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Lotteries and proper functions of governments

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Do the proper functions of government include administering lotteries?

Given that the moral is the practical, what would be some practical benefits to eliminating government lotteries in the USA?

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Do the proper functions of government include administering lotteries?

Governments may do whatever is necessary to perform their proper function -- protecting rights -- as long as it does not violate anyone's rights. Since that includes paying the salaries of judges, policemen, soldiers, etc. and building jails, buying weapons, etc., the government needs to raise money. As one of the few voluntary means of raising government funds, I don't see anything wrong with government lotteries.

Given that the moral is the practical, what would be some practical benefits to eliminating government lotteries in the USA?

Since I think government lotteries are moral, for the reasons given above, I think eliminating them would be IMpractical. The funds they currently raise would have to be raised by the initiation of government force.

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Do the proper functions of government include administering lotteries?

Given that the moral is the practical, what would be some practical benefits to eliminating government lotteries in the USA?

I would prefer to see more frequent reporting of income and expenses of administration and cutting out any deadwood and corruption in administration, but lotteries are actually one of the few good things our state and fed governments do give. But - do you mean the morality of non-monetary awards like the green card lottery?

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Do the proper functions of government include administering lotteries?

Governments may do whatever is necessary to perform their proper function -- protecting rights -- as long as it does not violate anyone's rights. Since that includes paying the salaries of judges, policemen, soldiers, etc. and building jails, buying weapons, etc., the government needs to raise money. As one of the few voluntary means of raising government funds, I don't see anything wrong with government lotteries.

I do. They do not force people to pay like taxe do, but they do cynically exploit the poor who think they have nothing to lose so they might as well habitually gamble their last dollar in the hope of winning, with odds much worse than they realize but under the encouragement of the government. This further provides more money to the government than it could likely yet raise through unpopular taxes, further empowering expansion of the empire. Government monopolies on lotteries in the absense of private competition also allows them to keep the payback odds artificially low.

The latest variation in this scam is the establishment of state government-sanctioned casino monopolies in which the government exacts higher taxes from the casino owners in exchange for allowing a casino that others are prohibited from having. It is pure corruption to feed the state through a fascist arrangement with heavily controlled "private" casinos whose backers have "connections".

Lotteries in a proper limited government in a more rational culture could be proper as one means of raising funds, but are a secondary issue. It's not something to hang a theory of government or its implementation on.

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Governments may do whatever is necessary to perform their proper function -- protecting rights -- as long as it does not violate anyone's rights. Since that includes paying the salaries of judges, policemen, soldiers, etc. and building jails, buying weapons, etc., the government needs to raise money. As one of the few voluntary means of raising government funds, I don't see anything wrong with government lotteries.

I do. They do not force people to pay like taxes do, but they do cynically exploit the poor who think they have nothing to lose so they might as well habitually gamble their last dollar in the hope of winning, with odds much worse than they realize but under the encouragement of the government.

That is caused by the welfare state mentality, not lotteries. The numbers runners were doing a lot of business in poor neighborhoods long before state lotteries. For all I know, they still are.

This further provides more money to the government than it could likely yet raise through unpopular taxes, further empowering expansion of the empire. Government monopolies on lotteries in the absense of private competition also allows them to keep the payback odds artificially low.

It's the government monopoly that is an illegitimate violation of rights. If private gambling could compete with the government, they would have to offer better odds.

Lotteries in a proper limited government in a more rational culture could be proper as one means of raising funds, but are a secondary issue. It's not something to hang a theory of government or its implementation on.

Certainly not, but it is one option for voluntary financing along with contract insurance and bake sales.

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If it's voluntary, it will succeed or fail on the merits of the system, just as any business does in the free market. The only difference is that a portion of the winnings could be used to help provide the primary funtions of government. It seems like a rational supplement to voluntary taxation.

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It seems like a rational supplement to voluntary taxation.

Taxation isn't voluntary; the proper term would be donations or at least some concept that involves free will.

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There are many coercive and corrupt functions of government besides taxation. I do not support any means of feeding and expanding them in the name of "voluntary" funding, as if how they raise the money is all that matters. Governments' appeal to the worst in people to encourage losses in gambling, aimed at those it knows can least afford it and who are being cynically exploited and manipulated, together with a monopoly control on almost all forms of gambling -- all cynically used to make it easier to grow government power in the face of resistance to higher taxes -- only make it worse. The reason why this comes up so often now is because all this is precisely what several states are now doing.

The possible role of a lottery to help fund a proper limited government of the future is secondary and irrelevant to what is happening now, nor is it an essential element of defining a proper government and how to implement it. (Ayn Rand briefly mentioned a lottery as one possible means for voluntary funding of a proper government in her "Government Financing in a Free Society".)

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But - do you mean the morality of non-monetary awards like the green card lottery?

No, I intended to ask about lotteries that pay either money prizes or prizes that can be bought with nothing but money.

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There are many coercive and corrupt functions of government besides taxation. I do not support any means of feeding and expanding them in the name of "voluntary" funding, as if how they raise the money is all that matters. Governments' appeal to the worst in people to encourage losses in gambling, aimed at those it knows can least afford it and who are being cynically exploited and manipulated, together with a monopoly control on almost all forms of gambling -- all cynically used to make it easier to grow government power in the face of resistance to higher taxes -- only make it worse. The reason why this comes up so often now is because all this is precisely what several states are now doing.

The possible role of a lottery to help fund a proper limited government of the future is secondary and irrelevant to what is happening now, nor is it an essential element of defining a proper government and how to implement it. (Ayn Rand briefly mentioned a lottery as one possible means for voluntary funding of a proper government in her "Government Financing in a Free Society".)

I agree. Which is why I think that if a lottery was used it should not have any big prizes. In no way should a government, or anyone else, promote the idea of the unearned----in this case, unearned wealth. Thousands of small prizes would be better----for example, enough to take your wife out to dinner. A buyer of a ticket (or many tickets) would do so on the assumption that his purchase is mainly a form of donation, not a chance to win a fortune.

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-----------

I agree. Which is why I think that if a lottery was used it should not have any big prizes. In no way should a government, or anyone else, promote the idea of the unearned----in this case, unearned wealth. Thousands of small prizes would be better----for example, enough to take your wife out to dinner. A buyer of a ticket (or many tickets) would do so on the assumption that his purchase is mainly a form of donation, not a chance to win a fortune.

I hope you haven't given a bureaucrat another idea. :(

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In no way should a government, or anyone else, promote the idea of the unearned----in this case, unearned wealth.
On what basis is it claimed that the winnings in a lottery or some other form of gambling are "unearned"?

It appears that gambling is being identified here as something immoral. I would very much like to hear the premises which have led to this conclusion.

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It appears that gambling is being identified here as something immoral. I would very much like to hear the premises which have led to this conclusion.

So would I. I occasionally gamble and regard it as a legitimate form of entertainment.

It is true that some people are compulsive gamblers and seek the unearned just as some people are alcoholics and drink to get drunk. Their actions should not, however, cast moral disapproval on everyone who gambles or drinks.

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In no way should a government, or anyone else, promote the idea of the unearned----in this case, unearned wealth.
On what basis is it claimed that the winnings in a lottery or some other form of gambling are "unearned"?

It appears that gambling is being identified here as something immoral. I would very much like to hear the premises which have led to this conclusion.

I have not said that gambling is immoral, but given the current-day context of million-dollar prizes, I would say that that money is unearned. Which is why I have suggested many smaller prizes in place of a big one. Nor have I ever heard arguments proving that winnings from gambling (which activity is slightly different than buying a lottery ticket) are to be considered earned money.

How this relates to lotteries being used as a tool for financing the government is this: A member of our future rational society, wanting to support his rights-protecting government, will want to donate some of his hard-earned money to it. I do not see that he will want to waste his time buying tickets, nor will he be concerned about checking winning numbers. He donates his money, not in hopes of getting more money back, but that his government will use it efficiently in the protecting of his rights.

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Why is the money unearned if one wins a million dollar prize, but not a $1000 dollar prize?

Here, the government lotteries offer smaller prizes, and a "jackpot" which statistically happens less than the other prizes. It is quite common to get four numbers in a row, so a small prize is awarded. It is exponentially less likely to get five numbers in a row, so a larger prize is awarded. It is highly unlikely to get six numbers in a row, so the jackpot is advertised yet rarely won.

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I have not said that gambling is immoral, but given the current-day context of million-dollar prizes, I would say that that money is unearned.

That's not a problem because the odds are millions to one that the unearned will be the un-won.

Which is why I have suggested many smaller prizes in place of a big one. Nor have I ever heard arguments proving that winnings from gambling (which activity is slightly different than buying a lottery ticket) are to be considered earned money.

But small prizes aren't nearly the fun that huge ones are. Fantasizing what I would do with $100 million is much more interesting than imagining winning a dinner at some fancy restaurant. That is why, when playing the lottery for entertainment, a big prize at the cost of a dollar is a good value for the money.

How this relates to lotteries being used as a tool for financing the government is this: A member of our future rational society, wanting to support his rights-protecting government, will want to donate some of his hard-earned money to it. I do not see that he will want to waste his time buying tickets, nor will he be concerned about checking winning numbers. He donates his money, not in hopes of getting more money back, but that his government will use it efficiently in the protecting of his rights.

If a worthy non-profit organization raised money by holding a bake sale, I would not just buy the cake. I'd eat it, too.

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Nor have I ever heard arguments proving that winnings from gambling (which activity is slightly different than buying a lottery ticket) are to be considered earned money.

As long as gambling winnings are taxable, I'd say that it is currently considered earned money by our government. Business method patents can be granted on lotteries leading to potential royalties which is really earned money.

How this relates to lotteries being used as a tool for financing the government is this: A member of our future rational society, wanting to support his rights-protecting government, will want to donate some of his hard-earned money to it. I do not see that he will want to waste his time buying tickets, nor will he be concerned about checking winning numbers. He donates his money, not in hopes of getting more money back, but that his government will use it efficiently in the protecting of his rights.

From the utterings I hear in the course of employment, I'd say something like 1 in 3 people think winning a lottery is the only guaranteed source of financial security. I overhear many people fantasize about winning lotteries. As the education and rationality of the majority of a society grows, the less likely each individual will be in participating in lotteries given the probability of winning, and the less like an individual would be to spend hard-earned money on "pity" lotteries (i.e., please support such-and-such non-profit cause *and* have a chance to win 50/50 (or whatever) at the same time"). The more educated the society in general, the more sophisticated a government lottery must become (with decreasing returns for their investment in marketing) and the more individuals will support voluntary contributions to government. Perhaps I am thinking in an oversimplistic manner about this, but I support the proper use of lotteries in a proper government in part because I still hope the status quo will be nothing but a memory during my lifetime.

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In no way should a government, or anyone else, promote the idea of the unearned----in this case, unearned wealth.
On what basis is it claimed that the winnings in a lottery or some other form of gambling are "unearned"?

It appears that gambling is being identified here as something immoral. I would very much like to hear the premises which have led to this conclusion.

I have not said that gambling is immoral...
By linking lottery winnings to the promotion of "unearned wealth", the inference is that lottery winnings (and by extension, gambling winnings in general) are immoral (since it is claimed 'in no way should...anyone...promote the idea of the unearned'.)

I question both these notions.

...given the current-day context of million-dollar prizes, I would say that that money is unearned.
This assertion does not answer the question which was asked. It does not identify the basis for the conclusion that the winnings are 'unearned'. It merely repeats the assertion that they are somehow unearned. As such, that assertion remains unsupported. Therefore, I must repeat the question:

What is the support for the assertion that lottery (or other gambling) winnings are somehow "unearned"? What premises lead to the conclusion that such winnings should not be 'promoted' by "anyone"?

As it stands, I must now question the definition of the term 'unearned' (and therefore 'earned') being used in the assertion under review (especially when a non-essential such as the size of the winnings is cited as somehow being a distinguishing factor. The size of the wealth has NO relation to whether that wealth has been 'earned' or 'unearned'.)

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In no way should a government, or anyone else, promote the idea of the unearned----in this case, unearned wealth.
On what basis is it claimed that the winnings in a lottery or some other form of gambling are "unearned"?

It appears that gambling is being identified here as something immoral. I would very much like to hear the premises which have led to this conclusion.

I have not said that gambling is immoral...
By linking lottery winnings to the promotion of "unearned wealth", the inference is that lottery winnings (and by extension, gambling winnings in general) are immoral (since it is claimed 'in no way should...anyone...promote the idea of the unearned'.)

I question both these notions.

...given the current-day context of million-dollar prizes, I would say that that money is unearned.
This assertion does not answer the question which was asked. It does not identify the basis for the conclusion that the winnings are 'unearned'. It merely repeats the assertion that they are somehow unearned. As such, that assertion remains unsupported. Therefore, I must repeat the question:

What is the support for the assertion that lottery (or other gambling) winnings are somehow "unearned"? What premises lead to the conclusion that such winnings should not be 'promoted' by "anyone"?

As it stands, I must now question the definition of the term 'unearned' (and therefore 'earned') being used in the assertion under review (especially when a non-essential such as the size of the winnings is cited as somehow being a distinguishing factor. The size of the wealth has NO relation to whether that wealth has been 'earned' or 'unearned'.)

You are correct. Therefore, I would like to hear the argument FOR the morality of gambling. Or, if it is an optional matter, I would like to hear the argument for that. However, even if gambling, and lotteries, can be proven to be moral, given the psychology of most men in a future rational society, I don't see how the use of a lottery would be effective. Just as today, ARI does not function and grow by means of a lottery.

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Maybe gambling is moral if you find entertainment value in the process. For example, I like playing blackjack. In many blackjack games, the house has an edge of about 0.3%, meaning I will win 49.7% of the time I bet. The amount I lose I see as fair compensation for my enjoyment of the game. It's exciting to win a big hand, for example.

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I have not said that gambling is immoral, but given the current-day context of million-dollar prizes, I would say that that money is unearned.

That's not a problem because the odds are millions to one that the unearned will be the un-won.

Which is why I have suggested many smaller prizes in place of a big one. Nor have I ever heard arguments proving that winnings from gambling (which activity is slightly different than buying a lottery ticket) are to be considered earned money.

But small prizes aren't nearly the fun that huge ones are. Fantasizing what I would do with $100 million is much more interesting than imagining winning a dinner at some fancy restaurant. That is why, when playing the lottery for entertainment, a big prize at the cost of a dollar is a good value for the money.

How this relates to lotteries being used as a tool for financing the government is this: A member of our future rational society, wanting to support his rights-protecting government, will want to donate some of his hard-earned money to it. I do not see that he will want to waste his time buying tickets, nor will he be concerned about checking winning numbers. He donates his money, not in hopes of getting more money back, but that his government will use it efficiently in the protecting of his rights.

If a worthy non-profit organization raised money by holding a bake sale, I would not just buy the cake. I'd eat it, too.

If a non-profit organization was selling cakes, I assume that you would buy the cake because you wanted to eat it. However, if it simply asked for donations, I assume you would donate something without expecting a prize.

I don't see how playing a lottery, that is, standing in line to buy tickets, is entertaining. Playing a game of cards can be entertaining, and so can selecting horses from the racing form. But the entertainment is still there if you win or if you lose. With lotteries, especially when the big prize goes up to millions and millions of dollars, the number of ticket buyers (not really players, since purchasing a ticket is not a form of play) goes way up. Why? Not because buying tickets (especially with longer lines) is now fun, but because there is the hope of winning a fortune.

I don't see how playing for a big prize is "good value for the money" if the chances of winning are so slim.

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Why is the money unearned if one wins a million dollar prize, but not a $1000 dollar prize?

Here, the government lotteries offer smaller prizes, and a "jackpot" which statistically happens less than the other prizes. It is quite common to get four numbers in a row, so a small prize is awarded. It is exponentially less likely to get five numbers in a row, so a larger prize is awarded. It is highly unlikely to get six numbers in a row, so the jackpot is advertised yet rarely won.

Essentially, you are right, though I was thinking of an even smaller prize, as I think I said. The difference being that the much smalletr prize is just fun money, not an amount which is going to pay your rent, your bills, or your livelihood for the next 10 years.

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I would like to hear the argument FOR the morality of gambling.
I would say Ms. Speicher has provided a simple explanation for the morality of gambling. Gambling is a form of entertainment. Personally I would place it in the general sub-category of entertainment which includes such things as thrill rides or games of chance found in amusement parks - or board games and the like found in most homes.

Are games immoral? Or is winning games immoral?

However, even if gambling, and lotteries, can be proven to be moral, given the psychology of most men in a future rational society, I don't see how the use of a lottery would be effective.
On what basis is THIS claim now made? Is the suggestion here that lotteries and gambling in general only appeal to the irrational or those of questionable psychology? If so, again, I must challenge both these notions.

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I don't see how playing a lottery, that is, standing in line to buy tickets, is entertaining.
Ms. Speicher already identified what can be entertaining about a lottery - for instance, the thrill produced by imagining what one would do with the winnings, etc.. The fact that you personally do not appreciate this form of entertainment and see little or no 'value' to it does not make it improper let alone immoral.

Personally, I find many forms of entertainment far from "fun". In other words, I do not get the same value (or any value) out of them as others do. But that does not mean I consider such individuals to be psychologically, morally, or rationally deficient. Nor does the lack of value to me personally mean no one should therefore enjoy, let alone promote, such forms of entertainment. My personal preferences in such matters are just that - preferences - preferences within a logically valid category of entertainment.

As such, I see no problem with this form of entertainment. And I see no problem with government using it as a means of voluntary financing for government.

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... the much smalletr prize is just fun money, not an amount which is going to pay your rent, your bills, or your livelihood for the next 10 years.
Is the suggestion here that an inconsequential amount of money makes the entertainment of a raffle or lottery MORE "fun" and a consequential amount of money makes it LESS fun? In other words, the smaller the prize, the more entertaining is the gamble - and the greater the prize, the less entertaining is the gamble?

I have to say such a notion is completely backwards.

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