Here to receive Political USA updates and exclusives
Just about every state is running some sort of authorized
lottery these days. Whether it be the pick 3 and pick 4 or the
multimillion dollar jackpot varieties, lotteries are great ways for
states to generate revenue for schools and other sorts of programs.
So why am I going to complain about them? Because that's what I do.
I am a fan of gambling in concept. I think it should be legal in every
state. I don't gamble because, frankly, I stink at it. I over think
things. I try to apply strategy where none should exist. I am even bad
at guessing the answers to questions on the Millionaire show. I am
what Vegas thug-types would call a prime sucker.
That being said, everyone is not me. People work hard for their money
(OK, other people work hard for their money) and if they want to blow
a hundred bucks on a football game wager, why should the state care?
Oh that's right, the state views gambling as wrong. It destroys
families. It's a vice. The state cannot condone any activity that it
deems immoral or oppressive.
But wait...The state figured out it can generate cash from gambling.
Not through the traditional method of taxing gambling, but with
running it's own numbers racket. They can use this money to "fund
the schools"(wink, wink). So they institute a state lottery. This
way people can go about their immoral activity and then they can help
the kids. Everyone wins.
First of all, considering that I would go to jail for performing the
exact same act above (with much better odds), I cannot comprehend the
willingness for the public to go along with such a scheme. When police
officers go about their town looking for bars that pay out on their
video poker machines, the state is running this multi-million dollar
'pick-um' game. The state should minimally hold itself within the
structure of the laws they create, not legislating the morality of
preventing gambling on one hand, and scooping up billions on that very
once worked in a food store that was a "certified lottery
representative." Prior to this experience, I didn't have a
particular problem with the lottery (other than it was the state doing
what it told us we couldn't do). There are people who invest large
portions of their day devoted to 'number tracking'. They would write
up number histories, buy books and spend countless hours devoted to
trying to determine what set of pick 3 numbers would come up next.
These are people who easily would shell out $40 a day for a grand
prize of $500. None of these people ever get ahead of the lottery.
They would have to win once every two weeks just to break even. Often,
they would go stretches of months without winning.
These weren't suburban housewives with a little extra cash to throw
around. The food store that employed me was in a working class
neighborhood. These people could best be described as 'lower-middle
class'. These are the same people who, after blowing $20 dollars on
instant scratch off lottery tickets, would complain that the price of
milk went up 20 cents. These were not people who can afford a $15,000
per year lottery habit.
What the lottery comes down to is a tax (on those who are bad at
math). It taxes the poor looking to cash in on a big jackpot. It then
takes some of that money and gives it to middle class schools. The
rest goes to the general fund and that money will go to subsidize some
business, which probably doesn't need to be subsidized. It's like
Robin Hood in reverse; Take from the poor and give to the rich.
Gambling is a vice. It is going to exist in one shape or another
whether the government forbids it or not. As with all vices, the
government has no place trying to protect you from destroying
yourself. Assisting you in that action, that's another matter
© The Cynic, 2001
you joined The Cynic's newsletter yet? Just send a blank email to:
Bret Hbrek welcomes NARAL to the Pro-choice crusade
Scott Gillette responds to William Swann's "John McCain's good
Paul Conroy warns us conservatives
won't have Bill Clinton to help them raise money anymore
View expressed are
those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Political