Sunday, January 10, 2016

Power and Balls

It was all over the news. The Powerball jackpot had risen to over $900 Million. You couldn't escape it. I didn't play, nobody I knew played, but we all knew what the jackpot was. Someone, somewhere, told us. It was on TV, people were talking about it at work, it was on the radio, every gas station window had a sign. Despite my attempts to remain ignorant, I was almost forcefully informed. The big question? "Who was going to win?"

The number and the question had become ubiquitous. News of government corruption, wars, and just plain current events, and your average person is blissfully unaware of the details, but this number, everyone had heard and knew. It almost makes you wonder if we treated knowlege as a prize, if people would be far better educated. However the question on everyone's lips was eventually answered. Who would win? Nobody, that's who.

There was no powerball winner after a huge buying frenzy with some people frantically buying a hundred or more tickets at a time. The government was pulling in money hand over fist as hundreds of millions of tickets printed out on cheap paper with pink ink. Now, with nothing delivered, the jackpot stood at 1.3 BILLION and a new round of buying started as people spent even more money for their 0.0000000034% chance at being rich. The bigger question though, was how many times could they get away with having no winner, selecting the exact numbers that hundreds of millions of "random" tickets didn't manage to cover, before people stopped buying tickets?   It's a balancing act the lottery comission has mastered, and whether it's truly random or less so, to them, it's just another tax. A tax on the poor.

Here's a breakdown as to which taxes affect each "class" of Americans the most based on total financial impact.

Rich - Capital Gains tax, Estate tax, and Property tax
Middle Class - Income tax, Sales tax, and Property Tax
Poor - Lottery, Traffic Citations, Gas tax, Registration and Licensing, and Sin tax (alcohol and cigarette tax)

If you'll notice, the rich are taxed on what they already have and what they earn based on what they already have. The middle class are taxed on thier attempts to gain what the rich have, and the poor, since they have no property and no real means of ever obtaining any, are taxed on their habits, mobility, and dreams... simply being alive.

It's very medieval if you think about it. The lords in Europe didn't want their peasants moving around and having too much fun either, lest they become unruly and start thinking they deserve more out of life, and the taxes that affect the poor the most are on ideas of getting rich (face it, the lottery's an idea, not a chance), things they self-medicate with because they can't afford real healthcare, and their means of transportation.

The upper echelons of society pay the same taxes, but their lives are affected FAR less by something like a parking ticket, and taxes on a pack of cigarettes... and rarely do they play the lottery. With lower incomes, lower expenditure, and no real property to tax, the lottery is the main way to tax the poor, and it's the only tax that Americans seem to gladly, almost gleefully pay.

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