Perspectives

Playing to lose, instead of pooling resources

By FinalCall.com News | Last updated: Dec 10, 2012 - 11:36:13 AM

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The half billion dollar drawing for the multi-state Powerball lottery is over. Besides a bevy of worthless tickets and unrealized dreams, those millions who paid $2 a ticket for the chance, or non-chance, to win aren’t left with anything.

Two ticket winners in Missouri and Arizona won the $579.9 million jackpot which was dangled before players in 42 states, Washington, D.C., and the Virgin Islands. Twenty-three million tickets were purchased in Illinois alone.

According to media reports, a Black man in Maryland may hold one of the winning tickets. His win, however, means little given the disproportionate amount of money Blacks and the poor generally pour into the legal lottery system—which could be and has been called a poor tax. Those least able to afford lottery tickets remain those most likely to play.

While lottery players may hold out for the hope of a big payout, the odds of winning the recent Powerball lottery were put at some 1 in 175 million. Your odds of being struck by lightning are 1 in 600,000. So you were better off betting on getting hit by lightning than hitting the lottery.

The biggest lottery prize ever was $656 million in a Mega Millions jackpot earlier this year. State lotteries took in $69 billion in fiscal year 2012 but in the end only $19 billion went to fund state programs like education. The rest went to promotions, prizes and paying firms to run the games, according to NBC News.com.

But it isn’t just the money and that pennies on the dollar from lottery sales actually go to fund things like education and state program, it is the manipulation of people by governments using a pipe dream and legal Ponzi scheme to fleece people they are supposed to serve.

“According to the Consumer Federation of America, more than 1 out of 5 Americans think the best way to achieve long-term financial security is to play the lottery. Isn’t it time to rethink the lottery as public policy and ask the question why, during the most severe economic crisis since the Depression, is government actively trying to convince citizens to spend large sums on virtually worthless gambling products instead of urging them to save and invest in their future?” asks Stop Predatory Gambling.org.

More striking it that people at the bottom spend more on lottery purchases because they believe that for once, everyone has the same odds. According to a 2008 study by a researcher at Carnegie Mellon University which found people who were made to feel poor “were nearly twice as likely to buy scratch-off lottery tickets as a comparison group made to feel subjectively more affluent.”

Additional research found that when people were told about inequities in education, jobs, and housing compared to the “equal chances” of winning the lottery, those who were given this reminder purchased almost three times as many tickets as groups not given the reminder, according to the Carnegie Mellon research. So in a perverse way, becoming part of a huge pool of suckers playing astronomical lottery odds is a way to level the playing field in an unequal society?

It has also been shown that among people earning around $13,000 an estimated five percent to nine percent of their earnings are plowed into lotteries. You gotta play to win, but most often those who can’t afford to are doing the playing. The same is true when poor counties and gambling are looked at: Researchers found sales of lottery tickets in North Carolina, South Carolina, California, Texas and Connecticut were higher in poorer districts. These same counties and zip codes, however, also find themselves with a preponderance of the worst schools and worst services because they don’t get a return on government spending equal to their disproportionate lottery contribution.

Studies have also shown lottery sales have a tendency to increase in economic downturns and even the unemployed scrape together a few bucks to regularly try their hands at these games of little to no chance.

But this behavior is not widely condemned or regarded as unreasonable, it is seen as a legitimate way to try to make some financial and economic headway. At the same time, the thought of pooling resources and using targeted buying to strengthen and develop Black communities is seen by many as unreasonable and a pipedream. So despite getting nearly $1 trillion out of the U.S. economy we cling to dreams, visions and lucky numbers for success. The numbers never add up and the luck doesn’t fall consistently or massively on us.

For years the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan has promoted pooling our resources in a national treasury and using that treasury to fund groups that work on our behalf and to begin developing blighted and neglected neighborhoods where entrepreneurs stand on street corners with drugs and guns, rolling the dice on how long they will survive or how long it will be before they are swept up in the criminal justice system. What else have we prepared for them to do?

“If we could get 40 million—and this is what I’m working for—40 million Black people, putting just 5 cents a day, 25 cents a week, $1 a month in a National Treasure that belongs to the people, inside of one year you would have $480 million. Multiply that two times more and you’re over $1.7 billion. Now, this is just from poor people—5 cents! But suppose we pull the rich in? Because once they see you doing this, they’re going to want to be a part of it,” said Min. Farrakhan in a January appearance on the Cliff Kelley radio show this year. He was once again promoting the economic program of the Hon. Elijah Muhammad and leveraging our unity by buying farmland to feed ourselves and bringing manufacturing back to wasted urban cities.

“The Honorable Elijah Muhammad said we need 100 million acres of land to start. … (W)e’ve got to do something, because President Barack Obama cannot make jobs for all of us that are unemployed—but we can!

“But the sad thing is this: I read recently that the beginning of this new year 2012, Black folk will have $1.1 trillion going through our hands. So if you look at how we throw our money away foolishly, the question all Black America has to ask: ‘Can you trust Farrakhan?’ I have never lied to you! I have never robbed the Black man of nothing! And whatever you give to me, I find a way to give it back to you! I am a finite man, who may not be here for a long, long time, so what is more important to me than life itself is The Future of Black people!” said Min. Farrakhan.

It’s way past time to stop pursuing pipe dreams and embrace unity we need to solve problems, create opportunity and get an actual return on a solid investment.

Our unity and pooling monetary and social capital will bring us success, which is a guarantee you will never get from a lottery ticket.

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