“The Program”

What would you say about a proposed program that would take money from the poor and use it to fund college scholarships for middle class kids?  Now wait a minute and hear me out.  The results of this program could be really good.  For instance, what if I told you it would help make sure millions of kids could get needed scholarships to further their education?  Kids that would have had to take out loans otherwise, and who knows how long it would have taken them to pay it back.  “But, taking money from the poor?!” You might say.

Well, what if I told you that this program to take money from the poor and give it to the middle class would not be forced on anyone, but be completely voluntary?  The government would not take money by force from the poor and pass it on.  They would do it voluntarily.  You’re probably shaking your head and thinking I’m nuts.  “That would NEVER happen!”

Now, what if I told you this program is already in place, is accepted and even celebrated by society?  This “program” that annually takes millions from the poor to fund college for the middle class has a name: The Lottery.

Statistics show that the vast majority of money spent on the lottery comes from those with the least amount to spare.  Dave Ramsey describes it this way: “The lottery is a tax on poor people and people who can’t do math.”  It is a scheme that makes a huge amount of money for the people who set it up, while helping to keep the poor from rising from poverty.  On its face, it is insidious, even despicable.  Which is why the lottery folks give so much of it to a cause people find noble: education, and why they make such a big deal about it.

I recently heard a commercial talking about how successful the “program” has been in one particular state, how much money it has raised for education, and how much good it has done.  “Everybody wins!” the commercial said.  Except the poor, who gave up money they couldn’t afford in hopes of getting out of their circumstance.  At the end, the ad gave a slogan:  “Encouraging imagination, furthering education.”  Imagination that by gambling what little you have that you’ll strike it rich.  How sad.

The “program” is real.  But it doesn’t have to continue.  Think we can do better than such a “program”?  Me too.