24 November 2008

a second point on capitalism:: the lottery system

I recently read an article from the Chicago Reporter that I came across while browsing.
The article stated how the poorest Chicagoan's play the lottery the most. They spend a good chunk of their minuscule income in the hopes that they can finally hit it big.

“On average, I’d say [I spend] about $25 a day,” said Brown, now 36, a laid-off laborer. “But I don’t mind because I know, sooner or later, I’m going to hit something.”

According to the article, the low-income Chicago communities have generated the highest lottery sales in the state, predominately African-Americans and Hispanics. Residents in these communities spent a higher portion of their incomes on the lottery than people in richer areas. Also, despite the nation's recent economic downturn, lottery spending has increased.

Because people are bound to the system of capitalism, they are reduced to trying out their luck. Spending loads of money on a chance just doesn't make sense to me, but then again, why are casinos so successful? People are relying on hope and the chance that they can strike it big and solve their problems that capitalism cannot.

“Lotteries are, in essence, a form of regressive taxation that distributes wealth and resources away from those who can least afford to pay,” said Paul Street, vice-president for research and planning at the Chicago Urban League. “[Lotteries] especially extract wealth from communities of color, and most particularly from African Americans.”

Also, lottery consistently takes money from the poor and feeds it into the government. This is why I do not understand people's obsession with it and how they can legitimately "hope" to strike it big.

“Illinois deficits approached or even surpassed $1 billion this past year,” said Illinois Lottery Director Lori Montana. “Had the lottery not transferred $555 million to the state, the budget shortfall could have been significantly larger.”

The lottery’s public relations director, Anne Plohr Rayhill, said it is not the fault of the lottery that black and poor residents spend more.
“We try not to target anyone,” she said. “We’re visible to everybody. We don’t do the sort of thing where we put a lot of advertising in one area and not another.”

Of course they're not.


David Kenneth Johnson said...

I share your skepticism!

Anonymous said...

Yeah. I even sometimes share some of your skepticism, especially since I am following a totally different career. However, remember that what you read or see on TV news often can present things out of context and/or leave out a lot that the public never sees or hears. I was SEVERELY MISQUOTED in the Reporter article, which obviously still burns me (in a variety of ways) to this day. -- Anne Plohr