A Tax On Bad Math Skills

Remember being told that the Lottery would solve our education finance woes? Yep, that was a good one. Now the same band that brought us the state monopoly on games-of-chance want us to feel guilty that the poor and uneducated play the Lottery, and especially the high-dollar versions, at higher rates than more affluent and educated folks. Apparently someone didn’t read the memo that state-funded gambling is a tax on people with poor math skills. Which, of course, means the state has a perverse incentive: keep math skills low so more people will play.

That would at least explain the lack of math achievement scores… If only our bureaucrats were that economically astute.

The Houston Chronicle this week couldn’t bring itself to criticize the state’s monopoly on lotteries; after all, they support government monopolies per se. (Don’t think the state has a monopoly on lotteries? Try holding a private lottery and see where that lands you). The Chronicle opens their woe-is-us critique like this:

For $1, any adult so inclined can buy one of this state’s colorful scratch-off games and thrill to the chance of winning thousands. It’s almost always a waste of a dollar, but if played only once in a while, it’s an affordable pastime for even the poorest Texan.

Ah, so when it’s a dollar you give the state with crummy chances to win, it’s a harmless pastime, like baseball.

But then the article goes on to criticize the $50-per-tecket games that have the same crummy chances for winning, but net even better profits for the state. You and I might be troubled by the state getting in so much cash, or any other problem associated with a government-run "business." Not so our friends in the newsroom.

According to the Houston Chronicle’s research "the very poor are much more likely than the well-to-do to buy these scratch-offs."

The Chronicle says that the Lottery "preys upon those least able to afford it." Yep, that’s it. People are forced to play. And that bottle of $4 wine just jumped in their car along with the six-pack of twinkies and a carton of smokes.

Just watch: A legislator will slap a warning label on the ticket and all this liberal angst will go away.

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Michael Quinn Sullivan

Michael is the CEO of Empower Texans. A graduate of Texas A&M, former newspaper reporter, one-time Capitol Hill staffer, think tank vice president, and an Eagle Scout, Sullivan is married with three children. He divides his time between the Metroplex, the rest of Texas, and Austin.

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