“I want a half billion dollars,” my wife said to me late yesterday morning.

Not knowing what she was going on about I replied, “Your birthday was two weeks ago, you should have asked then.”

Information being the spice of life, she informed me, “The PowerBall jackpot is over five hundred million, we should play.”

Play. Fun.

I like to play and have fun. Paying a few bucks and wandering around a grassy park whacking at a golf ball for hours can be fun. Paying two dollars so I can sit around and hope is gambling, or the stupidest investment conceivable, but there is no “play” involved. I don’t see this as fun.

How is it now time to play? I won’t risk two bucks for a million. I won’t risk two bucks for ten million. I won’t risk two bucks for a hundred million. But now that it is up to five hundred million; well, it is time for us to take action!

We need a strategy. Should we play two numbers and double our odds? Keep in mind that usually when a jackpot gets huge more than one person seems to win and the pot is split. Maybe we should play the same number multiple times so if we hit we get more shares of the prize!

Ultimately I went to the grocery store and bought one random number for two dollars. Still eating at me is, ‘Why do this?’

“You can’t win if you don’t play,” said a lady at the counter contentedly filling in numbered dots as if she were voting for President of the USA.

“True,” I replied, “but you will lose if you do play.”

The lady opting to vote for less money in her wallet agreed with me as she continued filling in her numbered dots.

What you get from studying statistics and gaining wisdom with age is keen insight. What you get is being right and people agreeing with you. What you get is people continuing on doing the wrong thing as if you advised the opposite of what you just said. Agreeing makes people go away faster.

Rich people do not play the lottery. Poor people do. The money not paid out in prize money is treated as tax income for the states. So the lottery is an example of a tax on the poor only; or to put it another way, it is taking money from the poor and giving it to the rich.

Let us not forget that half of all lottery winners end up declaring bankruptcy, worse off than they were before they won! When poor people spend or lose money it does not just vanish into thin air, it lands in rich people’s pockets. So not only does the lottery lower taxes on the rich but it also gives them money directly when it is spent or poorly invested. Money doesn’t vanish, it just goes elsewhere.

I do know a guaranteed way to win two dollars next week. Thats right, just don’t play.

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