Lottery raises awareness for poverty, addiction

Columnist and Columnist

As a child I was not a big viewer of cartoons. One I did watch though was “The Flintstones.”

While I do not remember many details of the episodes, I do remember one conversation very well.

When discussing Mr. Slate, Fred’s boss, Barney said, “Well you know Fred, rich people have problems too.” Fred retorts, “Yeah Barn, but one of them isn’t money.”

How utterly profound that statement is. Think about life for those of us not born into wealth. Lack of money causes an overwhelming amount of stress in our collective lives.

Even for those of us who are going to school for a better life, money is still the foremost worry.

This brings me to two topics. The first is the lottery. I am a dedicated lottery player.

Not just when the jackpot is huge, like last Friday night, but also when it is only $20 million. Only $20 million I say?

Yes, some players will not play when the jackpot is that “small.” I will take that “small” every day, my friends. While I am a dedicated player, I am not a problem gambler. I play between two and four dollars a week.

I am a problem daydreamer about the lottery though. I think of all the loved ones I could help, how my life would be instantly improved, and so on. Some say this is a waste of time,but I think it is fine, even natural.

After all, winning the Mega Millions would not only relieve life’s stress, it would buy a whole bunch of fun too.

People might ask, “Paul you are such a liberal, such an apologist for the poor.”

“Don’t you realize that the lottery only hurts the poor?” My answer is that people with gambling problems will find a way to gamble — they do not need the lottery. My opinion is that the lottery does not create problem gamblers.

It may worsen an existing problem, but it did not create the problem. So go ahead and be reasonable with your lottery dreams — it doesn’t really hurt you if you can keep it under control.

My second topic also deals with money.

Poverty in America is not sexy.

It is not even on the national political radar. The Mega Millions got more publicity last week than poverty gets in one year.

In this election year, non-issues like abortion are getting the attention, just like every election year now.

One of the big reasons poverty is never discussed anymore is the poor’s fault: they do not vote nearly enough. No vote equals no say. The other big reason is that if the poor are never talked about, we can all pretend they don’t exist.

Every year since 1979, real wages have fallen below inflation. That is truly a crime in a nation this wealthy. Education has lifted millions out of poverty, but education is not the answer for many Americans. As the great, late Chicago columnist Mike Royko said, “If everyone goes to college, who cleans the toilet?”

No, the answer for lifting Americans out of poverty is to increase wages, period.

Reganomics, followed by the American Left lacking any guts, has led to this problem.

It is time to rectify this situation. One great step was introduced last week, but unfortunately, it has zero chance of passing in Congress.

Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa has proposed raising the minimum wage 35 percent over the next 30 months.

The minimum wage would then raise at the rate of inflation every year. This would be a fantastic step in a new War on Poverty.

Of course, it has no chance to become law. We in America like to believe that the poor want to be poor. That is one of the great lies in American politics.

With the American Left impotent, the poor must placate themselves with lottery dreams.

Our politicians have chosen to ignore a complete segment of our population.

The odds of winning the Mega Millions are 176 million to 1.

It seems the odds of the poor being truly represented in America is less than that.

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