What Are Our Odds, Really?

In Scrap The Lotto, David Sirota advocates for leaving the lottery behind because lottery mania has become an obsession. Sirota writes about Americans confusing a lottery with a financial investment; how in desperate times many tend to believe in, or at least act on, the whim of a big win to save themselves; and how the government ought to bear more responsibility in deliberative tax collection and management. While I agree with that last part wholeheartedly, I see something lurking beneath the discussion…

What you might not be able to see (because Salon’s links are not properly coded, and so do not work), is that Sirota’s reference for the Consumer Federation of America’s report that “one in five Americans believes playing the lottery is the best way to secure his or her long-term financial future” is a link to an article on gambling and gambling addiction.

I’ve no doubt gambling addiction numbers are up during such poor economic times; so are the numbers of other addictions, domestic violence, etc. Stress increases, and people are at their weakest in many ways. The ability to cover medical bills or to pay for professional services is also diminished, leaving people even more vulnerable. But that’s not everyone.

And they are missing the key point here.

While the odds for that jackpot lottery of $640 million were set at 1 in 176 million, those odds still seem better than the odds we in the 99% face just trying to make it in this country.

The odds may be stacked against us in the lotery, but somebody will win something, even if it’s the government who is guaranteed the win. But in the real world, we know it’s the “house,” the 1%-ers who always win. What are our odds when the playing field in this country is less even than at a casino?

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