I write this letter reluctantly, not because I have something else I’d rather be doing, but because I think the subject is none of my business ­— though, as a resident of the city of Gearhart, I am assured it is my business.

A Daily Astorian headline asks “Is gambling ‘good for Gearhart’?” (Feb. 8) in the matter of the owner of a soon-to-open brew pub being required to ask the city for permission to install four video lottery machines in his place of business, on his own property. The question cannot be answered, as no one is qualified to speak for “Gearhart,” much less to know what is “good” for it.

In the course of my life of 79 years, I doubt if many more than half the decisions I have made for myself have been “good” for me. Even less would be the probability that I can know what will be good for another person, and it is entirely out of the question that I can accurately guess what will be good for a town of about 1,000 residents and numerous visitors.

In a free enterprise economy, such as we have in this country, consumers “vote” with their dollars. If a business receives enough “votes,” it will thrive; if it does not, it will wither and die. There is no way to predict its future, because it is not known how future generations will care to spend their dollars. It is hubristic for any group of citizens, including a so-called Planning Commission, to decide now what will be good for my children or grandchildren, or any other future residents of Gearhart.

In the current matter of video lottery games, I am with Thomas Jefferson in principle — whether a man install four or 40 gambling machines, it “neither breaks my leg nor picks my pocket.”

Louis Sargent



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