How much did you spend in lottery tickets last year?

I turned 18 in 1998; lottery wasn’t legal in my state then, but I went to college close to the border, and sometimes friends and I would hop over the line and get a ticket and some cheap gas (Georgia stations were selling it at $0.75/gallon for a while back then!) and a (1 dollar) lottery ticket.  We probably did this six or seven times during my freshman year.  When they legalized the lottery in my state a few years later, I probably played a couple times, just for the novelty.  My husband put in a few dollars a week with some co-workers for a while several years back.  I don’t think either of us has bought a single ticket, or even really thought about it, in years, despite the fact that we certainly visit places that sell tickets several times a week, pass billboards for it on a daily basis, and are subject to some of the most irritating radio and TV commercials for it ever written. 

Of course, we’re middle class.  But if we were “less fortunate“. . . (via Nealz Nuze)

The devious slogan for the New York State lottery is “All you need is a dollar and a dream.” Such state lotteries are a regressive form of taxation, since the vast majority of lottery consumers are low-income. The statistics are bleak: Twenty percent of Americans are frequent players, spending about $60 billion a year. The spending is also starkly regressive, with lower income households being much more likely to play. A household with income under $13,000 spends, on average, $645 a year on lottery tickets, or about 9 percent of all income.

How many times have you heard some variation on “the rich are different from you and me”?  I think, instead, that the poor are the ones that are different.  The more I see in life, the more I see that, by and large (but of course, not without exceptions), the poor stay poor because they do things that make them poor.  Things that seem not only stupid but outright bizarre to me.  It’s not just throwing away significant amounts of all too scarce money on a “dream” (more like a fantasy) of a lottery, it’s a whole slew of things that demonstrate similar poor planning and lack of forethought, and an overall failure to accept that success almost always takes work and patience.

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3 Responses

  1. I agree with you on this one. I worked at Target for the last 21 months, and it became starkly clear why some people are in that almost-minimum wage job and will never get out. While most of my co-workers were hard-working people will better goals in mind, many of them had a poor work ethic that will prevent them from promotions and better jobs. Those same people were also the ones who had poor money management–many of them were buying things (junk) and even cars they can’t afford. Moreover, I should point out that poor people are more likely to be smokers, which is a very expensive habit.

    It’s clear to me that poverty is a result of behavior, not necessarily circumstances (with some exceptions, I’m sure). The answer is not giving them more money, but teaching them how to manage the money they do have, and how to earn more. Even with best intentions however, there will always be poor people because there will always be those who won’t or can’t work.

  2. I’ve had similar experiences. The two years I spent in high school working as a grocery store cashier were striking; certainly my co-workers were interesting (I recall a man well into his 20’s teasing me about my tiny (part-time) paycheck; funny to think that now, I’m an attorney, while he’s probably still working there or something similar), but most of all about the food-stamp recipients. I was just 16, and didn’t have any preconceived notions about food stamp recipents; I didn’t expect the to be horribly rude to me and greedy, nor did I expect them to so frequently use their “excess money” to buy beer, cigarettes, or tabloid magazines, nor did I expect them to so frequently sport expensive hairdos and jewelry, and drive nicer cars than my family. It was a shock and an eye opener. I wrote more about it here: https://lyssalovelyredhead.wordpress.com/2009/12/04/ive-always-said-that-my-liberatarian-instincts-can-be-directly-traced-back-to-the-two-years-i-spent-as-grocery-store-cashier/

    I wish I had solutions, but I don’t know what they are. Education sounds great, but I don’t know how to make it happen. The current incentive system certainly is not working.

  3. I’m okay with lotteries. It’s the only tax many of the players pay, other than sales tax. Nine per cent tax sounds about right to me.

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