The Lottery and Its Effects on Society

Gambling Dec 5, 2023


The lottery is a common activity in the United States where people pay to enter a drawing for a chance to win a prize. It is a form of gambling and has generated billions in revenue each year for state governments. However, it is not without controversy as many people argue that the lottery does more harm than good. In this article, we will take a closer look at the lottery and discuss its effects on society.

Lotteries have a long history of use, dating back to the Bible and ancient times when they were used for divining fates or land distribution. In modern times, they are typically regulated and organized by the state for public benefit. In the US, the lottery is a major source of revenue for state governments and is used to fund public works such as roads, schools, and parks. However, it is not without controversy and critics argue that the money should be better spent on other public goods.

The main argument that has been used to justify state lotteries is that it provides a “painless” source of revenue. Unlike traditional taxes that can be regressive, where the poor pay more than they should, lottery winnings are based on voluntary choices by the public. Consequently, lottery revenues are relatively low-cost to the state, which makes them an attractive source of money for expanding services and programs. However, this arrangement can be prone to corruption and abuse, with lottery officials and suppliers becoming too dependent on profits; inflating the value of winnings (lottery jackpot prizes are paid out over 20 years, allowing inflation and taxes to dramatically diminish their current value); misleading advertising; etc.

Shirley Jackson’s story The Lottery is an excellent example of the problems with this system. The story takes place in a rural American town where traditions and customs dominate the town’s life. One of the most important of these traditions is the lottery. The town’s residents assemble on the square each week to draw lots for the chance to win a large sum of money. The lottery is a ritual that has been going on for generations and the townspeople feel obligated to continue this practice in order to bring rain and ensure a prosperous harvest.

The Lottery illustrates how human nature can turn even the best of intentions into cruel acts. It also shows that cruelty is not limited to the Third World, as it can be found in our own backyard as well. The mass incarceration of African Americans, the profiling and hate crimes against Muslims after 9/11, and the mass deportation of immigrants are all examples of modern-day scapegoating and discrimination. Despite its idyllic setting, The Lottery proves that the desire to follow authority unquestioningly can lead to terrible consequences, no matter what the setting. The lesson to be learned is that we must always question the decisions made by others, no matter how long-standing or popular they might be.