The idea of lotteries really, really annoy me. They’re the biggest con in modern history, as well as a highly negative reflection on the human race. Let me explain – I’ll concentrate on the UK’s ‘National Lottery.’
Firstly, the Lottery shows how we as a society, or perhaps as a species, are obsessed with money. Every week millions of people in the UK spend money on a lottery ticket. Tickets cost £1, so over a lifetime someone could easily spend thousands of pounds on lottery tickets. The chances of simply winning this back once is about 1/80,000 and the chances of winning a jackpot are 1/14,000,000. Some people will buy more than one ticket a week. So millions of people are, effectively, throwing thousands of pounds away in their lifetimes for no gain, no investment, no returns. They know this yet they continue anyway.
This has the more sinister side effect of, very gradually, concentrating wealth. The lottery is, when simplified, a system which literally takes money from the majority and gives it to the minority. A very, very small number of people become millionaires at the expense of a gradual attrition of the rest of the country’s money. It’s the perfect system. People pay into it, or should I say are conned into it, by the hope of winning a fortune. It’s a caricature of pure capitalism, only without the shame.
This wealth leads to power because, in our society, money = power. It’s not as much of a problem in the UK as it would be in, say, the USA, but money still gives someone massive influence. Not in the form of corruption – I would hope – but in other, more subtle methods, such as in investments or trusts. I don’t claim to know a lot about how rich people use their money, and I hope I never will, but the fact rich people are powerful cannot be denied. Giving an average, random person this much power – or any unelected person for that matter – is deeply irresponsible as a society.
Now I know there are good sides to the Lottery. A significant amount of profits are taxed by the government, which can then (in theory) be used on services in the welfare state, or on infrastructure, or any other investment which helps the people of our country as a whole. In addition, huge fortunes which are left unclaimed regularly end up being donated to charity, which will be a massive benefit in this Age of Austerity to struggling causes. However, having positive points does not stop the Lottery being the immoral con that it is.