Monday, February 02, 2009

Nation in Debt? Time For A Little Bit Of Luck

Lil' Bit O' 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…

Hold on…

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.

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[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.]

2 comments:

Ooobama...Ooooo shit said...

You seem to forget that around 90% of the money that goes into a state lottery, gets paid back out to the people in small prizes, larger prizes, and jackpots. Another 5% of the money that goes into lottery from people purchasing tickets obviously goes to the "operator", say...Scientific Games for operating the machines that print out the tickets. So..you're left with a whopping 5% of that trillion dollar number you threw out there. In reality...not that much to pay off the huge debt Obama is going to create by giving out government handouts to people on welfare who don't feel like working and the debt already created by these bailouts to companies who do need it, or, would you rather see them go out of business and half the country out of jobs....maybe that is what some people want..more unemployment, YES that's it!

Adam said...

Those numbers you cite are interesting. 90% you say? No lottery in the world pays out 90% of what it receives. That would completely defeat the purpose of a lottery, which is to RAISE MONEY. Your 90% figure is so outrageously false that it's almost not even worth spending my time responding to your comment.

Your viewpoint seems in line with my blogging colleague, Robbie Republican. Perhaps you'll agree with his columns.

I find it hilarious that Obama has been on the job for less than a month... and somehow, in your eyes, the current economy and unemployment is somehow his fault??? Wake up. The Republicans had 8 years to prove that welfare and handouts are bad for the economy... instead, they've only proved that tax breaks for the wealthy and free-reign for big corporations are a recipe for disaster.

Stop listening to Limbaugh and actually take a look at the real world that 8 years of Republicans have created. War, Debt, Poverty, Greed, Corruption.

Enjoy coming up with more fake numbers. Living in a fantasy world appears to be the way Republicans are coping with their failures these days.

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