“We live in a world where capitalism rules and competition.”

“We live in a world where capitalism rules and competition.” So said West Warwick’s Timothy Williamson during yesterday’s House casino hearing. Of course, he was only talking about the small, local, mom-and-pop restaurants and entertainment establishments that would have to duke it out with a casino. Because, you see, Rep. Williamson’s love for the free-market and “competition” doesn’t extend to fielding competitive bids for a casino. Nope.
Instead, we should just take the unprecedented step of locking in one company (Harrah’s) by amending the state constitution such that they and only they can operate a casino in Rhode Island. Put another way, if passed, the amendment would make it unconstitutional for anyone else to operate a casino! Is that really what the constitution is for? Are we going to start writing special priveleges into the state constitution for mega-corporations?
North Kingstown Senator James Sheehan describes the utter folly of this course of action:

…this “Harrah’s Amendment” would violate centuries of constitutional principle by granting to a distinct class of people, and to a major corporation, an exclusive right above and beyond those enjoyed by average citizens. A constitution is intended to serve the best interest of all the people equally.
…the Harrah’s Amendment also would create a monopoly for Harrah’s on privately owned casinos. This means that the only license to own a private casino would automatically belong to Harrah’s rather than be subject to a competitive-bidding process that could net the state additional millions of dollars in revenues. And, once these terms are etched into the state constitution, and the world’s largest casino puts down roots in Rhode Island, it is doubtful that anyone, given Harrah’s resources and powerful lobbying ability, could alter this sweetheart deal.
Worse yet, if Harrah’s can run roughshod over our state constitution today, what will it do with this (arbitrary) power tomorrow? I submit that this is a recipe for corruption on a scale beyond that our small state has ever seen.
Article I, Section 2 of the Rhode Island Constitution states that “All free governments are instituted for the protection, safety, and happiness of the people. All laws, therefore, should be made for the good of the whole.”
Amending our state’s constitution to primarily benefit a private corporation is an affront to this high principle and hence the people of Rhode Island.

Hopefully enough voters realize this in November.

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