Tuesday, January 29, 2013

North Carolina Republicans Might Deny Right to Buy Lottery Tickets to Those on Welfare

The Dismal Political Economist Agrees! – And Would Take It Even Further

Radical Republicans have captured the government of North Carolina, which is unusual since the state is somewhat moderate in its politics.  Of course they had tremendous help from the Democrats, who lack state wide leaders and are largely in disarray.  So radical legislation, here we come.

But surprisingly the North Carolina Republicans have proposed something that even moderates and progressive can agree with.  They might ban lottery sales to those who receive welfare benefits.

No You Are Not a Winner - But Come Back and Play Again

State lawmakers are discussing draft legislation that would prohibit lottery retailers from knowingly selling tickets to customers who receive public assistance, such as food stamps, or are in bankruptcy, Pat Gannon at the Insider reports. “We’re giving them welfare to help them live, and yet by selling them a ticket, we’re taking away their money that is there to provide them the barest of necessities,” said Rep. Paul “Skip” Stam, R-Wake.

Of course there are practical problems here,

He acknowledged it would be difficult for lottery clerks to know whether players get government help. But he suggested that in obvious cases, such as when customers pay for groceries with food stamps, they shouldn’t be allowed to buy lottery tickets at the same time.

But if Republicans would just go further and ban lottery sales for all residents than that would solve the implementation problem.   Lottery tickets are not gambling, the state will always win. And about the best that can be said for state lottery programs are that they are a tax on stupidity, and in theory the more you tax something the less of it you have. 

But lottery sales tend to be a regressive tax, so banning them altogether is probably good policy.  And maybe the state can deal with that ‘stupidity’ problem with better education, which would be a benefit to all.

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