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Author: Patzer Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 308881  
Subject: Re: Poll: lottery winners Date: 5/3/2002 5:49 PM
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Well, we really shouldn't be so judgemental about people that decide to play the Lottery. Now, if they "really" think they are going to win then that is silly. But, we shouldn't imply that we are X richer b/c we do X and not Y. You probably do C and they do D that saves them money in other ways.

I am sorry that my attempt at humor didn't come across as humorous. The phrase, "win the lucky sperm lottery" is more typically applied to mean inheriting significant wealth. I guess the parody on this theme with a good early financial education as the benefit wasn't obvious enough.

I don't feel that I'm superior to the people who play the lottery. I may be better educated than some of them, better able to deal with statistics than others, and less interested in lottery as entertainment than still others. This makes me more fortunate ("luckier", if you will) than the first two groups, and perhaps less easily amused than the third group. It does not make me superior to any of them.

I can intellectually understand playing the lottery as entertainment. I don't find it at all entertaining, but I understand the idea that some people do. My boss, spending $5 every time the jackpot is over $50 million, regards it as entertainment. Many of the members of the office consortium I mentioned earlier regarded it as entertainment. Some of them may have been taking it seriously. (A scary thought, since most of them do some sort of financial analysis as part of their jobs!)

I don't think the people who put the most money into the lottery regard it as entertainment. I think the people who really support the existence of the lottery view it as their only chance of success or their best chance of success in life. That is a problem in public education and personal finances. It may not be as big a problem as misuse of credit cards, but it is a problem.

And you know what? The State of New York is in the business of actively promoting this personal financial problem. The New York Lottery is extensively marketed. I cannot have my radio on in the car on the way to or from work without hearing an ad for New York Lotto or whatever new game it is they are promoting. The common themes in these ads are good odds of winning, a chance of winning a lot, what would you do with the jackpot (usually emphasing large ticket luxury purchases), more chances to win, etc. The people in the ads who buy ticket always win, fancy that! In other words, the State of New York is actively encouraging its residents to expect to get something for nothing by playing the lottery. It is not being marketed as entertainment, it is being marketed as a way to get rich. (I do not know whether this is the same in other states, but I suspect that it is.)

I may feel sorry for the undereducated people who believe that the lottery is their only chance. I may be amused by the people who think it is better for 10 people to each have 10 chances at 10% of a jackpot than to each have 1 chance at the full jackpot. I may be indifferent to people who regard the lottery as entertainment. I am offended by the use of my tax dollars to promote financial mismanagement among the poor and uneducated.

In my radical political opinion, the actions of the State of New York in promoting the lottery are immoral and contrary to the public good. Even if I were attracted to the lottery as entertainment, I would decline to participate on the grounds that I should not support a public policy that I strongly disagree with. If you don't feel the same way and see playing the lottery as entertainment, I don't have a problem with that.

I have a philosophical and moral problem with lotteries. But my problem isn't really with the people who play them, it's with the governments that promote them. Re-reading my earlier post, perhaps I should have written something to make this clear.

And yes, I believe the only real way to win the lottery is not to play it. By this measure, I won the lottery.

Patzer
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