Pittsburgh Legal Back Talk

Legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus.

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What is a Hobson’s Choice? Go Look It Up While You Still Can.

Posted By Cliff Tuttle | October 23, 2009

Posted by Cliff Tuttle (c) 2009

SUMMARY: Authorizing table gaming in Pennsylvania casinos should be a difficult question. Instead, it involves life or death for many public libraries that cannot survive without state funding.

I don’t know what Andrew Carnegie thought about gambling. However, I doubt if he would be pleased to hear that the continued funding of some of the very public libraries that he paid to build a century ago is riding on the passage of legislation authorizing table games at casinos in Pennsylvania. More than likely, he would have a classic Scottish fit of temper and would tell us off.

And we would have nothing to say. We deserve the lecture.

That is why the table gaming legislation presents the legislature with a Hobson’s Choice. The jump from slot machines to a full service casino is a serious issue. Under less stressful circumstances, the proposal might well be turned down or postponed indefinately. But with the rest of the budget approved, how can anyone oppose the table gaming legislation when our libraries are being held hostage? State aid to higher education is also in the package. How did we ever get in this quandry?

Why are we closing libraries in this age of exploding wealth and knowledge? We should be expanding them to take advantage of the exponential opportunities afforded by the internet and electronic media. Libraries should be leaders in this trend, not meek followers.

Investing in libraries during the last century and a half has brought us endless cultural dividends. For example, the great Pittsburgh playwright August Wilson learned the language while reading books he borrowed from a Carnegie Library as a boy. So have countless others. But there are financial revenues, too. A few moments reflection should confirm that. Investing in libraries brings prosperity just as surely as investing in highways.



CLIFF TUTTLE has been a Pennsylvania lawyer for over 45 years and (inter alia) is a real estate litigator and legal writer. The posts in this blog are intended to provide general information about legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus. However, this information does not constitute legal advice and there is no lawyer-client relationship created when you read this blog. You are encouraged to leave comments but be aware that posted comments can be read by others. If you wish to contact me in privacy, please use the Contact Form located immediately below this message. I will reply promptly and in strict confidence.

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