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Lottery and Taxes

Robert Parham had an interesting Ethics Daily piece yesterday on the lottery and taxes. Entitled "Lottery Is a Form of Public Tax Evasion," the piece notes that the lottery is a way of creating government revenue instead of raising taxes. The problem is that it is a regressive way for the government to raise money since the poor are the most likely to buy tickets and thus remain poor. Parham argues:
Unable or unwilling to create a fair and just tax system to provide for public services like education and health care, states have embraced the lottery as an alternative source of revenue. We, the citizens, have evaded making tough choices about taxation by embracing the lottery. We are engaged in a form of public tax evasion.

Most of us are content with a public scheme that transfers wealth from the poor - those most likely to play the lottery - to middle-class and rich Americans. The poor play and pay. We benefit from the public services. Yet again, the poor are exploited.
Very important points to think about as we considered issues of lotteries and taxes.


  1. Wow. I actually am against the lottery--in agreement for the first time with Parham.

    But for almost totally different reasons. Sometimes, you can strike a good lick with a crooked stick. Parham's liberal-politics rationale is that crooked stick.

    At least, though, he comes to the right conclusion, which makes the whole thing okay if ends justify the means.

  2. I'm not sure what your disagreement with the piece is. Do you think poor people should have to pay more than others? I, too, was already against the lottery (probably for the same reasons you are), but this is yet another reason why I now see it as problematic.

  3. No one has to play the lottery, and no one should. As you said, you and I were already against the lottery because it is biblically wrong. One is to work for financial gain, not gamble for unearned fortune.

    Parham and the group he references seem to think the lottery's not a good idea because it's bad public tax policy. Maybe, maybe not. It's bad spiritual policy.


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