Almost inevitably every time it is reported that someone won the lottery, someone around me will say something like “you know, it always seems like those who really need it win.” Of course it is because the lottery is a tax on the poor.
In his book Dave Ramsey’s Complete Guide to Money: The Handbook of Financial Peace University, Dave Ramsey says the following regarding the lottery:
Myth: Playing the lottery and other forms of gambling will make me rich.Truth: The lottery is a tax on the poor and on people who can’t do math.Have you ever seen a long line of people in business suits, fine dresses, and expensive jewelry at the lottery ticket counter? Me neither. If this was the way to get rich, I promise you’d see some rich people standing in line. As it is, though, all I ever see in that line are broke people. And it’s sad, because I’m seeing them get even broker right in front of my eyes.Texas Tech did a study on lottery players and found that people without high school diplomas spent $173 a month playing, while college graduates who played only spent $49.7 That study makes me sick. I can’t even process broke people spending $173 a month on the lottery, so let’s just look at those paying $49. If you invest $50 a month at the stock market aver- age of 12 percent, every month, from age twenty to age seventy, you will end up with $1,952,920—EVERY TIME! Not if you get lucky. Not if you pick the right numbers. Not if you score on a scratcher. EVERY TIME!Another study found that people with incomes under $20,000 were twice as likely to play the lottery than those making over $40,000.8 This is a tax on the poor! But Dave, it’s fun! Throwing money in the toilet is fun? Then why don’t you just cut out the middleman and flush your whole paycheck as soon as you get it? But Dave, it helps fund our state’s education. That’s fantastic: broke people paying for rich people’s kids to go to college. There’s a plan. Here’s a better one: pay at the pump and skip the lottery line at the gas station. That’s broke people behavior, plain and simple. (84-85)
There are other reasons, of course, for standing against the lottery, but justice and a concern for the poor ought to be among the main reasons.