The Powerball Lottery, the Fiscal Cliff and More
Two brief thoughts on this fine morning (for the record I did not buy a Powerball ticket).
- Someone please explain to me what would happen to the probability of anyone playing the Powerball lottery if the top tax rate on income were raised to 90% or more (In some places I have seen proposals higher). Do you wish to argue that then that the rich will not respond to changes in tax rates?
- The fact that governments operate lotteries should have them stripped immediately of any claims to moral legitimacy. Lotteries are overwhelmingly played by the poor. So much for concern about regressive redistribution. The poor probably spend too much of their income playing the lottery especially when it is actuarily rigged against them. So much for the behavior insights hoping to “Nudge” people to make better decisions. It’s in fact more than a little creepy to have the Nudgers influencing elections while “letting” the poor waste their time and money on an exploitive system. Winnings end up making someone arbitrarily rich. So much for the insights of folks who lament the time when industry and thrift were once rewarded and that today’s modern riches are merely a result of luck. The government aggressively and massively advertises for the lottery (“a dollar and a dream!”). So much for the moral legitimacy of complaints against corporate advertising (never mind the billions politicians spend advertising themselves). The lottery is really no different than some of the high flying Wall Street products, including the fact that I am sure some states securitize future income streams from lottery sales. So much for the legitimacy of shutting down InTrade. And so on.The existence of a lottery is a big giant F&CK YOU from your lords and masters in the statehouses and in DC telling you that your perception of the emperor being naked is simply a function of your altered mental state and having nothing to do with reason and reality. As long as I see state sanctioned lotteries side-by-side with the moral (and economic) posturing of the political class, I will not only regard them as hypocritical, but as dangerous and worthy of not one shred of respect. None.
Have a lovely day.