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Unfortunately, we do not live in a vacuum. The lottery affects everyone,whether they choose to participate or not. A government-sponsored lottery is a public policy that creates addicts. When it comes to severity, America's gambling addiction isn't too far behind the nation's drug problem, and it's growing. Due to our poor economy, officials in a majority of states have pushed for new or expanded gambling in order to bring in more revenue. These states have gotten addicted to gambling as a cure for their mismanaged local economies. To deal with unprecedented budget gaps legislators tout gambling as a painless source of revenue instead of making tough budget cuts. These government officials know they creating a gambling addiction because most states use some of the gambling revenues to fund programs to prevent and treat gambling addiction (i.e., they are essentially admitting that they know they are creating some gamblers who become addicts.) Is this appropriate policy? I don't think so.
Forty-three states sponsor heavily promoted lotteries and, admittedly, there is some job creation and economic stimulus in these states. But do the benefits really outweigh the costs? What's touted as good for the economy is bad for society, and gambling addiction carries a huge price tag. When the addiction rate increases, so does the cost to society, Bankruptcies, burglaries and other crimes, spouse abuse, child neglect and abuse, foreclosures and even suicide. The impact of gambling addiction is wide and deep. I used to live in Gulfport, MS, I know of what I speak. Baylor University professor Earl Grinols estimates that addicted gamblers cost the U.S. between $32.4 billion and $53.8 billion a year -- about $274 per adult annually. Money spent on gambling could be used to bolster Americans' meager retirement accounts, pay for children's college educations, or shore up emergency savings. Simply spending it in a transaction that is win-win rather than win-lose is always the best alternative and consistent with the principles of capitalism that founds our nation, Yes, some people can and do gamble responsibly, and the issue of whether they be denied that outlet to protect those who can't is a difficult question -- and similar to arguments regarding the legality of drugs. While there may be valid arguments against the government intervening to protect autonomous adults from themselves, even stronger arguments can be made that policy makers should not actively support and encourage dysfunctional behaviors. It is a problem when government agencies specifically set up gambling facilities and lotteries purely for profit. It is even more of a problem when these states hire advertising agencies who promote government-sponsored gambling, and who very consciously and intentionally create advertisements that entice people and encourage gambling with promotions that advertise the joy of winning the lottery, when the odds are so microscopic than anyone seeing the ad will ever have that experience.
Your use of state taxes is a straw man. Personally, I do not think essentials should be taxed (i.e., many states do not tax groceries). But do you refuse to fight for any cause because you can't fight for all of them? The state tax is already here and has been for years. The lottery is not in Alabama yet, and if it is ever allowed, will probably never be reversed. So it is reasonable for opponents of the lottery, like me, to argue hard to keep it out.
Finally, to say that morality cannot be legislated shows a misunderstanding of what laws really are. All laws declare one behavior right and one behavior wrong, which is the very definition of morality. When you say morality cannot be legislated, you probably mean that legislation cannot change hearts. This is true, but changing hearts is not the purpose of laws. Regardless of one's personal convictions, laws encourage a certain behavior by citizens. Legislation cannot be divorced from morality. All laws mandate morality. The question is not then can we legislate morality, but whose morality do we legislate? Just as agnosticism and atheism are religions in their own right, your "amoral" position is in fact a statement of the "moral" beliefs which you desire to impose on me and the rest of society.
I end as I started ... unfortunately, we do not live in a vacuum.
This post has been edited 2 times, most recently by Dakota Dave on 4/2/2012 at 12:25 AM
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