Tag Archives: Lottery

The lottery is a voluntarily tax on the poorest people

You need to study math so that you don't end up doing this your whole life
You need to study math so that you don’t end up doing this your whole life

Here is a good article on basic economics by Arthur C. Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute (a free market think tank).

He writes in the Wall Street Journal:

Powerball—the lottery shared by 44 states, the District of Columbia and two territories—is just one of the sweepstakes run by 47 jurisdictions in the U.S. These games produce nearly $70 billion a year in government revenue and enjoy profits of about 33%—much higher than margins in the private gambling industry.

Who are these lotteries’ most loyal customers? Poor people. Lots of folks buy the occasional ticket, but studies have long shown a steady association between poverty and lottery play. Many scholars report that the poorest third of Americans buy more than half of all lotto tickets, which is why states advertise so aggressively in poor neighborhoods.

Harmless entertainment, you may say, but poor people don’t see it that way. They tend to view lottery tickets as an investment. Duke University social scientists Charles Clotfelter and Philip Cook reported in a 1990 study that people earning less than $30,000 a year are 25% more likely to say they play the lottery for the money rather than the entertainment.

[…]Even if someone feels compelled to throw a financial “Hail Mary,” the lottery is a terrible choice. The odds of winning last week’s jackpot were about 1 in 292 million. And the average return from $1 spent on lottery tickets is 52 cents, according to a 2002 paper by Melissa Kearney, an economist now at the University of Maryland.

But this isn’t easy to see for those with low levels of education. My own analysis of survey data from the National Gambling Impact Study Commission suggests that someone who didn’t attend college may think the return on lottery tickets is 40% higher than the estimate given by a person of similar demographics who holds a degree.

If you took a poll of how people who bought lottery tickets voted, I’m certain that you would find that 90% of them are Democrats. This is because Democrats are economically illiterate, judging for their support for minimum wage increases and opposition to free trade. I suppose there would be a fair number of Donald Trump supporters in there, too. People can can do math don’t buy lottery tickets. It’s much better to pay off debt and then start saving for your retirement. Although public schools used to teach math and basic economics, now they are so busy teaching young people to hate their parents, their God and their country that there is no time for teaching math and basic economics. Even if the public school teachers knew math and basic economics, which they probably don’t, judging by how members of teacher unions vote.

Apparently, people on the political left now oppose teaching math, because it’s racist or sexist or something.

The Daily Caller explains:

Is math sexist? One Vanderbilt University professor believes that it is.

Writing in an academic journal last month, the professor complained about the masculinization of math and how it causes the oppression of women.

Describing mathematics as a “white and heteronormatively masculinized space,” professor Luis A. Leyva insists that factors including teacher expectations and cultural norms “serve as gendering mechanisms that give rise to sex-based achievement differences,” per Campus Reform.

[…]In the article titled “Unpacking the Male Superiority Myth and Masculinization of Mathematics at the Intersection,” Leyva says that teachers “contribute to the masculinization of the  domain that unfairly holds students to men’s higher levels of achievement and participation as a measure of success.”

In other words, being held to a high standard keeps women down.

Do you ever wonder why Democrats want to halt all education reform? Well, people who can’t do math tend to be awful at earning and saving money. And do you know what happens to people who are terrible at earning and saving money? They become dependent on welfare and they vote for bigger government, i.e. – Democrats.

The Pew Research Center, a liberal organization, actually did a study on this uninformed voter problem.

Excerpt:

So Republicans are more knowledgeable than Democrats, contrary to what many would like to believe.

According to whom?  None other than the Pew Research Center, a left-of-center organization.  Moreover, Pew’s latest survey only reaffirms previous surveys demonstrating the same result.

In fact, the results weren’t even close.

In a scientific survey of 1,168 adults conducted during September and October of last year, respondents were asked not only multiple-choice questions, but also queries using maps, photographs and symbols.  Among other subjects, participants identified international leaders, cabinet members, Supreme Court justices, nations on a world map, the current unemployment and poverty rates and war casualty totals.

In a 2010 Pew survey, Republicans outperformed Democrats on 10 of 12 questions, with one tie and Democrats outperforming Republicans on just 1 of the 12.  In the latest survey, however, Republicans outperformed Democrats on every single one of 19 questions.

[…]Those Pew results are confirmed by some surprising other sources.  According to a New York Times headline dated April 14, 2010, “Poll Finds Tea Party Backers Wealthier and More Educated.”  Shattering widespread myths, that survey revealed that Tea Party supporters were more likely to possess a college degree than their counterparts (23% to 15%), and also more likely to have completed post-graduate studies (14% to 10%).  Tea Partiers were also more likely to have completed “some college” by a 33% to 28% margin, and substantially less likely to have not completed high school than non-supporters (3% versus 12%), or to possess only a high school degree (26% versus 35%).

I hope no readers of this blog drop math before they go to college or trade school, and you all better be studying something that pays if you do go to college. I don’t want to catch any of you buying lottery tickets as your retirement plan. I want to encourage you all to make a long-term plan for your retirement, and make sure that the pieces in the short-term fit with that long-term plan.

Low-income households spend 9% of their money on lotteries and gambling

J Warner Wallace of Please Convince Me tweeted this story from the Atlantic.

Excerpt:

The Mega Millions jackpot makes this the week to talk about lottery economics, so here’s a whopper: Households earning less than $13,000 a year spend a shocking 9% of their money on lottery tickets, Henry Blodget relays from a PBS report.* Are they clueless? Are they desperate? Are they economical? Maybe, probably, and possibly.

For the desperately poor, lotteries perform a role not unlike the obverse of insurance. Rather than pay a small sum of money in exchange for the guarantee of protection that you’ll need in the future, you pay a small sum of money in exchange for the small probability that you’ll win money to help your lot right away. It is, for lack of a better term, a kind of aspirational insurance.

So often, everyone acts as if low-income people are necessarily more virtuous than other for earn more, such that we should automatically redistribute wealth from frugal people to wasteful people. Instead of redistributing wealth, though, maybe we should be redistributing character and wisdom and restraint. Maybe the reason that the poor are poor is because although they have every advantage living in the prosperous west, that they just make poor decisions.

Black economist Walter Williams explains:

Avoiding long-term poverty is not rocket science. First, graduate from high school. Second, get married before you have children, and stay married. Third, work at any kind of job, even one that starts out paying the minimum wage. And, finally, avoid engaging in criminal behavior. If you graduate from high school today with a B or C average, in most places in our country there’s a low-cost or financially assisted post-high-school education program available to increase your skills.

Most jobs start with wages higher than the minimum wage, which is currently $5.15. A man and his wife, even earning the minimum wage, would earn $21,000 annually. According to the Bureau of Census, in 2003, the poverty threshold for one person was $9,393, for a two-person household it was $12,015, and for a family of four it was $18,810. Taking a minimum-wage job is no great shakes, but it produces an income higher than the Bureau of Census’ poverty threshold. Plus, having a job in the first place increases one’s prospects for a better job.

In fact, the number one cause of poverty is the decision by individual people not to marry before having children. That’s not caused by “corporate greed” or other bogeymen. It’s an uncoerced decisiojn that each person makes. If anyone is causing poverty, it’s the anti-marriage left which subsidizes and glamorizes single motherhood by choice and divorce.

Instead of making poverty more comfortable so that the poor can continue to make bad decisions, maybe we should be encouraging them to do the things that will life them out of poverty. Let’s pay the poor to finish school, get married, stay married, get a job, and wait before having children. And let’s support them by giving them school choice and other freedoms that allow them to escape the underperforming public schools. Fixing poverty doesn’t just mean handing people money – there are deeper issues.

What I also like about this story is that it was tweeted by a Christian apologist. Arguing about philosophy and science and history is good, but if we aren’t concerned about issues like abortion, marriage, poverty and freedom, then that’s not a good sign. Wallace should be commended for his concern for the poor.