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View Full Version : Is anyone bothered by taxes on stupidity?


JonIrenicus
01-11-2010, 05:24 PM
voluntary taxes, fair enough, but taxes nonetheless.

-Lotteries


I guess I am not bothered by it for others, but I do think it is kind of messed up to have a system in place to siphon monies from the dumbest and often poorest people to pay for things.

bjkeefe
01-11-2010, 05:48 PM
voluntary taxes, fair enough, but taxes nonetheless.

-Lotteries


I guess I am not bothered by it for others, but I do think it is kind of messed up to have a system in place to siphon monies from the dumbest and often poorest people to pay for things.

Mario Cuomo once said something like, "Lotteries are an attempt by cowardly politicians to balance the budget on the backs of poor people."

I am not in favor of a wholesale ban on state-run lotteries for a variety of reasons, but Cuomo's got it exactly right.

As a general principle, I (think I) like the notion of "stupid taxes" -- taxes on stupidity -- but every time I think about any of them in particular I'm all, "Okay, no, not that one. No need to punish people further for their ignorance, lack of education, whatever." I think it's mostly just a visceral response to fretful people asking dopey questions in front of me at the airport or arguing about an expired fifteen-cent coupon at the grocery store or like that.

EvanHarper
01-11-2010, 07:37 PM
If you're a diehard, rational-choice, homo economicus type, you can always claim that the entertainment value people get out of playing the lottery compensates for the house advantage.

Lyle
01-13-2010, 02:15 PM
Gambling.

handle
01-13-2010, 04:00 PM
If you're a diehard, rational-choice, homo economicus type, you can always claim that the entertainment value people get out of playing the lottery compensates for the house advantage.

Speaking of house advantage, I once wrote a simulation program of a state run megabucks type random six number lottery. The user entered two sets of "lucky numbers" or chose "quick pick", and the computer ran what are normally bi-weekly drawings at 200 per second until the numbers hit, keeping track of how many years it would have normally taken, if played in real time.
The results? While I did not keep track of actual percentages (it was just for fun) it usually took between 20 and 40 thousand virtual years to win, with the "luckiest" (fastest) occurrence of about 3 or 4 hundred runs was a miraculous hit just inside four thousand years.
Unmathematically speaking, the advantage is infinitesimally shy of a complete fix.