Tags: Atlantic City

Atlantic City Casino Closings Mirror America's Decline

Thursday, 04 September 2014 11:25 AM Current | Bio | Archive

A Chinese proverb says, “If you must play, decide upon three things at the start:
the rules of the game, the stakes, and the quitting time.”

Since China took a chapter from America’s playbook on achieving success, it’s too bad we didn’t reciprocate by heeding those prophetic words from the Orient. If we had, China wouldn’t be a growing economic tiger and we wouldn’t be on the fast track to becoming a paper tiger.

Yet too many refuse to acknowledge that the United States has been in a dangerous financial decline for decades, fueled by the self-interest of both political Parties, and a public unwilling to demand accountability and a change in direction. In believing the rules don’t apply to us, we continue raising the stakes in a game we cannot win, naïvely thinking that we’re too big to fail — or fall — and that protests, righteous indignation and more money will solve everything.

It is always easier to comprehend large issues on a local level.

The recent spate of casino bankruptcies and closings in Atlantic City, and the reasons for their shutdowns, provide a microcosm of America’s problems. It’s a sure bet that, if America doesn’t turn things around soon, it’s bluff will be called and it will fold its hand, just as is happening in Atlantic City. Consider:
  •  Former glory. the recent closing of the Atlantic Club Casino, along with the anticipated closings of the Showboat, Trump Plaza, and the new, $2.4 billion Revel would leave Atlantic City with just eight casinos, a whopping 33 percent decline since January. How could this happen?
Atlantic City was once a jet-set destination, the A List place to see and be seen by the world’s rich and famous. That was then.

For decades, a huge percentage of residents live in extreme poverty, with an educational system so bad that, even when the casinos were in full swing and had ample job opportunities, the city’s unemployment rate was double the national average.

Without education, there is no hope, so crime and vices skyrocket, which we have seen not just in Atlantic City, but nationwide, as America’s inadequate — yet lavishly funded —  public schools continue to fail our children. Despite all the promises that the city would be reinvigorated after building the casinos, Atlantic City continues to deteriorate — as patrons rarely leave the casinos for fear of crime.

Many think America’s glory days are behind her.

Jobs continue to be lost overseas, educational achievement levels are dropping, and the middle class is shrinking while an unsustainable entitlement class is growing. Despite promises of a better tomorrow, things are going the wrong way.
  • Resting on its laurels. America is still unquestionably the world’s most powerful nation (for now) but it has gotten complacent, refusing to see who is breathing down its neck. The competition gains while the U.S. remains stagnant, and each week brings more news of the dollar’s decline as countries move to other currencies and park their investments elsewhere.
Since the printing of imaginary money continues and the trillion-dollar unfunded pension liability issue isn’t being addressed, it doesn’t take a genius to see that our house of cards strategy will, at some point, collapse.

Atlantic City, located within driving distance of over 100,000,000 people, also rested on its laurels, having the casino industry all to itself. Until it didn’t. By then it was too late. In its complacency, it never strove to better itself, a blindness leaving it impotent to compete when neighboring states allowed casinos.

And of course there is Las Vegas — a desert, without the allure of an ocean — whose leaders made that town not just a gambling mecca, but a family destination, remarkable since the vast majority of visitors must fly there. That type of foresight is sorely lacking in America.
  • Denial. If America continues to spend uncontrollably, without reforming entitlements and rebuilding its moribund manufacturing base, there will be unprecedented pain. And no amount of protests, lobbying or complaining will change that.
In Atlantic City, casino employees and unions members continue to protest the closings, playing the blame game and hammering owners, despite the mammoth losses being incurred, with one union official even labeling the closing of one casino a “criminal act.”

Denial rules the day. If there’s no money, there’s no money. What part of that can people not comprehend?

Is there a solution? For Atlantic City, probably not.

It would take a generation to turn that city around, yet there is not an iota of will to do so.

So the implosion will continue.

Luck always runs out, so if America is to avoid Atlantic City's fate, it needs to stop gambling with its future. Otherwise, it’ll be left holding a Dead Man’s Hand.

Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, Freindly Fire Zone Media. Read more reports from Chris Freind — Click Here Now.


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Luck always runs out, so if America is to avoid Atlantic City's fate, it needs to stop gambling with its future.
Atlantic City
Thursday, 04 September 2014 11:25 AM
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