Saturday, March 31, 2012

A Tax on the Poor and the Stupid

One of my bugaboos is the lottery, recently in the news because its jackpot has reached more than a half billion dollars. I see in the morning news today that there were several winners in the most recent drawing.

Who plays the lottery? Not Donald Trump or Bill Gates. They've already got their millions. Nor people who are smart and have figured out that the state gives you much worse odds than you would get in Las Vegas or even from the local Mafia numbers game. The two kinds of people who play the lottery are the poor (or at least not rich) and the dumb. This makes it, in effect, a highly regressive tax on the poor and the stupid.

The lottery is deeply corrupting. Instead of promoting a work ethic that invites people to better their lives through hard work and education, the state invites people to hope for a quick shortcut to a life of leisure. It used to be that chasing after "get rich quick schemes" was the infallible mark of a loser. Forget about that, it was said; buckle down, work hard and you will find success. Now it is expected that everyone buys his ticket. Those who don't are dismissed as spoilsports. In our corrupt vision, we demonize as "one percenters" people who have had the vision, tenacity and persistence to create products and services that people voluntarily buy in numbers enough to make a man rich. Instead, we celebrate the occasional fool who, through luck rather than hard work and inspiration, happens to pick the right series of numbers. What wealth could be more undeserved than that?

The lottery is pure exploitation, and the defenses of it morally repellant. On Fox News this morning, the hosts praised the lottery because its revenues allegedly go towards "education and social services." Education? Why put all that effort into school when the state dangles a life of ease in front of you for the mere price of a lottery ticket? Anyone with an education should understand how and why the lottery is a scam and never play it again. The fact that allegedly educated people dump their money into the lottery shows the value of the "education" all that money is buying. Social Services? My father calculated that the amount spent on this recent lottery jackpot amounts to $5 for every man, woman and child in the country. Again, it's not Bill Gates who's buying all those tickets. Perhaps if all the lower and middle class people blowing their money on "investing" (Fox News's word) in lottery tickets, there wouldn't be quite such a need for social services? The lottery is classic Big Government exploitation. In the name of "helping the poor" through education and social services, the state encourages the poor to impoverish themselves by feeding Leviathan through the lottery, thereby exacerbating the problems the lottery was allegedly put in place to solve. But, of course, the lottery isn't really about helping the poor or anybody else, but is simply another instance of Leviathan expanding wherever and whenever it can.

1 comment:

gtye said...

Your father made a mistake. The amount spent per person is about $5, not $50. Sorry about that. It is still a significant amount.
Your father