In Short

The air traffic controllers hardly deserve flowers for refraining from an illegal strike. Yet dissatisfaction usually runs deep when such steps are contemplated by ordinarily law-abiding citizens. Even now it is uncertain whether union members will ratify the settlement achieved this week.

But the Reagan administration, in its first major labor test, came off well by responding to the controllers' case sufficiently to forestall the strike -- while holding firm on the top price tag ($40 million) it found acceptable.

The case against the spread of legalized gambling is basically a moral one, withholding the stamp of acceptability from a source of individual and social degeneraion. The case form it, on the other hand, is a crassly commercial one, as in the Massachusetts communities that want to follow Atlantic City and risk the corruption brought by casinos in hopes of local prosperity. So the example of Atlantic City must be noted, not only the increase in crime since the arrival of casinos three years ago but the rise in inflation -- and now the report that most of the casinos there lost money in the first quarter of this year. Indeed, several would-be operators have put off or abandoned their intentions.

Any place contemplating casinos ought to be reminded that there are more ways than one in which gambling doesn't pay.

What a sorry spectacle. Tennis star John McEnroe staining the air at Wimbledon with insults and expletives in petty rage over official decisions. Talent doesn't excuse such tantrums, whether spontan eous or part of an act.

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