Last time, I argued lotteries were non-voluntary taxes on the poor of upwards of 20 cents on the dollar. Today, I explain what to do about that.
An initial idea might be to just do away with state sponsored lotteries. Just close them down and the non-voluntary tax disappears. It’s as simple as that. Well, there’s only one problem: democracy kinda doesn’t work that way. And nobody wants lotteries to disappear.
Ask the poor who purchase lotto tickets. They want their chance at the ivory tower. No matter how distant, distorted, or unrealistic.
Ask the average American. Almost exclusively, you’ll hear talk of great things that the tax money from lotteries does and the awesome chance at fame and fortune like some popular reality TV show.
Ask your elected officials. They will talk about constituents loving lottery and all the benefits to the budget.
However, the benefits to a state’s budget are only for show. Money from lotteries goes into accounts that assume the money is coming in. It’s a cart before the horse problem. There is no evidence to suggest that money from lotteries INCREASES benefits to anything.
Assumingly, if lotteries go to paying for school or city beautification, that city or neighborhood never see INCREASES in funds for those touchy feely programs. Instead, all that happens is a switching in the accounting books. Now, rather than property taxes or sales taxes or income taxes going toward these programs, the same amount of money just comes from somewhere else…the poor.
So, how do you deal with a problem that the powerful like as an option because it redirects tax burdens away from them? What do you do with a system created by the wealthy and powerful when those it takes advantage of actually buy into the system? You force a change to the crazy accounting that goes on at the state budget level. And you redirect the money back to the very neighborhoods it takes from.
Easy. Currently, lawmakers simply redirect funds and shift things around. Pass a law mandating that funds from lotteries must go back to the neighborhoods where the tickets are purchased. That law should also stipulate that money cannot simply be shifted. That is, if $10,000 is already being spent on public education in Neighborhood A, you can’t redirect that $10k into something less popular and say the lottery money is sending $10k to public schools in poor areas. No. That initial $10k must stay in public education and everything from the lottery winnings must go toward programs in the same neighborhoods it takes from…much the same way property taxes do.
If that program is public education, so be it. If it’s gambler’s anonymous, that’s fine too. What matters is that the funds be spent directly on those purchasing chances at the American Dream. That way, everyone wins. Well, not everyone…the poor are no longer taken advantage of, which means those in positions of power are no longer in charge…or are they?
This plan only deals with the direct bottom-up tax situation with lotteries. It does nothing for the fact that the powerful will continue to keep their positions of power. All this does is quell the poor into submission for another stint of time not yet reached.