In her essay, “Against the Odds, and Against the Common Good,” Gloria Jimenez evaluates the debate for state-run lotteries and surmises that state representatives, having citizens’ welfare in mind, should not pass bills urging them to gamble. In today’s society, state-run lotteries are common establishments considering the majority of our country has one. Thirty-nine states and the District of Columbia all have lotteries justified as necessary state funds beneficial to the common good. But with state lotteries no one wins—not schools, not the government and not the American public. (1) The lottery system does not contribute notable funds to the state or schools (2) it is a regressive form of taxation (3) it creates limited jobs (4) it is harmful to American values and society (5)but they claim to be fair and honest. Overall, lotteries are neither practical nor fair, and they are harmful to the common good. First, let me point out that lotteries do not achieve their first goal of contributing notable funds to the state or schools. The most valid defense for lotteries is that they will increase
Educational funding, when, in fact, contributes very little. In her research, Jimenez briefly explains her findings and deducts “the lotteries have been paying out roughly 4 percent to the businesses while taking in almost $20 billion in 2002.” (New York Times, May 18, 2003, sec. 4, p. 1). If states raised income tax by a fraction of a percent, they could generate just as much revenue as state lotteries. That is how insignificant they are. As well as being an ineffective money raising scheme, the lottery is also a regressive form of taxation. The attraction of the lottery is to strike it rich instantaneously and never have to work again.
The message is most evident to the poor, undereducated, and compulsive gamblers. As a result, these citizens participate in the lottery spending an average of three times as much of their income on lottery tickets than the wealthy would. This is, in effect, due to false and misleading advertising aimed specifically at this market. Furthermore, the only new jobs that are created unless, by chance a new casino goes in, are the vacancies for advertising executives and accounting clerks. The positions for clerks that actually sell the tickets do not need filling because they are previously filled at convenience and grocery stores.
In addition, state run lotteries are unwholesome and dangerous for the common good. They send out a message that opposes the ethics of hard work, sacrifice, and integrity—everything Americans believe in. The lottery is deceptive and encourages people to believe that they will win something for nothing. Still, government allows lotteries and actually promotes them, encouraging citizens to participate.
One of the greatest problems associated with the lottery is that it can lead to addiction. So although people are buying the tickets of their own free will and free will to participate is one of the pro’s of the lottery. Exactly how much free will really is there when all of the manipulation is being done by the ad executives targeting prime citizens, the government strong-arming the constituents into their lottery schemes, and the gambling addicts cannot really help themselves? Government has no business enticing people to gamble their hard earned money for an against the odds chance of winning a big cash prize. It is irresponsible, immoral and far from fair and honest.
Jimenez, Gloria. “Against the Odds, and Against the Common Good.” Pg. 112-114. Critical Thinking, Reading, and Writing. Barnett & Bedau. New York. Bedford/St. Martin.2008. Print