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The Pathetic Victims of the Powerball Lottery

Written by Gary North on November 28, 2012

Now that Powerball is at $500 million, there is a frenzy to buy tickets. There was not when it was $250 million.

Question: What could anyone do with $500 million before taxes that he could not do with $250 million before taxes? The person with so little knowledge of statistics that he buys a lottery ticket cannot answer this logically.

There are manias that affect lots of people under certain conditions. It reveals a pathetic weakness. The mania of crowds never turns out well for the vast majority of those afflicted by it.

Powerball is a multi-jurisdiction nonprofit lottery run for the benefit of 33 political jurisdictions.

Any government that uses a lottery to gain revenue is morally perverse. It appeals to the hopes of ignorant people, usually poor people. Bookies do this, too, but no one respects a bookie. The politicians come in the name of a higher morality and higher goals. “Line up, dummies. We’re here to help you.”

My view: trust a bookie before you trust a politician. The odds are better. Also, he is more likely to pay off if he loses the bet.

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27 thoughts on “The Pathetic Victims of the Powerball Lottery

  1. I bought one. One. Only one. $2.00 for a little entertainment. Sure, it's a statistical improbability. I rarely play any of these lottery games. Buying something such as $1.00 face value of junk silver is a better idea, as one example. However, there isn't much fantasy entertainment value with junk silver. I'll have my fun once in a while, dreams can be fun.

  2. CaveatMTor says:

    Definition of state lottery: A tax on the statistically illiterate.

  3. I just wonder how many people will wake up on Thursday morning wishing that they still had the money that they spent on Powerball tickets in order to buy a hot meal. At least, tlhey paid their taxes to the state. Taxes are normally bills that people hate to pay. The lottery tax is different. People love to pay this tax, therefore, politicians love it too. Politicians always love what the taxpayer loves to pay, especially when it provides them with more easy, unrestricted money to spend.

  4. Shhhh! Not so loud, this is how we tax the poor and the ignorant.

  5. Statistics indicate that obsessive gamblers do not play the lottery. Poor people do, but that is their right… and then they can go ask Nanny Obamao for more. So, what's the downside? (sarc off)

    If I can just find that $2 in my pocket I can retire in luxury. ;)>

  6. I don't know….if you would have asked anyone just a few short years ago how statistically possible it would be for a drug taking, communistic, black man, with no credentials at all, no birth certificate, shrouded in secrecy, an obvious liar, with no agenda for America other than to bankrupt it, could be elected president of the United States; not once but twice, what do you think the statisticians would have said?

    "Less than winning a government run lottery?"

  7. The lottery is such a scam and everyone knows it but most people are still willing to take the chance at possibly being the big winner. The odds are so horrendous but that doesn't stop anyone from playing. Im sure most people would agree that they would rather see smaller jackpots with better odds of winning and actually have a chance at making life alittle easier for themselves by paying off some of their bills, car, or maybe even their house. Wow wouldn't this be an excellent way to stimulate the economy.

  8. barb patton says:

    Since the American Dollar has absolutely no actual value anymore, to spend $2 on a dream and a hope is a small price to pay.. You cannot even buy a packet of cigarettes for 2 bucks or for that matter a 6 pack which of course is more detrimental to your health. What have WE THE PEOPLE got to hold onto and look forward to with the ayatollah barack in power?? He is hell bent and determined to bleed us for every penny we have worked and saved many years for… so let us dream let us hope and let it be that someone who wins will be able to survive in this debt ridden country.

  9. I'd buy one, except I don't want to have to survive the 3 lighting strikes I'd statistically have to endure before I won.

    Seriously, though, it is sinful to gamble, which includes lottery tickets. It's a violation of the 10th commandment, and it also implicitly says that one is not content with the circumstances that God has providentially provided for one in His divine sovereignty.

  10. Statistically improbable, yes. Impossible? No. Someone somewhere always wins! What would be truly interesting is an audit on the lotto departments run by the states.

  11. seems to me says:

    I thought I heard that the jackpot increased because nobody won it at the previous level.,….hmmmm….I see, now. Nobody wins, they just keep increasing the amount that nobody wins until they get to the amount that you feel you would be crazy not to throw away a couple of bucks for.
    IMHO if you have money to throw away on lottery tickets you prove you have more money than you know what to do with already.

  12. forrest walters says:

    I would spend the money on research into radical extension of lifespan, reversal of aging, and until those arrive, true suspended animation for humans.

  13. Yes it would be@ Tom. We just hope we could win some of the smaller prizes, we have no expectations of winning the "Big" prize. Of course there again the odds are not in our favor on these big Jackpots.

  14. I would of course think it was a miracle if I won any jackpot according to the odds. But I sometimes lose a dollar or two on the lottery. Now people that can afford to buy 50 tickets is beyond my scope of justifying such a thing. But I guess we will always have lotteries hoping to change our luck. Its like taxes, there is only one winner there and thats the government. And we are forced to play their game. At least so far we have a choice in the lottery.

  15. Texas Chris says:

    Playing power-ball is just giving God the opportunity to bless you. Odds? I don't believe in odds…

  16. Texas Chris says:

    I'm not saying to bet the rent money, but it's a whopping $2. Or $3 if you're feeling frisky.

  17. Texas Chris says:

    If you'll be missing that $2 on Thursday, then you shouldn't have been playing the lotto.

  18. Texas Chris says:

    Good point.

    Besides, it's a whopping $2.

  19. Texas Chris says:

    "they would rather see smaller jackpots with better odds of winning"

    You'd think so. But you'd be wrong. The lower-paying, non-scratch-off lottos tend to go bankrupt.

  20. Texas Chris says:

    I disagree. Buying a $2 lottery ticket is opening yourself up to God's blessing. The devil's had that money long enough. Let yourself be blessed, and spread that blessing in return.

    10th Commandment? Do not covet? That's a stretch…

  21. Texas Chris says:

    Exactly. If we will spend $2 on an energy drink, then why not $2 that could, statistically, make us wealthy?

  22. Texas Chris says:

    What's a dollar worth? For me it's about 2 minutes at work.

    Would you spend 2 minutes working for the 1 in 1,000,000,000 chance at $500 million? Right now you spend about 5.5 months of your life to pay taxes, and for what?

    Seriously, relax a little. It's $2.

  23. Funny, even the US tax code acknowledges the right of some Americans — in this case bookies — to not be compelled to be a witness against themselves. When bookies report their earnings, the return they use specifically states that none of the information they supply can be used against them, since book-making is illegal in some states. But for the rest of the suckers: "Ve vill compel you (through pain compliance) to file a return, and if ve feel like it, use it against you in a criminal prosecution, schweinhund!"

  24. Chris: A stretch? To covet is to want something you do not have. Do you have $500,000,000 or the things that much money would buy you? It saddens me that Christians today have such a narrow view of what the 10 commandments say, much like the Jewish leaders did when Jesus came. Our pastor preached 4 sermons on covetousness in January. I strongly suggest you listen to them to learn a bit more about the scope of that particular sin. You can find them here: http://www.sermonaudio.com/search.asp?currpage=2&…

    Do you really think being rich is a blessing for most? Do you think if God wants us to be rich he needs us to buy a lottery ticket to do so? Do you think he wants us to get rich in a way that is at the expense of others? I have personally witnessed mothers on welfare with shoeless children in tow spend half their welfare cheque on lottery tickets. As Gary said, lotteries are wicked, and Christians should have no part in them.

  25. DaveNTejas says:

    If you are spending "meal" money on a lottery ticket, you are a true moron.

  26. The only problem is that I KNOW some one who won the lotto in my state and looks to me that she is doing real good with her winnings. No one is twisting any ones arm to buy a ticket. Shouldnt you be more upset that our government has mandated we pay with our tax dollars to pay for condoms and abortions for people with no self control.

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