Honolulu Lite


Monday, July 29, 2002

Andy’s ideas ripe
for the picking

Last week I congratulated Andy Anderson for bringing a little life to the comatose governor's race by proposing his "Pineapple Lottery."

No one can accuse Andy, who at one time wanted to plop a big old butt-ugly Ferris Wheel on the shoreline in Kakaako, of not thinking "out of the box." Andy not only thinks "out of the box," he thinks "out of the box factory" and at times "out of the entire known box world."

At a time when Republican gubernatorial candidate Linda Lingle is busy trying to look gubernatorial and the Democrats are busy eating their young, the governor's race is a real snoozer. Where's the mud? Where's the attack ad? Where's the column material?

So, thankfully, Andy steps forward with his Pineapple Lottery idea, which, to the astonishment of many nongamblers, has absolutely nothing to do with winning pineapples.

A Pineapple Lottery is just a cute name for a regular old lottery in which you pay a buck in an effort to win a million bucks, even though statistically, you'd have the same chance of winning the million if you threw that dollar off the tip of Diamond Head. I say "statistically" because, obviously, if you don't enter a lottery, you can't win and somebody always wins and that somebody, historically speaking, is not you. Or me.

My brother bought me some Oregon lottery tickets recently. I never got to hold the tickets and didn't even know what numbers I had so I could check them on the Internet. He just told me later that he had bought me the tickets and I had lost. Well, that was fun.

I don't think the Oregon lottery has a cute name like the "Pouring Down Rain Lottery" or the "Beaver Lottery." It doesn't need to. Oregon voters long ago let in all kinds of gambling, starting with lottery and dog racing and then blackjack and finally full-on casinos.

That's the usual progression when it comes to gambling. You don't just spring casinos on people. You warm them up with cheap games like lottery or bingo and bring in the mortgage manglers later.

Andy Anderson claims his "Pineapple Lottery" wouldn't open the door to other forms of gambling in Hawaii and would bring much-needed money directly to school classrooms. Nevertheless, as I said last week, how can we be sure that a "Pineapple Lottery" wouldn't lead to "Mango Dog Racing," "Banana Blackjack" and the "Guava Slots." We can't, but naming games after tropical fruit does seem to make gambling seem more jolly and less threatening. Who'd ever vote to legalize "Pilau Poker," "Roadkill Roulette," "Coronary Thrombosis Craps" or the dreaded "Broccoli Baccarat?"

The Pineapple Lottery likely will never ripen into law. But simply by proposing it, Anderson makes himself seem like the top banana in the idea department and his Democratic challengers a bunch of sour grapes just sitting in the box.

Charles Memminger, winner of National Society of Newspaper Columnists awards, appears Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. E-mail

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