One of my first ever journalistic ventures involved inveighing against the lottery proposed by Georgias then-governor Zell Miller. I havent ridden that hobby horse much since then, but I remain of the opinion that lotteries are craven and counterproductive means of funding allegedly worthy public purposes. Theyre craven because they enable politicians to evade having to make the case for raising taxes to pay for some government program. And theyre counterproductive in at least this sense: a lottery that, for example, funds public education or scholarships implicitly teaches the lesson that financial success depends upon chance, rather than upon hard work and education. Whats more, of course, because the folks who are likeliest to play a lottery tend to be less likely to take full advantage of the educational programs the lottery funds, the lottery tends to redistribute from the less wealthy to the wealthy.
All of this is a long-winded way of recommending Jordan Ballors
blog post and op-ed on the latest lottery craze--privatization, which basically involves trying to sell the things off before they cease being profitable. I feel curiously vindicated.