I don't play the lottery very often, maybe once or twice a year and never nothing major: a $1 ticket here, a pick three game there. So I confess that I am no expert on this subject matter. I know that there are eventualy a couple of big winners, I know that there's a lot of little winners, I know that there's probably far more losers, I know that in most states the legislators got the lottery by shifting a good portion of the profits into education and I also know that the poor are far more vivid dreamers then us better well off folks. I want to talk for a moment, if I may, of the new kid on the block in the lottery neighborhood: the $50 scratch-off ticket, specifically the Texas Lottery $50 scratch-off ticket. $50! No typo.
This bad boy entered the block several months ago. Recently, the Texas media did a number crunching analysis of just who was buying these I-no-longer-have-money-for-groceries tickets. Conventional wisdom would suggest that the purveyors of the $50 scratch-off quest would be the more affluent people with money to toss around and have some fun with. But we all know how many windows conventional wisdom has flown out of when summarized by analytical measures. And this seems to be the rule in deciphering who is purchasing these tickets.
The analysis concluded that the majority of the $50 tickets are being sold in the ten most poverized zip codes in Texas; not in affluent neighborhoods. To me this suggests that the people who can least afford to part with $50 are the ones being suckered into purchases by an onslaught of little jingles reminding everyone that instant dreams come true – even to YOU! The ten most poverized zip codes; you know, the neighborhoods with the debilitated schools – no matter how much funding goes into the educationsystem. One jingle I heard on my radio today sang about "keep on scratching all day, it's a lot of fun and play" and of course the spot ends with the disclaimer 'please play responsibly'. Something doesn't jive. Scratch All Day. Play Responsibly! What?
Fortunately, most of society's affluent do not listen to such mindless (and mind-washing) jingles. They're smarter – in most cases, that's why they're affluent. But the poor are of a different mind set, "at least I saved enough for a loaf of bread but, damn, just imagine how much bread I could have bought for my young'uns if only that $50 ticket had lived up to its promise".
After the analysis, many folks who steer the ship USS Texas disputed the results. Many of them spent long moments saying that there is no conclusive evidence of who is buying these tickets in the poorer zip codes. They want you to believe that yuppies Dick and Jane are stopping off at Al's Muffler & Composium down on South Martin Luther King Drive on their way home to Brentwood Heights and jumping out of their Mercedes to hand Al $50 for a lottery ticket; and in the process screwing up the demographics. That seems to be the legislators story.
Our heads of state issues disclaimers for us to 'play responsibly'. I say they need to 'govern responsibly'. That's my two-cents for the moment.
Yahoo! I'll be damn, my $1 ticket is a $2 winner. That's 4% towards one of them big dollar tickets. Gotta go, gotta drive down to southwest El Paso to get me a $50 scratch-off. Don't worry mom I'll be in and out of there and back in Affluent Heights by nightfall. In the eternal words of Charlie Brown: "Good Grief".