A Terrific Comedown

This morning’s Daily News brought a color casino advertising supplement: all the latest shiny places to have fun.  The charm of casino gambling, for those of us who can’t afford to lose $10,000 at a clip, escapes me.  I went to Las Vegas a few years ago with my wife, and was actually bored.  But if you enjoy it, go and have fun: it’s a free country.

I was idly turning the pages until I saw a picture of a vaguely industrial-looking casino building, framed by a vaguely industrial-looking steel arch.  It was the Sands Bethelehem, built on the site of the former Bethlehem Steel plant in northeastern Pennsylvania.

When I was a kid, I used to see construction sites in the city, many of them for skyscrapers, and many of them had signs that read, ‘Bethlehem Steel.’  I wasn’t quite sure about the connection between the steel in the buildings and Jesus’s birthplace, but it was clear that these were big buildings going up.

So it’s come to that: what was formerly a locus of productive activity has now become a facility for depleting thousands of people of their savings.  But the people keep showing up, eager to be depleted, and the community where the facility is located is happy to have it there, because it brings tax revenue.

Didn’t the United States used to be a nation that accomplished things?

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