Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Horseracing "Signature Industry" Myth

The shameful power-grab by the governor, the casino-crowd and the horse industry in Kentucky is remarked exponentially when the claim that horse-racing and the breeding, care and feeding of racehorses comprise the state’s “signature industry.” Nothing could be farther from the truth, at least in financial terms, the only area that makes much of a difference as far as putting food on the table is concerned.

The inordinate effort by the folks mentioned above to sew-up casino gambling for the racetracks, guaranteeing them first dibs on the “gaming” facilities, which means outright control, as well as the huge tax-advantage (30%) over all other “gaming” establishments is not even a subtle approach in the matter of “fixing” the so-called sport. It’s outright thievery, an expected characteristic of anything connected to gambling, whether on horse-races or anything else.

According to the Kentucky Equine Education Project (KEEP), the state’s equine economy exerts an estimated $4-billion impact on the state. It also makes claims for greatly enriching tourism, even though only a relative few days a year are devoted to racing with most of the benefits only then accruing to the Lexington and Louisville areas. It claims to offer 80,000 to 100,000 jobs to the economy, but does not mention the wages made by the thousands who knock stalls and otherwise do common labor on the farms and at the tracks. A good bet would be that most of those jobs are at or not far above minimum wage.

By comparison, the payroll at Toyota in Georgetown, according to its Web-site, is some $565 million annually, earned by 7,000 workers – in other words, jobs allowing for a good standard of living. Indeed, that annual income is more than 14% (just one factory) of the $4 billion claimed by KEEP. Since Toyota draws from 90 suppliers in Kentucky, its economic impact is obviously much greater than that of the horse industry, as explained below.

According to the state Cabinet for Economic Development, Kentucky’s Gross State Product (2006) was $146 billion. In 2006, manufacturing accounted for the greatest share of GSP – 18.7%. The horse industry was not listed among the top 20 contributors to the GSP, except as possibly part of agriculture, in the 17th slot at 1.6%, along with cattle, tobacco and other farm products.

These are hard, cold facts about Kentucky’s “signature industry,” notwithstanding “Unbridled Spirit” and all the rest. Observed in this light, KEEP may be shoveling a lot more propaganda than anything else. In any case, those who would lock casino “gaming” to racetrack gambling – with all that goes with that combo – are attempting to “fix” the “sports” so that the proper outcome is achieved, the devil take the hindmost – in this case the citizens who pay the freight (that 30% tax-break thing to allegedly “prop-up” the horse industry) and the suckers who pay the price.

As for “signature industry” claimers (the two-legged type), tobacco, bourbon and fast women arrived long before the fast horses…and the lottery, of course. Let’s hear it for the suckers!!!!

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

1 comment:

Kentucky Progress said...

Maybe if we gave the horse tracks casino licenses and let them open up whorehouses and sell cocaine they would really be something else!