By ALAN CHARTOCK
Sin is back in fashion.
In New York, marijuana is back on the table. In my town of Great Barrington, Massachusetts, you’d need a lot of Roundup to kill all of the weed that four or five stores will be selling. In New York, it’s just a matter of time before we’ll see the smoke rising over the city and state. That will come when the governor and the legislature stop feuding with one another and behaving like children. So many people are coming over the border to Great Barrington from New York that we will have to double the road paving budget. To paraphrase the Music Man, we’ve got trouble right here in Empireville.
Marijuana is just like everything else in that there are both good and bad sides. The good is that if it’s out in the open and we can regulate and tax it and make sure that what folks are smoking or ingesting is unadulterated. The tax revenue can and will be substantial as the good folks of Massachusetts are already learning. What’s more, the criminal justice issues around the current illegality of pot are substantial. We all know that people of color are grabbed into the system for doing what white folks get away with. As my boy Jonas always told me, “That ain’t right!”
On the other hand, you know the potential bad stuff: pretty much the same thing as alcohol including car crashes, underage use and all the rest. Apparently that fight is over except we REALLY don’t know the various agendas off the political players. We do know that the Dark Prince, Andrew Cuomo, is much better at the fake out game then his rivals in the Assembly and the Senate. He once said that he was against legalizing cannabis but the question remains, “Is he still in favor, despite his protestations?”
Then there is gambling. Of course people are going to bet on sports. Such wagering should be licensed and taxed. We all know that bookies are like bandits and lovers — they keep on making out. It’s going to be legal in New Jersey, the Soprano State and we are dumb not to do it here. On the other hand, there will be people getting sucked in who might not have gambled if it wasn’t legal and available. You pick ‘em and choose ‘em. Let me assure you, as the state needs more and more money to spend, the pressure will grow and the end is in sight. We will have sports gambling and just occasionally, we will have some games thrown by an enterprising athlete or two, or five. They’ll get caught and Pete Rose will be proud.
Then there is the idea of having gambling casinos in New York City. You would have to be without your senses not to know that this is coming. The whole idea in putting these monsters in upstate New York was to breathe life into the dying upstate economy. Guess what? It isn’t working. So reparations will be paid to the upstate joints and we’ll have some casinos in the Big Apple. Right? Then the fight will be over exactly where they should go. I know you’re thinking the recently rehabilitated 42nd Street. As the late Dean Martin once crooned, “Ain’t that a kick in the head?”
Do I have to get to ultimate sin, prostitution with women and men selling their bodies for cash? Hey, if presidents can purchase sex, why not anybody else? Again, same arguments. Legalize it. Tax it. Health inspect it. We all know that it’s going on. Right. The new name for prostitution is “sex work.” We know that it is just a matter of time before a Sex Commissioner is appointed to write the rules and regulations. Of course, the various religions may object but they have problems of their own.
I tell you, “Sin is in.”
Dr. Alan S. Chartock is president and CEO of WAMC, Northeast Public Radio, in Albany. You can reach Dr. Chartock at email@example.com.