J. Pepper Bryars, who grew up in Mobile and lives in Huntsville, is a conservative columnist for AL.com. Contact him at www.jpepperbryars.com.
We often hear that the rich should be made to pay their “fair share,” but the top 20% of earners are already paying about 84% of our nation’s income taxes.
Some say that’s a reasonable apportionment from each according to their ability, but here’s a modest proposal for consideration: maybe it’s time for the poor to actually start paying their fair share in taxes.
Outrageous? No more than feeding our unwanted children to the rich. But still, how can we tax the poor without seeming like a monstrous mix of Ebenezer Scrooge and Montgomery Burns?
Our lawmakers in Alabama have finally found the secret answer: a lottery.
You may be skeptical that a lottery could deliver additional revenue on the backs of the poor, but other states have experimented with them for decades and have thoroughly perfected the trick.
Duke University found that the poorest third of households buy more than half of all lottery tickets, and a University of Buffalo survey showed that the lowest fifth on the socioeconomic scale had the “highest rate of lottery gambling (61%).”
Studies in Texas, Connecticut, South Carolina, and Minnesota also show that those with below-average incomes purchase a majority of scratch-off tickets. That’s partly because, as the Duke study found, poorer neighborhoods are saturated with get-rich-quick lottery advertisements for games with tempting names like “Win for Life, ” “Golden Ticket,” and “Holiday Cash.”
We get to hook their children, too. A Yale University study revealed that “receipts of scratch-off lottery tickets as gifts during childhood … was associated with risky/problematic gambling.” Teach them when they’re young, as the saying goes.
We never have to worry about the lottery being repealed, either. The poor don’t hire lobbyists to help avoid taxes, and when they vote it’s often for self-serving or incompetent politicians. For instance, those shouting the loudest for a lottery actually represent the poorest parts of Alabama.
If those reams of scientific studies aren’t convincing, take my personal word for it – the poor will pay.
I grew up poor, and not just relatively speaking. We fell below the federal poverty line for a family our size many times over the years, and I can recall how my father once blew the lion’s share of his paycheck gambling at the dog track in Mobile. It hurt. We weren’t the kind of family who could absorb a lost paycheck. Bills simply went unpaid … and our family simply went without.
Later on, a close family member’s husband blew three paychecks in a row at the casinos over in Mississippi. They were poor, too, and were eventually evicted from their rental house. Their family never recovered, and it eventually fell apart.
But who cares, right? Gambling is a victimless and voluntary vice, and we have no right to stop a grown man from wagering his family’s income on a chance to “Win for Life” or to get some “Holiday Cash.” Besides, it’s not our fault if children are caught up in the scheme, even if it’s sanctioned by the people and managed by the state.
Still, I remain worried that Alabamians won’t approve the lottery.
Think about it. If the poor knew that lotteries were actually wealth redistribution in reverse or that their children would likely grow up addicted to gambling, they wouldn’t vote for it … right?
If their elected representatives knew that a lottery would raise the taxes of their poorest constituents, they wouldn’t vote for it … right?
If the Democrats, who style themselves as defenders of the poor, learned that a lottery takes advantage of the most vulnerable among us, they wouldn’t vote for it … right?
And if the Republicans, who style themselves as the keepers of our Judeo-Christian values, knew that a lottery’s get-rich-quick advertising campaigns “exploit the poor because they are poor (Proverbs, 22:22),” they wouldn’t vote for it … right?
I’m not sure. All of this experience and evidence presents an overwhelming and convincing case that a lottery is a hidden tax on the poor.
Thankfully, nobody seems to know these things.
Nobody, that is, but you.
Legal experts are now warning legislators that the current lottery bill is a Double Trojan Horse. It would (1) give Indians the right to demand a compact from the Governor to set up full-fledged, Las Vegas style casinos in multiple locations around the state and (2) the bill’s loose definition of “lottery” would enable the gambling bosses we have battled for years to reopen their casinos with slot machines and other games activated by so-called “lottery tickets” purchased at casinos that have been shut down in recent years based on repeated rulings from the Alabama Supreme under our constitution’s current ban on “lotteries.”
As for the Indians, a lottery is “Class III” Gaming under federal guidelines. There is currently NO Class III allowed in Alabama. But federal law says that if ANY Class III gaming is permitted by state law, then the Indians have the right to a compact allowing them to operate ALL forms of class III gaming. Thus, legalizing a lottery will open wide Alabama’s doors to Las Vegas style casinos, gaming, replete with table games, slot machines, etc.
What would this ultimately mean for Alabama? First, of course, there is the immorality of funding our state by preying upon the poor and more vulnerable, when it should be the states responsibility to look out for those same people. Second, casino profits in the hands of a handful of gambling magnates would allow them to control Alabama politics. Do we really want gambling bosses to have the hundreds of millions of dollars in profits that will allow them to control the elections of our state for decades to come? Is a state run by the hand-picked candidates of gambling bosses the kind of state we want for our children and grandchildren?
I recently heard a lecture on an upcoming book entitled “The Wickedest City in the Country: Phenix City, Alabama”. It reminded me of that city’s 1954 horror story. Please, legislators, don’t make our citizens relive Phenix City statewide. Please reject the lottery and the resultant wholesale expansion of gambling in Alabama with its inevitable corrupting influence on all Alabama. To pay for necessary state expenditures, please use reliable, sound funding streams that do not rely on the state’s effectiveness in encouraging gambling addiction for their revenue.
Please continue conveying to your Alabama legislators your adamant opposition to expanding gambling.
Today, two pro-gambling bills were voted out of the Senate Tourism Committee and will advance to the full Senate. They are SB3, the Governor’s pure lottery bill and SB11, Senator McClendon’s bill that allows electronic video lottery terminals at the four dog tracks throughout the state and according to the Attorney General, could lead to casino gambling. These were passed by voice vote (no roll call vote).
These two bills will be debated on the floor of the Senate, possibly as early as tomorrow. Pray and contact your State Senator to urge him or her to oppose SB3 and SB11!
Another gambling bill is SB26 (Albritton-R) which would legalize on Indian reservations, types of gambling that are currently illegal under Alabama law for all other Alabama citizens.
It would thus lock in casino gambling in this state.
It would encourage casino expansion to multiple locations around the state – such as Birmingham!
It would ratchet up the pressure from the McGregors of the world to be allowed wholesale gambling rights.
Please ask your legislators to be real leaders and employ legitimate, reliable ways to fund government instead of turning to a casino environment with its multiple costs to the quality of life in Alabama.
The video above is from The Alabama Policy Institute. In these four short videos, leaders from the Gatekeepers Association of Alabama speak passionately to the fact that a lottery is not the answer for Alabama.
The Gatekeepers Association of Alabama describes itself as “a diverse group of pastors united to empower the Church to influence the government realm.” These videos feature Bishop Jim Lowe, pastor of the Guiding Light Church; Pastor Jody Trautwein, founder of the Joshua Generation, Inc.; and Pastor Randy W. Williams, pastor of Parkway Christian Fellowship.
The three Alabama pastors are joined by Bishop Robert E. Smith, Sr., pastor at Word of Outreach Christian Center and founder of Total Outreach for Christ Ministries, Inc. in Little Rock, Arkansas. Having seen what life is like before and after the implementation of a state-run lottery, Bishop Smith’s words are striking, as he enlightens us as to the harsh reality of the effects that a lottery has on a state.
WE CANNOT WAIT ANOTHER DAY!
Please call your state representative and your state senator today, and ask them NOT to vote for a lottery. Joe Godfrey, Executive Director of ALCAP, has issued an alert that we think needs to passed along to you immediately, as time is of the essence.
According to a Montgomery Advertiser article (click here to read the article), the Governor is planning to call a Special Session of the Alabama Legislature in order to find funding for Medicaid. The article implies (and we have heard from reliable sources) that a state-sponsored lottery will be the primary “solution” offered to the Medicaid funding problem, and for the lottery Constitutional Amendment to be on the November ballot, the Special Session will need to be held in early to mid-August.
If pastors and church members do not contact their House Members and State Senators NOW and urge them to oppose all pro-gambling bills during the anticipated Special Session, we will be facing a lottery referendum this November! Given our limited resources, it will be difficult for churches to stop such a vote on the November ballot.
The Alabama Supreme Court wrote several years ago that a “lottery” is defined as “any game of chance.” That means that if the people of Alabama vote for a lottery, the Legislature could come back and establish casinos throughout the state.
No state or government has ever gambled its way out of a financial crisis. Instead, gambling actually sucks money out of the economy and states that have legalized lotteries and casino gambling have continually had to raise their taxes to cover the lost revenue from other sources. California and Illinois are good examples of this.
It is also important to note that if the people of Alabama vote for a lottery, that will not be the end of it. Pro-gambling forces will continue to push for new forms of lottery ticket sales (Keno and scratch tickets, video terminals, etc.) and new types of gambling. Once a government becomes addicted to gambling dollars, that government will have to continue to “prop up” the gambling operations and expand gambling in order to keep revenue from gambling coming into the state.
A new documentary has been produced that shows the fallacy of state-sponsored gambling, especially lotteries. The movie is entitled, “Out of Luck.” The downloadable version from the internet contains language not suited for viewing in churches, but an “educational version” has been released that drops the sound when those words are used.
Joe Godfrey has a copy of the educational version DVD and is willing to travel to different areas of the state in order to show the 1 hour and 44 minute documentary to groups of pastors and area associations of churches. They will also try to have DVDs of the educational version available for churches to use. The cost of the DVDs will be $25 (their cost).
If you, or a group of area associations and churches would like to schedule a viewing in the next couple of weeks, please contact Joe at [email protected] or call the ALCAP office at 205.985.9062. Or, if you wish to order the educational DVD directly, you may contact Joe directly at [email protected]
From the Alabama Political Reporter, April 27, 2016
By Brandon Moseley
There are only five legislative days left in the 2016 Alabama Legislative Session, and the leadership plans on burning three of those this week. Both of the constitutionally mandated budgets have passed, so all that is left is deciding what bills live, and what bills die, when legislators vote to sine die this session.
One of the most controversial pieces of legislation facing the Senate is HB125, sponsored by State Representative Terri Collins (R-Decatur), which would create a State longitudinal data system to track Alabama school students as they progress through schools, on to college, and into the work force. Read the full story here.
Act now before the end of the session to ensure pro-life legislative victories! Your voice is needed to protect human life. All you have to do call or e-mail. Your legislators need to hear that you support the pro-legislation below.
<< HB376/SB363 (Butler, House and Willams [Senate]): The Alabama Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act would, if enacted, end dismemberment abortions – This bill would stop this barbaric practice and protect babies from the harmful pain when this type takes place.
<<SB205 (Sanford, Senate): Ban on Abortion Clinics 2,000 ft. away from a school. If enacted, this legislation would protect students from being targeted by abortion clinics.
<<HB157 (Mooney, House): Ban on Assisted Suicide outlaws assisted suicide in Alabama. Currently, Alabama has no protection to protect individuals from this practice.
<<HB158 (Wingo) Child Care Provider Inclusion Act protects adoption agencies from being closed by unfair government license requirements which violate the First Amendment.
Please find your legislators and let them know of your support for these important pieces of legislation and your support of pro-life efforts. Remember to be polite but passionate in your request for their support.
First step – Please call your Representative and Senator. Tell them you are their constituent and ask them if they are sponsoring any of the above bills. Thank them if they are a sponsor. Go to Eagle Forum of Alabama’s website to find your legislators at http://alabamaeagle.org/find-your-legislators.
Second step – Please call the leadership. Ask Senate and House leadership to support these pro-life measures.
Speaker Mike Hubbard: 334-242-7668
Pro Tem of the House, Rep. Victor Gaston: 334-242-7663
Pro Tem of the Senate, Del Marsh: 334-242-7877 (Montgomery)
Senate Rules Committee Chairman, Jabo Waggoner: 334-242-7892 (Montgomery) (Thank Jabo for his support of Dismemberment Bill).
If you have further questions on pro-life legislation this session, please contact Eagle Forum of Alabama at (205) 879-7096.
The Family Law Committee of the Alabama Law Institute authored House Bill 334 (HB334), or the Grandparent's Bill. The bill would [still] allow a court to override a parent's decision to grant a grandparent visitation, even if the parent is deemed fit. Unfortunately, HB334 passed in the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday, April 6, 2016. HB334 has been placed on the calendar and could be up for a floor vote in the Senate on Tuesday, April 26, 2016. So all day today and before noon on Tuesday, April 26, 2016, CALL AND EMAIL YOUR STATE SENATOR AND ASK HIM/HER TO VOTE NO ON HOUSE BILL 334. BE SURE TO INCLUDE A REASON WHY THE MEMBERS SHOULD VOTE AGAINST HB334. FEEL FREE TO USE ANY OF THE FOLLOWING REASONS TO EXPLAIN WHY COMMITTEE MEMBERS SHOULD VOTE NO ON HB334: · The bill would still allow a court to override a parent's decision regarding whether a grandparent may have visitation without showing that the parent is unfit. · The bill allows the state to take the role of fit parents in regards to grandparent's visitation. Parents know what is best of their child, not the state. · The bill is unconstitutional and would harm the parent-child(ren) relationship.
|1||ALBRITTON, Greg||334-242-7843||[email protected]|
|2||ALLEN, Gerald||334-242-7889||[email protected]|
|3||BEASLEY, Billy||334-242-7868||[email protected]|
|4||BLACKWELL, Slade||334-242-7851||[email protected]|
|5||BREWBAKER, Dick||334-242-7895||[email protected]|
|6||BUSSMAN, Paul||334-242-7855||[email protected]|
|7||CHAMBLISS, Clyde||334-242-7883||[email protected]|
|8||COLEMAN, Linda||334-242-7864||[email protected]|
|9||DIAL, Gerald||334-242-7874||[email protected]|
|10||DUNN, Priscilla||334-242-7793||[email protected]|
|11||FIGURES, Vivian Davis||334-242-7871||[email protected]|
|12||GLOVER, Rusty||334-242-7886||[email protected]|
|13||HIGHTOWER, Bill||334-242-7882||[email protected]|
|14||HOLLEY, Jimmy||334-242-7845||[email protected]|
|15||HOLTZCLAW, Bill||334-242-7854||[email protected]|
|16||LIVINGSTON, Steve||334-242-7858||[email protected]|
|17||MARSH, Del||334-242-7877||[email protected]|
|18||McCLENDON, Jim||334-242-7898||[email protected]|
|19||MELSON, Tim||334-242-7888||[email protected]|
|20||ORR, Arthur||334-242-7891||[email protected]|
|21||PITTMAN, Trip||334-242-7897||[email protected]|
|22||REED, Greg||334-242-7894||[email protected]|
|23||ROSS, Quinton T., Jr.||334-242-7880||[email protected]|
|24||SANDERS, Hank||334-242-7860||[email protected]|
|25||SANFORD, Paul||334-242-7867||[email protected]|
|26||SCOFIELD, Clay||334-242-7876||[email protected]|
|27||SHELNUTT, Shay||334-242-7794||[email protected]|
|28||SINGLETON, Bobby||334-242-7935||[email protected]|
|29||SMITH, Harri Anne||334-242-7879||[email protected]|
|30||SMITHERMAN, Rodger||334-242-7870||[email protected]|
|31||STUTTS, Larry||334-242-7862||[email protected]|
|32||WAGGONER, J. T. “Jabo”||334-242-7892||[email protected]|
|33||WARD, Cam||334-242-7873||[email protected]|
|34||WHATLEY, Tom||334-242-7865||[email protected]|
|35||WILLIAMS, Phil||334-242-7857||[email protected]|
You can read the bill in its entirety here . Eagle Forum of Alabama believes it is important to protect Alabama's families from unnecessary government intrusion. Eagle Forum of Alabama has found research which shows that states which have passed grandparents bills followed with passing legislation regulating brother and sister relationships in regards to visitation of nieces and nephews. If you have more questions about HB334 please contact the Eagle Forum of Alabama Office at (205) 879-7096. Links: ------  http://alisondb.legislature.state.al.us/ALISON/SearchableInstruments/ 2016RS/PrintFiles/HB334-int.pdf
The Alabama State Longitudinal Database System Bill or House Bill 125 (HB125) would create two new state agencies with no accountability and almost unlimited authority. The agencies’ sole purpose would be to collect information on private citizens. HB125 is currently back in the House with the Holley Amendment added which forces private schools to comply.
The first new agency created would be the Alabama Office of Education and Workforce Statistics, and the second is the powerful advisory board made up primarily of agency heads. This bill will apply to all public school students and workers leaving public education. It will collect private information on individuals, potentially through their entire lives. The purpose of this bill is to collect information on students, and monitor them indefinitely. As the bill states, “to create the Alabama Longitudinal Data System to provide for the matching of information about students from early learning through postsecondary education and into employment.” (pg. 1) The stated goal of the legislation is to, “guide decision makers at all levels.” (pg. 3) No clear basis or need for this mass amount of data collection on private citizens including students is provided. The bill contains only vague promises of confidentially with no actual method of protection or limitation on the data collection power of these new agencies. The bill claims to provide protections but provides none. “The protection and the maintenance of confidentiality of collected educational data, including compliance with the Federal Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), and all other relevant state and federal privacy laws, and all relevant state cyber security policies,” (pg. 5). Originally, FERPA was the federal law designed to protect family privacy in education settings. However, the Federal Department of Education gutted the law in December of 2011. On January 3, 2012, changes went into effect that allowed for the collection of student data by third parties. Those parties retain ownership of the data and may share or sell it at their discretion.
The first phrase from the bill listed above, is an empty promise, as nowhere in bill are there measures to protect the data. It is important to note that there are currently no State or Federal laws which apply to this bill in regard to protecting students’ personally identifiable information such as name, social security number, or family information. Even if all the information collected were dis-aggregate (meaning not on-its-own enough to identify an individual) it is still dangerous. Dis-aggregate information becomes personal information once you have just a few data points. Eagle Forum of Alabama opposes HB125, as it would create two extremely powerful agencies and violate the rights of Alabamians. If the government is going to seek any private information from citizens, they must provide a sound basis or get a warrant.
The Holley Amendment, which Eagle Forum of Alabama has also reviewed, has now passed. It does not solve the problems of HB125. The Holley Amendment actually creates additional problems such as requiring private schools receiving any state funding to comply with this data collection program. Go to Eagle Forum of Alabama’s website to find your legislators.
Take action now! Contact your State Representative and Senator and strongly request they oppose HB125. For more information contact Deborah Love, Executive Director of Eagle Forum of Alabama at (205) 879-7096.
“Uncle Sam is becoming “Uncle Shrink” to millions of schoolchildren, including many preschoolers, who are now subject to various psychology-focused educational components that have been implanted in federal education legislation over the past decade.” Read the entire article here.