Congratulations! You May Already Be A Wiener!

Powerball Jackpot Winning Ticket Purchased In Florida

Here’s the truth: One person is going to win the Powerball Lottery. The other hundred million ticket purchasers (or however many there were) have already gotten screwed.

I make no secret of the fact that I despise lotteries. For so many reasons, but this main one: Government sponsored “games of chance” engineered to sucker hapless victims out of their money? Really? Really??

The lottery is one of those things – like smoking, or beating your wife, or slavery – that seems perfectly normal until you seriously start thinking about it and discover it’s actually immensely disgusting and immoral.

Millions of us DO think it’s perfectly normal. And not only that, but good. Hey, you could WIN. Millions! (Or in this case, six-tenths of a billion dollars.)

But … look at the real picture. For all those who don’t “win,” they have really and truly gone and put money into the thing and gotten nothing back. Week after week, nothing. They literally give away their money. Day after day, week after week, THEY GIVE AWAY THEIR MONEY.

It’s “give,” not “buy,” because a lottery ticket has no value.

Yes, yes, yes, I know some people get those little “wins.” But they’re not “wins” if they’re less than you’ve spent on the game to date. They are wholly temporary lend-backs of your own money, made in the confident certainty that you’re hooked and will come back to regift it to the game in the near future.

Face it, would you “play” the lottery if it was just a box with a hole in the top of it, and the deal was you could just walk past periodically and toss $5, $10 or more into the hole? Yet this is almost exactly what millions of people do. The weakest among us, those incapable or unwilling to analyze what’s really being done to them, throw their money into a hole.

But because a myth is built up around this “game,” the myth of “You could win millions of dollars,” and because so many of us are suckers for a myth, especially one that tells us we will almost certainly win fantastic wealth (or immortality, or paradise), it works. We can be manipulated into GIVING AWAY billions of dollars of real money, money that could be spent on our own needs, or on real charity, or hell, on building a city on the moon.

I know what an idiot I am. But it’s when I see what idiots other people can be, millions and millions of us, that I really start to get disturbed. If the world is crazy enough to accept something like the Lottery, because “Hey, it doesn’t matter, it’s only a few dollars a week,” because “I only buy a ticket when the jackpot is really big,” I really do despair of anything good coming of us.

  • Bridget Gaudette

    I won!

  • Cathy W

    In Michigan, when there was a push to build a new casino or two a few years ago, the state commissioned a study of compulsive gamblers, to find out what they played. The #1, top, head and shoulders above the crowd, way that compulsive gamblers got their “fix” was through state lottery games. “Oh, well, then, build the casinos…” No discussion at all about making the lottery harder to abuse…

    Even the idea that the lottery profits go to the schools doesn’t make it much better – it works out to a regressive tax. I guess they could make it a little better by distributing the lottery money proportionally by where the tickets were bought… or if the money were used to fund statistics classes…

    • Hank Fox

      My teacher-friend in California told me that teachers ended up hating
      the lottery. The money is earmarked for certain things only, which
      meant that when the legislature (inevitably) cut existing education
      budgets, things were even more pinched in some ways.

      Add in the
      fact that lottery income varies, and the fact that education now serves
      as a pimp for the lottery, and it’s an ugly, ugly picture for students
      and teachers both.

  • Karen

    Even my husband, an engineer and all-around smart guy, will play it when the “pot odds” are good. I scratch my head and want to scream.