Friday, May 17, 2013

You Also Could Be A Lucky Loser - The Lotto System

You Also Could Be A Lucky Loser - The Lotto System

Every now and then I see the California Lotto ad and it makes me fucking cringe down to my very center.

That ad is just atrocious in every possible way. I mean, first off, they're polluting the hell out of California. Way to go. But it's not limited to dumping on just California. State Lotteries are popular all over the place and they're just straight up fucking the poor in every possible way. But what many people don't know about lotteries is that they prey on those who can least afford it. Most people never win anything big. And 11 states raise more money from lotteries than from corporate taxes. Beyond the moral, mental health and religious debates over gambling, lotteries are another example on how society preys on the poor and the working class in the worst possible way. How, you ask?

The Poor is the hardest hit by this predatory practice. Simply put, the lotteries take the most from those who can least afford it. Instead of taking those most able to pay, which is the principle of the federal income tax in the U.S., the state leaders use lotteries to disguise a regressive tax that falls on the middle and even more on the poor. A 2010 study showed that household with take home incomes of less than $13,000 spent an average of $645 a year on lottery tickets. Which is a solid 9% of their income. The reason people play varies a lot, but it mixes hopes and dreams with desperation. Poorer people see it as a slim chance to radically improve their standard of living. 

So it should come as no surprise that communities of color and less educated background spend the most on them. Numerous academic studies showed that non-whites spend much more on lotteries than whites, with one study putting the figure at around $998 for African Americans and $210 for whites. Households with income under $25,00 spend an average of about $600 a year while $100,000+ earning families spend around $300. People who never graduated from college spent the most at around $700 a year, while graduates spent under $200. 

They are the opposite in terms of trickle down effect economics. Mainly because they redistribute money up the economic ladder opposed to down it. Most people buy tickets and win very little or nothing. This taking more money from the poor, working and lower middle-classes than from those most able to pay those taxes. These billions are diverted away from local businesses, with the exception of the stores where tickets are sold. It's frankly the opposite of the kind of economic stimulus a depressed economy needs.

Even the tax rates on this gamble shows how it's a 'fuck the poor' compared to other investment tax rates. Just look at the hypocrisy surrounding state lotteries in how taxes are collected on it. Just compare the tax rates on this form of investment with tax rates on other types of investments, such as stocks. State lotteries impose a 38% tax rate on buying tickets. No taxes are paid when a person buys a stock or bond, a more preferred investment vehicle for wealthier households. Moreover, the current federal tax rate for earnings from short-term investments ranges from 10 to 35%.

The Hypocrisy behind the lotto compared to any sort of addictive vice; One of the rationales for criminalizing drugs is that the abuse of which leads to an addiction and potentially drags down the community in theft to feed the addiction and as a whole is a negative to society. But then you realize that state-sponsored gambling also feeds this very same addictive behavior. People who are addicted to gaming, including lotteries treat the lotto in the same fashion. Just spend some time in your local bodega and you'll see people come in jonsing for that lotto ticket or that scratcher card. Finger tips covered with silver shavings from where they couldn't bother to find that quarter to use on it. The whole thing is pretty much fucking the poor in every way possible.

And even if you do win, what happens next is the sickest joke. For you see,

Big winners more than often have their lives turned upside down and ruined. Say you win the lotto and you're suddenly feeling happy. Don't hold on to that feeling for too long so ignorantly, because of the most surprising things that comes with winning the lotto is how a fast infusion of money can completely destroy the shitty life you currently have. It disrupts friendships and destroys families and even invites violent crimes into your home. Con-men begin to target you and there's the situation of jealous family members showing their true color. Some winners end up spending all their winnings in no time at all. Others just use it to fuel more gambling binges.

It's a situation that most revenue strapped state legislatures may find that state lotteries are an easy way to bring in a few hundreds of millions that they need for basic government services such as schools, police, roads and social safety nets, but state lotteries have become an easy way to take from the least wealthy and avoid  the harder task of making everyone pay their fair share of things. It should by all means be considered an economic exploitation of the lower class.

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