Thursday, May 23, 2013

You Can't Win If You Don't Play...Or Even If You Do

I wish I had purchased my Powerball ticket at a Publix supermarket in Zephyrhills, Florida, because that’s where the person who recently won the second largest jackpot in U.S. lottery history bought his or hers. He or she may have 99 problems but being broke ain’t one: the winning jackpot consisted of more than $590 million clams.

Snyder and Scott won the prize for
"Worst Two GOP Governors named Rick in America"
That’s a whole lot of clams.

Zephyrhills is small – it’s home to fewer than 13,340 residents – and is located 30 miles northeast of downtown Tampa on the west side of the state. Why the state that helped give us President Dubya in 2000, has “In God We Trust” as its official motto and is governed by one of the creepiest-looking politicians in the country – Republican Rick Scott – is now home to one of the richest individuals ever is a mystery to me.

I was just starting to feel my envy turn to rage and my disappointment to disgust when I read an article entitled, “How Lotteries are Bad for Players, Winners and States.” According to the article:

  • Lottery players lose an average of 47 cents on the dollar for each ticket.
  • Tickets actually act as an implicit tax of 38 percent.
  • One study found that lottery sales are highest in our poorest neighborhoods because they exploit low-income individuals’ desire to escape poverty.
  • As much as 70 percent of lottery winners lose their money eventually, and some winners become losers due to bankruptcies, drugs and fractured families.
  • Lottery revenue is really a regressive tax because states use them to fund public services like education.
  • While states that have lotteries increased per-capita spending on education at first, after time they ended up decreasing overall spending, while states without them increased investment.
I wrote before about how Anita and I would set up a charitable foundation and give lots of money away if we were lucky enough to experience such a windfall. (Click here to read “You Can’t Win If You Don’t Play Nice,” April 16, 2011.) I just learned the odds of hitting the Powerball jackpot are one in more than 175 million. Math isn’t my forté but even I know that scouting for office space for my foundation is premature.

Now that I know the lottery is regressive, exploitive and evil, I’ve decided to buy just one Powerball ticket per drawing as opposed to my usual two. Hey, you can’t win if you don’t play...


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