I remember a few months ago, the whole country was in a lotto craze. The prize was a hundred million or a billion or some number that you couldn’t really count anymore because it had too many zeroes. Seeing the winner announced in the newspapers all I could think about was: “What a waste…. It should have been me!” All kidding aside I really do think our current lotto system is a waste. There is just so much more we can do with it. I can’t believe we are wasting so much potential.
Before anything I need to write why I think the lotto is important. I wouldn’t make an article out of it if I didn’t think it was right? Lotto is one of the few sources of social and economic mobility in our country. Maybe even the world. Think about it. You are a worker or a jeep driver or some other comparable occupation, earning minimum or a little over minimum wage. Even if you work all your life you will not earn enough to buy yourself a house in a nice neighborhood. Let alone be wealthy enough to give your children a head start in life. With today’s rising costs I would be surprised if you broke even with expenses. I can’t even blame the low minimum wage. If we raise it foreign factories wouldn’t come here anymore and we would lose even more jobs. Sadly, the fact remains that if you are a minimum wage earner, you are likely to die a minimum wage earner.
Enter the lotto. In one fell swoop a person can receive enough money to set him up for life. Not just him, but his immediate family and any descendants as well. It happens all the time. We see a person win the lotto, buy a house and live the good life. It is not enough though. We have to engineer it so that the winner will be one of the poor who need the upward mobility. Not only that we also need a system where that person will keep the money, so he won’t end up back in the poor house through bad decisions.
The system I want to see in place is one where the lucky winner would NOT be able to spend his winnings. Yes, it does sound mean, but hear me out first. Lotto winners should only be able to spend five to ten percent of their earnings. They can spend it however they like. On celebrations, gifts, whatever. It should be enough to give their friends and family a little treat. The government or any other entity should then provide a financial planner. The sole task of this person is to help the winner invest the remaining ninety percent or so left of his wealth. This received money must keep on generating additional money keeping the winner comfortably well off. In our current system there is no control over what the winner does with his money. Making it very possible for the entire winning to be spent on things with no value returning the winner to his previous social state. I have very little tolerance for people who win huge jackpots and piss it all away. In fact I think they should be shot as an example to others. Actually that was a joke. Maybe.
Ahhh…. but is it feasible? There are many opinions floating around today and plenty of people convinced they know what to do. The rub is that when you ask them about how they would go about achieving it, they suddenly get blank stares. This might be one of those times (insert smiley here). Honestly it is impossible to place a blanket ban on the upper and middle upper classes from participating in the lottery. Another look at the problem and we can see that while it may be impossible to prevent them from joining, it is very easy to make it undesirable for them to do so. In effect they would be able to join but would not find it in their best interests to do so.
First off you start with the obligatory appeal to human kindness and understanding. Attempt to explain to them why we want people from the lower economic classes to win the lottery and we hope that they understand this is what best for the country. Hopefully some listen. Probably not though.
Second we move the lotto stations out of the malls and into street corners in poorer neighborhoods. We are basically moving our stands closer to our target market. This will keep some of those we seek to exclude out, but not all.
Third and this is probably the most important one. We institute a requirement for a person to declare his yearly income when he claims his lottery winnings. We then impose a tax of 95% of the lottery pot on the winner if his income exceeds x amount per year. The photo,name, and yearly income of the winner would them be posted on every major newspaper.
Last and as a fail safe we use the financial advisers. We tap them to calculate the income tax for the winner for the net couple of years. All his income. Not only from his winnings. After all we want the newly created rich people to pay the proper taxes right? Though this probably won’t do much as a deterrent except acting as another person or two that violators have to bribe.
Funnily enough this system is actually already happening in our country. People would enter organizations which is like a co-op. The people would then pay a monthly fee and they give all those monthly fees to one person. Till they all get one month. If there were twelve people in the group for example they would have to pay say one thousand a month. Then person A gets the whole twelve thousand for January. This is repeated for person B, all the way till December. The problem with this is in its scale. Sure the person may use the money to get a new TV or appliance with the influx of cash, but no real change happens. When the money disappears, and it will since it is too small to grow. They are back to their former standard of living. Whereas a national co-op or the lotto if you will is enough money to get a family out of poverty for generations.
I think this is the first, actual policy I have written an article about. The previous articles I made talk more about issues instead of any real concrete plan. In truth an actual national co-op system would work best. However I would assume that it would be greeted with skepticism by the public as a new tax. You also have the problem of how to pick the first winners. Better to transform something they already know and are used to. This way is purely voluntary as well. Will this solve our poverty problem? No. Not by a long shot. It might not even affect one percent of our poor. Still every little bit helps and those new winners can start businesses in our country providing more jobs to people. If you earn minimum wage and read this, I really do urge you to start entering the lotto every day. A ticket a day keeps poverty away.