May 242010

One of our gubernatorial candidates, Ron Sparks, is making racket about starting an “education lottery” in Alabama.

We’ve had debates and votes on a state lottery before.  There are cases for each side.  The stereotypical narrative is that fire-and-brimstone preachers get little old ladies fired up about voting no.  Then, busloads of them descend upon the polls in the name of the Lord, and that’s how poor, stupid, religious, backward Alabama shoots its own foot off, time after time.

But hey, guess what?  This lifelong Alabamian opposes a state-run lottery as well, and not because God tells me to.

One reason is that for some small but significant percentage of the population, gambling is a real problem.  Now that doesn’t mean I don’t think it should happen, but I think the “who” is important.  Isn’t there something more than a little sticky about a government raising revenue with an activity it knows will harm some percentage of its citizens?  Hey, let’s just make our lottery tickets scratch-off beer bottle caps while we’re at it, OK?

The more important reason is the same old reason:  it’s more government growth.  We might as well save time and set fire to some large percentage of the money before it ever gets there.  Oh, there’ll be promises, and maybe even legislation to “protect” the money.  Who believes that?  (If you’re out of college and your hand’s up, you should be ashamed of yourself.)

Consistently, demonstrably good stewards of the people’s money might capture my sustained attention when they ask for more.  Somehow I don’t think that day is near.

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 Posted by at 1:02 pm

  6 Responses to “Opposing an Alabama lottery, and not because God tells me to”

  1. I voted against the last lottery referendum, because the legislation controlling the funds was in a different bill. There was no permanent connection between the lottery and education. Even if there were, I look at Louisiana’s so-called education funds. The gov’t simply reduced taxpayer funding for education. Those schools have not improved over the last 2 decades.

    I am also against lotteries to support college tuition, because that only increases grade inflation coming out of high-school. Maybe I’d support it as revenue for interest-free college loans, but not outright gifts.

  2. We’ve had an ‘Education Lottery’ in SC for about 8 years and I have yet to purchase a ticket. I’ve always found it ironic that the population of people least likely to take advantage of education are helping finance it. Parents of our poorest students are the ones playing and thus cannot afford to feed their own kids.

    And… it turns the phrase ‘convenience store’ into an oxymoron. Can’t tell you how often I’ve stopped for a Diet Coke and had to wait for 5 minutes for the clerk to check a stack of tickets for some chump. A couple of times I’ve set the drink on the counter and walked out.

  3. Lotteries are taxes on people who are really bad at math. What kills me is it is invariably a state Democrat in Alabama who is pushing for them. Isn’t this supposed to be the big tent party that protects the underclass from the rich, evil, white man?

    I’ve got no real problems with a state lottery, but that’s because I have no fiscal problems with lotteries. Five bucks and a laugh in Orange Beach is easy for me. Probably not so funny if it means you don’t get to eat that week.


  4. Lotteries are NOT taxes. They are strictly voluntary. And they operate on the simple premise that a fool and his money are soon parted.

    Have I ever bought a lottery ticket? Yes, but only because it gave us hours of fun while driving and discussing how we would spend it, not because I actually thought I might win.

  5. BB_FAN, my point is that, whether they are taxes or not, lottery proceeds quickly become a large pool of the people’s money under government control, and that’s legitimately my business, just as it is yours.

  6. “Education” lotteries are worthless. Period. The Va. Lottery will tell you how many “meeelllions and meeelllions” of dollars they’ve given to public schools. The schools? Raise their eyebrows and wonder what the @#$% you’re talking about. The $$ never quite trickle down….

    (And, I might add, said public school systems then go on to operate millions of dollars under budget. Yeah. Great idea all the way around. I’d rather pay tuition than buy a scratcher. At least I know what the end result will be.)

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