Thursday, May 7, 2015

Is Playing the Lottery Just Cheap Entertainment?

In a brief bit of research into playing the lottery, I saw numerous comments to the effect of, "It's only a couple dollars, and it's cheap entertainment--I dream about what I'd do with the money if I won the jackpot. It may even start a conversation with family members about what they'd do!"

from a pretty good Psychology Today article here: 

This left me incredulous and little ticked off, though it took me a moment to understand why. Soon enough, I figured out why that is one of the stupidest justifications I've ever heard!

Here's my explanation...You ready? Here goes:

DAYDREAMING IS FREE.

You don't have to buy a lottery ticket to daydream about what you'd do with the winnings! And even if wasting a couple dollars every so often won't hurt your finances--I can think of a grad student and blogger who would be happy to have those couple dollars! ;)

YOU KNOW WHAT ELSE IS FREE? TALKING.

Whether you're talking to family, friends, or accosting random people [who may think you're weird--but who cares? They're strangers!] on the sidewalk, talking doesn't cost a thing! In fact, 'shooting the breeze' is not only free--it's pretty much worthless (outside of any enjoyment you get from it).

Even more insidious is the "but I might win, so it's irresponsible NOT to play the lottery!" argument. Yeah, and an airplane might fall out of the sky and land directly on the building above my head--so it's clearly irresponsible of me not to commission an airplane-crash-proof, nuclear-proof, flood-proof, tornado-proof, everything-proof titanium bunker in which to sit for the duration of my life! Right? If you believe the first argument, the other one follows the same logic...

Here's the skinny:
If you play the lottery, you're guaranteed to throw money at the state government--which could be considered voluntarily paying extra taxes--every time you buy a lottery ticket! Even worse, the small cost damages the poor more than the wealthy (though the damage is not as severe as has been reported). In return, you have a vanishingly small possibility that you might get a significant payday.

Or even worse: you might actually win!

Don't play the lottery. Nothing good comes from it--even if you do win the jackpot! Playing the lottery is definitely NOT a part of the Millionaire Mindset!

This whole discussion of the lottery reminds me of one of my favorite commercials ever:


"I want to show you something. It's my shocked face."

Classic!