Creating wealth vs. having fun

Think about the possibilities if we focused on building up manufacturing over building casinos

It’s the morning after the Super Bowl. I didn’t watch the game, but I didn’t have to. It’s on the front pages and all over the networks. The earthquake in Turkey with its ever-soaring death toll, the Chinese spy balloons, war in Ukraine, inflation, even the classified documents scandals, can’t seem to compete with the Super Bowl.

It’s like gaming and gambling are becoming our biggest obsessions. Now that we can even bet on games legally, those office pools may become a thing of the past. Long gone are the days when you had to go to Las Vegas to find a cassino; we’re practically surrounded by them.

A neighbor’s daughter, who works as a dealer in a Vegas casino, came to visit some time ago. I asked her, “How can I make money in a casino?” Without any hesitation, she responded, “Truthfully, the only way to make money in a casino is to stay out of it! Yes, there are aberrations, but they’re few and far between.

They tend not to last long.”

If you stop for gas and the pay-at-the-pump function isn’t working, you have to go inside. If the Powerball jackpot is up there, you’re going to wait in line, often a long line, as people, who look like they can ill afford it, buy their tickets. In order to pay those multimillion-dollar prizes, millions of people have to lose money.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with having a little fun, and lots of people enjoy it, but it’s usually not a moneymaker for anyone besides the gambling establishments. At the end of the day, thousands of dollars will have changed hands, but not a single dollar is created. The wealth is redistributed.

Industries like manufacturing, on the other hand, create wealth. If we do them right, the sum of the whole is much greater than the sum of the parts. The difference to a large degree is what created the American dream. Companies could pay their people well and still make handsome profits. Even lower-level employees were often able to buy their own houses, creating homes for them and their families.

Let’s say you wanted to build a car. Assuming you could get all the parts, putting them all together is a monumental task. It could take years, especially since you don’t have the equipment or know how to make it quick and easy.

A manufacturer has facilities designed to mass-produce cars. There’s an assembly line and the parts are efficiently acquired and brought to just where they’re needed. The people who build the cars do it repeatedly and get very good at it. Nowadays, much of the process is automated. This is very expensive, but the cost to build a car is less than the selling price.

A lot of people make good livings working in manufacturing. And yes, we can make good money working in a casino, but there’s a huge difference. When we buy a car, we pay for it, but we have the car. When we lose money in a casino, we get nothing for it, except perhaps some fun, but it’s not always worth what it costs us.

My grandparents came from Québec.

We French love to play cards, usually 45s. We learned to play as kids watching our grandparents, uncles, aunts and others play. We kids wanted to become good enough to play with them at the big table. It was mostly a nickel-and-dime affair. On a bad night, you might lose 50 cents, and on a good night you might make a couple of bucks. No one ever went broke, and they were all successful in their careers.

It’s a free country, and we can pretty much do what we want as long as we’re not harming anyone. Even so, we need to get back to doing more things that create wealth. We’ve exported far too many good-paying jobs, and the gaming industry, despite its phenomenal growth, is not going to bail us out.

Just imagine: If we could become as good at manufacturing as we are at football and other sports, good-paying jobs could become plentiful once again.

Ronald J. Bourque, a consultant and speaker from Salem, has had engagements throughout the United States, Europe and Asia. He can be reached at 603-898-1871 or

Categories: Business Advice