Johns Hopkins Magazine - February 1995 Issue

Public Policy and International Affairs

Gambling on profits, etc.

Casino revenues are no sure bet

Cash-starved communities full of tax-weary constituents have begun, in increasing numbers, to look at legalized casino gambling as a source of revenue. The phenomenal cash flow of casinos in Atlantic City has prompted advocates to campaign for legalized gaming in Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and other Atlantic seaboard communities.

Paul Lande, senior fellow at Hopkins's Institute for Policy Studies (IPS), recently studied the implications of legalized casinos in Baltimore. "I was surprised at how much business these casinos generate, and how rapidly they grow," he says. He found that from 1982 to 1990, dollars spent on legal gambling grew throughout the United States at almost twice the rate of personal incomes.

Lande notes that for Baltimore, casino gambling might recapture revenue currently flowing to Atlantic City from Baltimore gamblers, and fit into a local strategy to increase tourism. But, he warns, "my concern is that these casinos [in Atlantic City] are so successful because they have a regional monopoly. As more cities legalize gaming, what will the source of growth be?"

The Abell Foundation of Baltimore sponsored Lande's study. The foundation wanted him to survey casino gaming throughout the United States and identify the likely consequences should Maryland and Baltimore legalize it. Among his conclusions:

Though he maintained neutrality in his study report, Lande admits to some personal reservations about legalizing casinos. Besides increased crime and dependence on a vulnerable source of revenue, he points out other problems. When local property owners fund schools through taxes, they can hold local officials accountable for how their tax dollars are spent. Lande wonders if the same sort of accountability would exist were schools primarily funded by money from out-of-town gamblers.

Beyond that, says Lande, there is a moral dimension. The state already promotes gambling through advertisements for the Maryland lottery. "The problem with casino gaming is, it expands the state's interest in promoting gambling," he says. "What kinds of behaviors are encouraged?" --Dale Keiger

The debate on race and intelligence continues

The controversy over research that links intelligence, genetics, and race prompted the Hopkins Black Student Union and other student organizations to sponsor a forum at Shriver Hall in December. Three Hopkins faculty members and a guest speaker from Princeton University debated "Ability, Achievement, and Race" before a large and vocal audience.

The 1994 publication of The Bell Curve, by Charles Murray and the late Richard J. Herrnstein, has brought renewed attention to the work of Hopkins sociology professor Robert Gordon. In addition, a feature story in Rolling Stone magazine about the controversial Pioneer Fund, which promotes research in eugenics, noted that Gordon has been a recipient of its largesse. Partway through the fall semester, some students advocated a boycott of Gordon's courses and called for his dismissal, despite his status as a tenured faculty member.

Gordon opened the forum with a rapid-fire summary of his research conclusions--findings that, as he explained them, basically match several of those of The Bell Curve's authors: that intelligence is measurable and heritable, that environment plays a lesser role than genetics in determining intelligence, that among the races blacks tend toward lower intelligence test scores than whites, and that these findings have serious implications for society. Gordon claimed that despite efforts at improving education, the differences in IQ test scores among races have not diminished. "It is something that has a resistance to change that is troubling," he said.

Howard Taylor, professor of sociology at Princeton, then delivered a rebuttal. "Don't let anybody ever tell you intelligence is something measured by an IQ test," Taylor said. He accused Gordon, Murray, et al. of ignoring significant environmental factors, including expectations: when minority students keep hearing that they are low achievers, Taylor said, they begin to achieve less.

Taylor attacked some of the studies on which Gordon has based his work. In one study, which purported to examine the intelligence of identical twins raised apart in significantly different environments, Taylor says the appendices to the research show that a notable number of the twins grew up in the same neighborhoods, lived in nearby houses, attended the same schools, and received the same guidance counseling. One pair was described as "living amicably next door to each other." Said Taylor, "If they're 'separated,' how can they be living amicably next door to each other?"

Taylor also accused Gordon of using outmoded theories. "You'll notice a lot of the literature he cites is old," Taylor said. Both Gordon and the authors of The Bell Curve failed to consider data that does not support their conclusions. "They make it look like science, but it's not," he said.

From Hopkins's Institute for Policy Studies, sociologist Patricia Fern ndez-Kelly accused Murray and Herrnstein of confusing correlation with cause. Because the authors noticed a correlation between low IQ test scores and poverty, she said, they jumped to the conclusion that low IQ causes poverty. "Maybe they have the causal relationship backwards," she said; perhaps poverty causes low scores on IQ tests. She wryly likened their logic to noticing a correlation between owning a house and having money in the bank, and therefore assuming that owning the house caused the money to be in the bank.

The presentations were followed by a contentious question-and-answer period, with most of the speakers assailing Gordon. Hopkins geography professor David Harvey asked why, if the research of scholars like Gordon and Murray is so demonstrably flawed, does it command so much attention? Said Harvey, "The fact that we're here now is a measure of how deteriorated is the state of race relations in this society."

Much of the research in the field relies on categorizing people according to race. One questioner, an African American man, unintentionally pointed out the inherent pitfalls of such classifications. He took the microphone to express his disappointment that there were no black speakers on the stage. This caused considerable amusement in the hall and among the panelists--the questioner apparently did not realize that Howard Taylor of Princeton, whose skin did not appear appreciably darker under stage lights, is African American. --DK

Germans remain unaware of non-profit sector

Non-profit organizations (NPOs) are a significant and underestimated sector of the modern German economy, according to two scholars from Hopkins's Institute for Policy Studies who presented their findings at a recent seminar conducted by Hopkins's American Institute for Contemporary German Studies.

IPS director Lester M. Salamon noted that NPOs employ 1 million people, and accounted for 11 percent of the former West Germany's economic growth during the '80s. He offered more statistics: 40 percent of German hospital patient-days take place in hospitals operated by NPOs. Sixty percent of people in residential-care facilities and 33 percent of all children in daycare receive these services from NPOs.

Yet most Germans remain unaware of how important the third sector is to their economy, said Helmut K. Anheier, an IPS research associate. He noted a survey in which only 29 percent of respondents said they had heard of Diakonie, a network of German Protestant NPOs, even though Diakonie employs more people than Volkswagen, the largest German industrial corporation. Anheier believes that the German government should begin acquainting its constituents with the size and importance of the non-profit sector in order to avoid public suspicion that the scope of the sector had been deliberately concealed for some reason. Such suspicion would erode public support for non-profit institutions, Anheier said. --DK

Send EMail to Johns Hopkins Magazine

Return to table of contents.