The title might seem that we all should draw straws to see who can retire and who cannot, but instead it addresses the allure of lotteries in general. Most everyone has a story about a friend, distant relative, or some other acquaintance who won a large amount of money in the lottery. Somehow the lottery institution has become the respectable casino. Many of the original forms of lotteries had good intentions; the psychological thrill of possibly winning vast amounts of money attracted small investors to place limited bets in order to fund a greater cause.
The sad truth is now this lottery institution serves as a regressive and very lucrative tax. The Economist just ran a special report Come, all ye gullible: Lotteries are a bad bet, but everybody loves them. Among their enlightening takeaways:
“A study carried out in 2009 by Theos, a British think-tank, found that poor Britons spent a greater part of their income on lottery tickets, particularly scratch cards, than rich ones.”
But it does not stop for Britons:
“ In South Carolina, households with incomes of less than $40,000 a year account for 28% of the state’s population but more than half of its frequent lottery players. More than one American in five thinks that buying lottery tickets constitutes a sound retirement plan, according to a Tax Foundation study. And research carried out by the Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis in seven American states found that much of the money spent on lottery tickets came from some form of government assistance (such as social security, unemployment or disability benefit).”
I am glad that my tax dollars are being spent wisely.