I like polling. Unlike many, I think survey research is a necessary part of the political process that brings a public servant closer to constituents. I agree with the critics - there are times when an elected official must use their backbone and do what is right by going against the data. However, for the most part, if the questions are properly scripted to deliver unbiased results, a poll will normally deliver an accurate representative sample of what district voters think.
The other day I received a call from a pollster who asked if I would participate in a survey to help "New York State leaders" gather information on an "important issue." Intrigued by the vague request, I asked how long it would take. Ten minutes, the caller said, and I agreed to participate. Twenty-seven precious prime time cell phone minutes later, the survey was concluded and I was left furious with those ambiguous "New York State leaders."
I wasn't mad about the waste of cell phone plan minutes, battery power or my time. I was annoyed an unidentified group of state bureaucrats called me about another stupid idea of theirs, and they asked me multiple-choice questions about a complex issue in a way that could never really capture my beliefs.
The "New York State leaders" were calling to get my opinion on allowing casino gambling in the Empire State. Specifically, they wanted to know if I would support an amendment to the state constitution that would issue up to seven statewide licenses to companies to build casinos.
Every question I was asked was followed with: "Would this make you more or less likely to support the amendment?" Frustrated by the fact that each question was loaded with the premise that support for casino gambling was the same as support for the constitutional amendment, I was forced to always answer "less likely."
I wonder why is it so unfathomable for "New York State leaders" to believe something can exist without government regulation.
I am a strong supporter of casino gambling. I think people should govern their own behavior and not rely on the government to regulate morals. We are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights, including the right to live and choose freely. If someone wants to blow their paycheck at a casino on Friday after work, I don't think it is government's job to tell them not to. I think casinos provide a great economic benefit to an area and, if the free market can justify their existence, there should be as many as a local economy will support and benefit from. Building a casino provides hundreds of construction jobs, thousands of lasting jobs, and much needed municipal revenue.
It is pretty unfortunate that our leaders lack the backbone to support or oppose casino gambling. Instead, they are walking the line between both by saying "we allowed it, but limited it." That's demonstrative of the spineless leadership that has put the Empire State first place in the race to the economic bottom.
It is also unfortunate that when my representatives asked my opinion on the issue, I gave up 27 minutes of my time and never got it to them. Instead, my misunderstood thoughts will be carelessly grouped with thousands in an Excel spreadsheet that some twenty-something will zip over to another twenty-something a few days before New York State Legislators vote. And no one will ever know that I support casino gambling and oppose government strangulation.