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Feb 5, 2012

Hating Lottery Winners

Max:  Big companies are making obscene profits. Those lucky bastards should be paying their windfall profits back into the government, to help me.
Fred:  Yeah, and let's get back more money from those lucky bastard lottery winners, and from top athletes and movie stars, and popular writers, and super models.

Max:  Uh, I don't think you see the point.
Fred:  I thought the point was that no one should be lucky.

Why should businessmen be disliked and pay high taxes because their success is partly luck, while all-luck lottery winners are generally accepted as deserving their winnings?

Lotteries are a bad bet

Lotteries return only 60% of what is bet, and only 18-30% in the big prizes. Many people with a social conscience hate lotteries because they are designed to take money from people without much money, and states promote this scam on the people.

The following explains nicely the odds against winning anything and gives the social argument.

I hate the lottery  -  10/10/2010  -  Graham Templeton

[edited excerpts]  What kind of government runs a crooked game on its citizens? Well, it appears that is the Government of Canada.

The odds of hitting the jackpot on the Lotto 6/49 are about 1 in 64 million. Some unkind fellows have referred to this as a “stupidity tax,” arguing that if the players are dumb enough to take such a fool’s bet, they deserve the resultant siphoning off of their finances.

In some circumstances, I would be okay with that. Freedom costs money sometimes. But, rugged individualists refer to the right of a citizen to run a successful business. That argument does not apply to the government, which should not play on the mathematical illiteracy of its population.

This government runs massive ad campaigns to convince you to throw your money away on the lottery. But it won’t let you start a casino because gambling is bad for the community. Lottery rackets have been highly illegal, and they still are, unless you’re the government.

The government restricts our freedom, moralizing at us, and empowering itself to make our financial decisions for us. But, it plays commercials for its own brand of cocaine, while telling us to Just Say No to other brands.

Lottery winners are OK

Many people don't like the lottery because it doesn't pay enough or because the winnings are taxed. Almost no one hates lottery winners. I Googled "hate lottery winners" and found just one post hating a particular winner.

I hate lotto winners  - 07/06/10  -  Bun Boy Eats LA

[edited]  This woman with a stupid name just won a multi-million dollar lottery. For the 4th time with a friggin’ scratch ticket!!!

That’s just not right. I don’t believe in the lottery, I think it’s obnoxious. I think it’s worse than Miley Cyrus’s gummy smile. I don’t believe in getting ones’ hopes up that high. No one with teeth and a desire to own outside of a trailer park ever wins.

Yes, I’m jealous. Jealous that Joan Stupidface will get to add a wing to her tacky, faux finish Vegas crack den and procure a few dozen more mangy cats to poop in all the corners.

This is why I LOVE to watch programs such as “Curse of the Lottery!”

The complaint is that few lottery winners are admirable. Even so, there is no sentiment to take away most of their winnings through special taxes. The feeling is "they took their chances and won". Canada doesn't tax lottery winnings. That shows public support for the winners to keep all of their lucky gains.

Businessmen are Not OK

Businessmen (or women) play a type of productive lottery. They use their own money (and money from voluntary investors) to produce goods and services which people want to buy. This involves much planning, skill, and persistence, with a component of luck.

Some people seem to live in a sunbeam, creating a profitable business despite character flaws. Some people fail despite the best planning. Most businesses achieve a middle success, and some find super success, making millions and even billions.

The odd part is that successful businessmen are often disliked, especially for their success. A common sentiment is that they should pay more and more taxes because they were partly lucky, and so should give back most of their gains to the rest of us.

This sentiment is common even though these businesses add to the well being of customers and workers. A lottery only moves money from some people to others, giving the state a big cut along the way. A business creates well-being at the expense of no one, actually helping people, and paying taxes along the way.

If successful people and businesses are disliked and are supposed to pay for the rest of us, then why aren't lottery winners even more disliked? There is some luck in business, but the lottery is all luck. If we dislike businessmen who are somewhat lucky in the course of delivering goods and services, then why don't we despise lottery winners, who have done nothing more than pay for a ticket?

There is nothing to dislike about businessmen or lottery winners. They each put their resources toward a strategy for success. Many of both lose their investment. Of the two, the businessmen and investors should be admired for creating good things along the way. We shouldn't be grabbing at their winnings.

1 comment :

James T. said...

In the US, state lotteries use a significant portion of their winnings to fund state programs like schools.
Is it a stupidity tax? Maybe. But at least something productive (that IS socially responsible, by the way) comes of it. Do people with gambling addictions spend way, way too much on the lottery? YES, but so do "investors" with gambling addictions, the ones who short shares and buy into derivatives, or other "risky" investments.
The only difference appears to be:
Lottery winners in the US are taxed usually over 50% on their winnings, while "investors" are taxed closer to 15%.
Why would you hate a lottery winner?

Reply to: "Lotteries return only 60% of what is bet, and only 18-30% in the big prizes. Many people with a social conscience hate lotteries because they are designed to take money from people without much money, and states promote this scam on the people."

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