Lottery and Voluntary Taxes

With the recent hype from the Mega Millions lottery of $600 million, I started thinking about lotteries. No. I didn’t buy a ticket. But I did think about it. And I do know many people purchased 10k tickets. No, that was not an auto-correct mistake. $10,000! All in hopes of winning the massive payout of hundreds of millions of dollars. A gamble to find a way into the American Dream! There in lies the problem.

The American Dream is a fallacy. Not only is it just untrue that you can go from rags to riches (which is the American Dream). It is also untrue that winning the lottery leads to that American Dream. Damn near every person who has won the lottery has ended back where they were prior…within 1 year.

Now the real problem: the lottery is a tax on the poor while thriving off the irrational hopes and dreams of those same poor individuals.

I’ve heard some claim that the lottery, because it is voluntarily, it is not truly a tax in the evil government way. The fact that the majority of players live under the poverty line means nothing…because it’s voluntary. However there is a flaw in the logic. It’s only partially voluntary.

Rather than giving the complicated explanation, I’ll give an explanation in the form of an analogy. In this case, the grandfather clause.

The grandfather clause was called such because it said, if your grandfather could vote, you were eligible to vote in the US. As it was written, it said nothing about being black or unwhite. All it said was that as long as your grandfather could vote, you could vote. Most understand now that though race was never IN the law, it was implicit! Why? Because that’s how the law was used and the outcome of the law, blacks were kept from voting booths!

The same is true of state lotteries. The government runs the lottery and takes home roughly 20% of the cost of the ticket. 20%! What other tax single tax in the U.S. is equivalent to 20 cents on the dollar!!!???

And who buys lottery tickets? Middle income people? Children? The wealthy? Labradors? If you’ve picked up on my sarcasm, you know the answer to each of these is no. The only people who purchase lottery tickets is the poor. Poor people who wish and hope for a big payout and the American Dream.

Secondarily, many claim it’s voluntary. Which is mostly true. I live below the poverty line but I don’t buy lottery tickets. Just because I’m the exception to the rule does not make it voluntary. Eating meat is voluntary. Voting is voluntary. Paying for gasoline is voluntary. But guess what??? Those are only partially voluntary.

How voluntary is it to NOT play the slots after you walk into a casino? How voluntary is it to NOT purchase a candy bar at the check out line? How voluntary is it to pick from the TWO candidates during a presidential election?

Lotteries are torturous play with the hopes and dreams of the poor. Convince them of a dream that doesn’t exist and provide them a “chance” for that dream for a mere $1…and you end up with a pseudo-voluntary tax on the poor via modern psychology 101.

One might expect me to suggest that we should do away with the lottery then. WRONG! But stay tuned for what should be done.

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