Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Lottery

While I suppose it's a good thing that the private numbers racket has been legalized by state lotteries (aka the public numbers racket), I am troubled by what I see here in California:  the aggressive advertising encouraging the purchase of lottery tickets.  I see the ads on the sides of buses and in the BART train stations, as well as on billboards, with such come-ons as "Luck will find you" (illustrated with an alluring looking woman) and "Fortune awaits".  The sheer number of the ads suggests a huge outlay of advertising dollars.

Ambrose Bierce described the lottery as a tax on people who are bad at math, for the odds of winning are staggeringly high.  The most likely purchasers of lottery tickets are those with the lowest incomes, which, given the infinitesimally small chance of winning, means a waste of their limited resources. If they choose to buy lottery tickets, it's certainly their right.  I just don't think the poor should be encouraged to  throw away their money by an expensive advertising campaign.

Update  11/10/2014
John Oliver thinks so too.

No comments:

Post a Comment