Here’s what I think about the Bill Bennett
controversy. I don’t know him, but I’ve long admired him, and still do.
Nevertheless, most of the criticism of him over this gambling thing is just.
Except for buying the occasional lottery ticket, I’m not a gambler, but I
don’t think it’s no big deal. When video poker machines came to my Louisiana
hometown, it wasn’t long before working-class families got into trouble. The
mother of one of my schoolmates tried to kill herself after she bankrupted
the family via video poker. A relative of mine got into serious trouble with
video poker, and nearly lost her marriage. There was lots of that sort of
thing. I think gambling — to the extent that I think about it at all — is
a scourge, though not necessarily a sin. Anyway, I don’t know how a
believing Catholic, as Bennett professes to be, can justify putting millions
of dollars into the pockets of casinos, even if it never directly hurt his
family. Christians believe it a moral imperative that we be good stewards of
the resources God has given us. This is not to say that every spare farthing
has to go into the poor box, but throwing away gargantuan sums — what was
it allegedly, $8 million? — at casinos is excessive by anyone’s standards,
to say nothing of the standards of a man who has made a fortune, and a name
for himself, preaching moral rigor. Bennett’s a good man, and a fine public
servant. He’s got to take his lumps, though.