Posts Tagged ‘state government’

The Tax On People Who Are Bad at Math

May 26, 2015

The Lottery: The Tax On People Who Are Bad at Math
Ambrose Bierce defined the lottery as “a tax on people who are bad at math,” but it’s really a tax on the dreams of the poor.

Last year Americans spent $70 billion on state-sponsored lottery tickets, more than on books, video games, movies and sporting events combined. The poorest third of households buy half of all lottery tickets, and state lotteries advertise most aggressively in poor neighborhoods, as Derek Thompson points out in The Atlantic.

Why do the poor play the lottery?

“It’s not that poor people don’t understand that the lottery has a near-zero chance of making them dynastically wealthy. It’s that they think everything else has an actually-zero chance. ….  State lotteries, in other words, don’t just prey on poor people’s dreams—they do that for everyone—but rather on desperate dreams.”

— “Why you should never, ever play the lottery,” Matt O’Brien, Washington Post


John Oliver Plays (With) the Lottery

November 12, 2014

John Oliver Plays (With) the Lottery

Americans spent $68 billion playing the lottery last year, more than they spent on movie tickets, music, professional sports, video games and porn combined.. You can think of state lotteries as a tax on the dreams of the poor, since the poor spend more on these state-sponsored gambling schemes than more well-off people. Lottery ads sell hope, but the odds of winning are hopeless (1 in 176 million).

States sold the lottery concept to voters by saying the money earned would go to good causes like education, but it doesn’t, it merely displaces existing funding instead of supplementing it, so school budgets are flat or reduced.

Lottery winners are notoriously bad with their money. Hey, if they were good with money, would they play the freakin’ lottery in the first place?

John Oliver recently analyzed the lottery on his television program: