See You in San Juan

I’ve been to Puerto Rico. In fact, there is a humorous story years ago about flying into San Juan, engine problems and five guys with buckets waiting by the runway in case of more trouble. But I won’t bore you with more details.

President Obama is going to make the same trip (well, not exactly, but you get the picture) next week. Although many of the four million Caribbean island residents are excited, it’s the 4.6 million Puerto Ricans (including 850,000 in Florida) living in the U.S. who are being targeted with this trip, presidential critics say.

John F. Kennedy was the last U.S. president to visit Puerto Rico — 50 years ago. The island has been a U.S. territory for 112 years. Don’t expect any major change in that status.

CQ Daily put it this way:

Some will want Obama to endorse statehood for the territory; others will press him to embrace independence for the island; yet another group will urge him to leave things just the way they are — which is what’s sure to happen, because the population is so triple-split on its desires.

But hey, I’m sure the President will have a better flight experience than the Schumans did. 

Looking for a Lottery Rebound

Personally, I have nothing against the lottery. In fact, I joined co-workers back in the 1990s in one of those infamous "everybody throw a few dollars in and we’ll all retire early when we hit it big" plans, only to never, ever get close in several years of playing. We really only earned enough once in a while to buy more tickets. But then I guess that’s why they call it a game of chance.

The number of lottery games have seemingly multiplied at a rapid pace since then. But with the Great Recession of the last few years, and certainly a few other factors, far fewer lottery players have been taking their chances.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, lottery revenues declined in 25 states in fiscal year 2009. In addition, they were flat in 10 states and increased in only seven. Indiana had the dubious distinction of the biggest drop, with revenues going down 18.1%. Puerto Rico, Oregon and Arizona were the only others with double digit drops.

North Carolina, with a relatively new lottery, saw revenues increase 17.4%. Others on the positive side of the ledger: North Dakota, Iowa, Ohio, Kentucky, Louisiana and Minnesota.

Finally, the seven states that have not authorized lotteries: Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Mississippi, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming.

At one point, many in Indiana questioned whether the lottery was a good idea. That was before horse racing, riverboats, racinos and the like. The tax dollars generated by the gaming industry have become an essential part of the state budget. That’s the safest bet one can make.