut that never sleeps, with thousands of equally bad decisions and policies implemented by countless agencies of the bureaucratic state, blundered blithely on with scarcely a ripple in the national consciousness. Could there be a more eloquent argument in favor of smaller government? Submitted for your consideration...

SACRAMENTO — Obama administration policies stimulating an expansion of tribal gambling have touched off new battles over proposed tribal casinos in California and elsewhere. Since President Barack Obama took office, the Department of the Interior has recognized dozens of new tribes and approved requests from a handful of others to acquire land that could house a casino, contingent on deals between the tribes and their home states.

The department rejected nearly all such applications under President George W. Bush.

While I have written before on the Balkanization of America by our current president ("Our Divisive President"), the creation of more tiny Indian "nations" inside our borders is a literal Balkanization.

In California, there are already over one hundred "federally recognized tribes". Sixty two of them own casinos. In theory, there is some history between the tribe and the land the reconstituted (or newly founded) tribes claim for their Indian casinos. (It's hard to figure how we ever conquered the Indian nations, since so many of them were prescient enough to locate their tribal lands next to where freeway off ramps would some day spring up!)

Of course, those less prescient tribes have had to apply for "off-reservation" casinos, aided and abetted (pun intended) by Vegas gambling interests.

Since Obama took office in 2009, just five federal applications for new land from tribes that did not have reservations have been accepted. But dozens of others are pending, and opponents of the deals fear many more may soon be approved.

Seven such requests from California tribes are now before federal officials, according to gambling critic Cheryl Schmit, director of Stand Up California, which monitors state gambling issues. An additional 78 tribes are seeking federal recognition, according to U.S. Census data.

Lawmakers have begun to question the historic ties the tribes have to the land where they want to build these casinos, and say major gambling operators from Las Vegas and elsewhere are funding the tribes' efforts to win federal approval in exchange for future management contracts.

I'm an egalitarian. I believe that all Americans of all classes, races and creeds should abide by the same set of laws. This extends from our ruling class, who seek to set themselves about the laws they place upon others, to those who call themselves sovereign nations within the US, who are, coincidentally, exempt from many of the same laws.

This nation has had a shameful past regarding the indigenous peoples of the country. Indian reservations have historically been places of poverty, squalor and despair. Both government provided education and medical care in these places have been seriously wanting. Before the implementation of Obamacare, I used to argue that until the federal government could demonstrate proficiency in the healthcare they already controlled, such as the VA and BIA, they could hardly be trusted to take over health care in the entire country.

But the sins of past treatment of indigenous peoples cannot be absolved by showers of legalized gambling profits. As a boy, I was taught that 'the land' was essential to the Native American's religion and spirituality. Now that the land is mainly used to foster gambling dens, it appears that this administration is currently aiding and abetting the loss of their soul.

Original art by John Cox. More at John Cox Art
Cross posted at LCR, Political Clown Parade

1 comment:

  1. We would have few problems if the laws in existence were followed. The hazards of a republic I guess.


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