Is the Lottery a Tax on Stubborn People?


In modern times, the lottery has become a popular form of gambling. It is also an important source of state revenue. However, the lottery is often criticized as a “tax on stupid people,” because it takes money from those who can least afford it. The defenders of the lottery argue that lottery players understand the odds of winning are very low, and enjoy playing the game anyway. But a closer look at the data suggests that these claims are a myth. Lottery spending varies according to economic fluctuations, and it is much higher in areas where unemployment and poverty rates are high. Furthermore, the rich play the lottery far less than poorer individuals. According to a study by Bankrate, those earning more than fifty thousand dollars per year spend about one percent of their income on tickets; those making less than thirty thousand dollars annually spend thirteen percent.

The lottery is an ancient pastime that can be traced back to the casting of lots for a variety of purposes, from determining God’s will to awarding property and slaves in colonial America. The first recorded public lotteries to distribute prize money — often in the form of goods or services rather than cash — took place in the 15th century. Various towns in the Low Countries arranged these events for everything from town repairs to raising funds to help the poor.

Early in the American experiment with lotteries, which proved enormously popular in both rural and urban settings, a few states prohibited them for religious reasons. But in the late nineteen-sixties, as state tax receipts plunged amid a population boom, rising inflation, and the costs of the Vietnam War, legislators began to introduce more legalized gambling options. These included casino-style games, keno, bingo, and the lottery.

While it is possible that some disadvantaged Americans use the lottery to make ends meet, most of these lottery players are white and wealthy. In fact, the largest jackpot ever won on a Powerball ticket, a quarter of a billion dollars, was split by three wealthy asset managers from Greenwich, Connecticut. The poor, by contrast, are overwhelmingly African-American and Latino, and they buy far more tickets, on average. They also win far fewer prizes, and the average jackpot is less than a million dollars.

The events in Shirley Jackson’s short story The Lottery reflect the evil nature of humans, even in small, seemingly peaceful places. Tessie Hutchinson realizes that the lottery is unfair and unjust, but she does not oppose it before it turns against her. In addition, this story shows that it is vital to question traditions and to protest against those that do not serve us. It is often difficult to do so, however, especially if a tradition has been around for a long time and is widely supported. However, in order to protect our freedom and our society, we must always be ready to fight for what is right. Moreover, we must never forget that violence is always wrong.

Is the Lottery a Tax on Stubborn People?
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