Nation in Debt? Time For A Little Bit Of Luck
The national debt is approaching 11 trillion dollars, and with all the money Congress is giving out during this economic crisis to just about any rich guy who asks for it, that figure is bound to skyrocket. With our government’s finances in worse shape than Jessica Simpson, how can we find the money to improve our nation’s crumbling infrastructure and fund the programs that are vital to a healthy, non-George-Bushy America? One solution is surprisingly simple.
It’s time to get lucky.
To be more specific, it’s time the United States joins the UK, Mexico, South Africa and a slew of other countries in creating a National Lottery.
Currently, forty-two states bring in millions upon millions each year by taking advantage of one of humanity’s oldest vices, gambling. That money is typically earmarked for education and other important state initiatives. A National Lottery could be used to shore up an ailing social security program, fix our country’s crumbling electrical lines, roads and water mains, or bribe Sarah Palin to simply disappear.
The United States first experimented with a National Lottery back in 1776, when the Continental Congress approved the sale of one million $10 to $40 tickets in order to raise money for the American Revolution. Unfortunately, at that time, the only people who could afford tickets at those prices were the wealthy… who were more likely to be Tories, British supporters. Not surprisingly, the lottery idea was scrapped.
The main problem these days would be political in nature. First, the religious right likes gambling as much as they like a cross made out of cocks. Second, states with existing lotteries may feel threatened. And third, in order to establish a National Lottery, funds must be established to create a federal bureau that would administer the game. None of these challenges is insurmountable, however.
Presumably, promises that the lotto funds would go partially to charitable institutions could placate large portions of the religious right (for instance, the UK lotto has provided 20 billion pounds to “good causes” since 1994). Prices on tickets could be set higher than those offered by state lottos, aiming at a different demographic of ticket buyers. And since we’re already providing private jets and lavish vacations for failed CEOs, what’s a few more bucks to create the Bureau of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?
And there’s evidence that in these tough times, people are buying lottery tickets more than ever. According to Scientific Games, maker of scratch-off tickets, revenue is up for scratch-off and daily tickets in 25 states with lotteries
Now, I’m not good with math, but I’ll attempt to give you a rough idea of the money we’re talking here. According to a study of Texas lotto players conducted by the University of Houston's Center for Public Policy, 36% of Texans bought at least one lottery ticket last year. Extrapolate that 36% figure across the country, and that’s 109,376,871 people buying lotto tickets.
Charge those guys $10 a ticket…and, uh…
You got more than a trillion dollars. $1,093,768,710 to be exact. You think the U.S. can’t use that money? Couldn’t you? Maybe you’d be the lucky sucker who becomes the first government-made millionaire. Maybe the country’s debt won’t be the only one eased by this.
Hey, you never know.
[You can read this and other fascinating random combinations of words and letters at Slow Century Magazine, a place where I will hopefully contribute to more often in the future.]