Feeling sorry for yourself?

Perhaps you shouldn’t; there is always somebody worse off than you – like this guy, who chose to skip the office mega-pool lottery purchase.  In hindsight, perhaps he should have bought that ticket:

A hapless state information-technology worker who usually joined his office lottery pool took a pass last week — only to learn that seven positive-thinking pals nailed a whopping $319 million Mega Millions jackpot, said a deli owner who knows the winners.
“The word is that when they were going around the office asking who wanted in on the pool, one guy said no, that he wasn’t feeling lucky,” said Jill Cook, who with husband Tom owns Cook’s Deli in Albany, where the winners are lunchtime regulars.
“They asked him twice. They said, ‘Are you sure?’ and he said yeah, he was going to pass this time. I feel horrible for him,” Jill said.
The number of players in the pool varied from week to week, she said, and the identity of the mystery loser — who could have won a $16 million after-tax share under the lottery’s lump-sum option — was as elusive as those of the big winners, who sources say worked in IT for the state Homes and Community Renewal agency.

Hmmm… 16 million dollars.  I would feel bad if I were that guy.  But still, he made the right choice.  He is no worse off than he was before and the damage is purely psychological.  He had no way of knowing what was going to happen.  No matter how you package it, state lotteries are a form of voluntary taxation.  The odds of winning the jackpot are vanishingly small.
A lot of people condemn state lotteries for their disproportionate impact upon the poor.  By some accounts, poor Americans spend 9% of their income on lottery tickets.  Of course, the MSM cannot get the word “poor” out of its collective mouth without also saying a word like “black”, “Hispanic” or “minority”.  It must be some sort of speech impediment.  In any case, the Chicago Reporter says:

In the South Side’s 60619 ZIP code area, lottery players spent more than $23 million on lottery tickets in fiscal year 2002, more than any other ZIP code in the state, according to lottery sales records. The 60619 area includes parts of the predominantly black neighborhoods of Chatham, Avalon Park, Burnside and Calumet Heights…
“Lotteries are, in essence, a form of regressive taxation that distributes wealth and resources away from those who can least afford to pay,” said Paul Street, vice-president for research and planning at the Chicago Urban League. He said he was not surprised by the Reporter’s findings. “[Lotteries] especially extract wealth from communities of color, and most particularly from African Americans.”

It is sad when manual laborers spend so much of their money gambling.  But we might look at it philosophically and say that this is a “low-I.Q. tax”.  A way for the underclasses to repay some of the benefits higher I.Q. people are forced to provide them through taxes.  A large chunk of lottery money goes into preserving the environment (or so they say).  This is a cause that most tax-payers sympathize with.
There is also a benefit to the poor who buy the tickets.  They give themselves a shimmer of hope in their otherwise dreary lives.  Far be it from me to deny them that.

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5 Responses to Feeling sorry for yourself?

  1. countenance says:

    Lotteries are a tax on those who are ignorant in probability and statistics. On the other hand, they’re by far the best way for the average person to become rich. Two contradictory statements, but I believe them both at the same time.
    I spend no more than $2 a week on lottery tickets.

    • Statsaholic says:

      Perhaps it could be viewed as a form of entertainment for those too poor to afford most other forms of diversion.
      It really doesn’t do any more harm to the lottery player than if they set their money on fire.
      Possessions are fleeting, riches mere vanity.
      Most of the great philosophers agree on this point.
      The only problem with playing the lottery is that it’s driven in many cases by an irrational greed, which makes it much less noble than when the ancient mystics cast all their worldly goods into the ocean that they might avoid being distracted from the path of enlightenment.

  2. Kiwiguy says:

    *** a “low-I.Q. tax”. ***
    Heh, this gave me a chuckle.

  3. Half Sigma says:

    The government should be teaching poor people to improve their lot through hard work and delaying gratification rather then encouraging gambling (and it’s a form of gambling with worse odds than Las Vegas offers).

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