Yes, even the Mafia lets their victims keep more of their own money than that 75% I mention. Is it just me who thinks all this hoopla about the $656 million lottery jackpot won by three happy go lucky "working class Joes" who shop at convenience stores is silly at best or government sanctioning of wrongful behavior at best?
Anybody besides me who realizes that over 75% of those "winnings" are coming from poor and/or stupid people and going to government and as a "bribe" to the local convenience store distributors of their "product"?
What in the world is the government - whether it is state or local - doing in the business of gambling?
Why are local retail establishments getting a major "cut" of the lottery winnings, from money turned over by people hoping to "earn a better life" for the purchase of a $1 lottery ticket?
The truth is that you have a better chance of getting into a car, bus, train or airplane accident, or being struck by lightning, than to win any lottery.
Nonetheless, a full 1/3 of our population in America think that winning the lottery is their only way to become financially secure in their lifetime. Most of the rest who buy lottery tickets and gamble to make money think it is reasonable to "buy a chance" at a life changing win.
If ever there was a place to "investigate" somebody under the RICO Statute (Racketeer Influenced, Corrupt Organizations) this may very well be it.
The "racket" is government and their co-conspirators, including the people writing all these fawning stories about the phony "$656 million lottery jackpot" who have a racket going here which takes so much money from the poor and the stupid and gives them so little back of their own money.
For liberals and their allies who lurk within our Red State and conservative cause ranks I am sure this will not be a popular topic so you might wish to just move along since the subject of "right and wrong" seems to really provoke you.
Or perhaps my reminder that your attack on me will only boost my ratings and consequent extra attention to this writing (for which I would thank you!).
Every lead TV news story and front page newspaper headline in the past few days seemed to be all about the $656 million, largest "jackpot" in American history. The reports bordered on mass hysteria with long lines at convenience stores of people anxiously waiting their turn to buy a "chance" at all this wealth.
For the first time in my life, I have been considering and reflecting on the question: so what's wrong with gambling, what is that bothers me about it?
Consider this for a start: who is the real winner with all that money changing hands in the past week few days?
Those who are math challenged - whether out of ignorance, choice, stupidity or all of the above, may be shocked, but out of the $656 billion lottery "prize" the three announced "big winners" get at most $213 million if they spread it out over 26 annual installments (no they do not earn extra interest by waiting - they simply avoid more taxes by so spreading it out and waiting for 26 years for their last payment).
If these three lottery winners take their share of the announced $656 million lottery jackpot and run then they only get $105.1 million.
So the very first thing to figure out about gambling - especially when the government is involved - is that the real winner is the government, not the poor, the stupid and the math challenged who seem oblivious to this basic math when they provide all that money to make the $656 million "jackpot."
Aside from who is getting all that money - something which liberals usually get frantic about when somebody profits from voluntary buying and selling activity in America who is NOT the government, there are other reasons people should question gambling. First, a brief backgrounder.
Gambling wasn't always legal in America. The first modern state lottery was established in New Hampshire 1964.
Earlier, Nevada legalized the first casino in 1931 and those who have watched any Gangster movies know who made the biggest profits from that activity (any other Godfather fans out there?).
Today, gambling seems to be the rage and is a growth industry all over America -any Donald Trump fans out there? Horse and dog racetracks and casinos, state government lotteries with massive ad campaigns. Indian gambling with their own special sets of rules (ie. virtually "anything goes" for the "Indian Nation."). Riverboat gambling in six states. A genuine "growth industry" with no end in sight.
In fact, all states except Hawaii and Utah have some form of gambling that is legal. Gambling added up to $500 billion of "bets" in 1995, it skyrocketed to $17 billion in 1979 and has been increasing every year since, especially since government at state and local levels have discovered this new way to tax poor and stupid people who voluntarily surrender so much of their disposable income.
Government always extols the benefits of gambling by telling you how they spend their take. That is like a Mafia don telling you of his donations to charity - it doesn't alter the right or wrong of what is going on, and his "business expenses" in this case are those charitable donations.
Here in Pennsylvania, the government website explains that their lottery, with ticket sales starting in 1972, "benefits programs for the Commonwealth's older citizens" - and the total take in all these years is $21.5 billion. Yes, billion with a B.
But of course at the top of their page they explain that their "powerball" "annuity (if you wait for annual payments) is $70 million total. Yes, million. Or a cash payment of $42,600,000. And "powerball" is just one of the "lottery games" their website sells you on.
People who are math challenged don't look beyond headlines like that but are already on the way to their convenience store to make their purchase.
In fact when you think about my central point here - that people who do not seem to understand the word "odds" are the ones who provide the most money for gambling, and that means predominantly stupid or poor people who are being victimized.
These are the same people who also "contribute" an inordinate and disproportionate amount of their money to government through the purchase of booze, cigarettes and gasoline - all of which are, arguably, "voluntary" activities but which in reality are major income producers for government.
Yes move aside Mafia - today's government at state and local level seems to be making more money from the "sin" activities than you ever dreamed of in the 1920's years of Prohibition. It appears they have "muscled out" the rival gangs and taken over completely.
Yes I realize that you can also make the case that society's most hopeless people - those without any dream or goal or hope - are the ones who provide all of this money.
But my contention is that the words "stupid" (ie. foolish?) and "poor" are very much overlapping here and we don't need to be unnecessarily redundant.
Those who gamble, I would bet, also smoke cigarettes by a much higher proportion than those who do not, and are more likely to be much fatter and also speak less literate English. The redundancies are irrelevant to my central point here.
This is a rip off of the poorest people in our society, the people least able to think logically.
And the party ripping them off and profiting from what can clearly qualify as a RICO conspiracy is identifiable: it is our government and those who profit from this gambling.
Not to mention they are relatively inelastic income sources for government - people who have to go to work in a car each day, who are addicted to cigarettes, who do a lot of drinking, and who gamble - usually cut OTHER things out of their budget (even food, incredibly enough) rather than cut back on these ways of spending their diminishing money supply as inflation continues to diminish their buying power year after year.
Sadly, these are also all forms of "regressive" taxes - where people who make the least amount of money in our society and can afford it the least, end up paying the MOST to government - in raw numbers as well as as a percentage of their disposable revenue (ie. after deducting out rent, food and other fixed monthly expenses).
So, whether you are gambling, or drinking, smoking or buying gas for your car, these are all methods of taxation, methods by which the government collects an enormous amount of money from people, especially lower class people, poor people and as I have said, at least in the case of gambling, mathematically challenged (or stupid?) people.
And I submit, this is massively disproportionate. People who can do the math, don't gamble as much as those who do not.
People who are major investors in the stock market, already HAVE their opportunity to do LEGAL gambling and as lousy as the odds appear to be sometimes it beats the math of gambling.
People who are upper income, middle class and who are business owners, simply DO NOT gamble as much as the poor and the stupid.
Shouldn't those concerned about "the poor" and the downtrodden of society, be outraged by this victimizing of poor and stupid people by the RICO conspiracy of big media, big government and convenience store owners all dividing up the 75% and HIGHER share of the millions surrendered to their control by ignorant poor people?
Of course, there is some sharing of the loot collected in the case of gambling. That is why I label this a RICO gambling conspiracy - a corrupt alliance that benefits "on the backs of the poor" to use the in-vogue jargon out there in Occupy Wall Street LaLa Land.
The 7-Eleven which sold one of the winning lottery tickets is reported to be earning the seller's bonus of $100,000 (gross, ie. before all the taxes). Not to mention their 15% commission on sales to losers and winner alike.
Reports are that 35 percent of the winnings go to state governments - their share of the loot for tickets sold to their serfs in their Barony, much like the days of the King and his land grants to Barons and noblemen. And, 15 percent goes to retailer commissions and the inevitable "lottery expenses" (all those "officials" and all of that advertising cost a bundle).
And lets not forget the minimum tax by the federal government which starts at the 25 percent federal withholding tax. So there you already have what is rarely if ever reported - because it would "rain on the pro-gambling" parade to report it: 35 + 25 + 15 = 75% goes to NOT YOU who put the money INTO the lottery.
Lets try to remember that the people they report as "winning" and then paying the minimum 25% federal income tax (no reports about all of the other income taxes, depending on the state and local jurisdiction of course) are the math challenged in our society for the most part.
When did they ever pay the minimum tax?
They always pay the MAXIMUM because they do not know how to save, invest and shield their income by owning their own business or stocks, etc. So I would happily wager (if I were a betting man) that the "winners" never pay a "minimum" tax of only 25% to the IRS, that is a laugh.
Most of that money is spent, and not invested, so they should truthfully STOP reporting this "minimum" tax and accurately report the 35 or 45% of more in federal taxes paid.
If I am accurate in this speculation then a lot more than 75% of the "jackpot winnings" are taken away by government and their fellow RICO conspirators.
So the happy 158 people who "won" $250,000 each, and everyone who got a "share" of the $656 million lottery, are rarely in the headlines as winning a TINY, SMALL FRACTION of $656 million whether it is 25% or only 10 or 15% of the often repeated, bigger numbers.
You have to actually be a winner to find out the shocking truth - that the amount they reported you "winning" on TV and newspapers, is actually NOT the amount you are going to get.
No, the real WINNER in all of this hoopla is not the folks who have the "winning" lottery ticket. It is the government who "wins."
And they got so much of those winnings from poor people who so often, foolishly buy things from convenience stores all the time, rather than at 1/3 the price for their groceries (and lets not forget: their cigarettes, beer and booze) at the neighborhood supermarket.
I am not saying all poor people are stupid, although you can count on liberals to twist around what I am saying. Instead, I am suggesting - unarguably I believe - that stupid behavior in the marketplace is most often rewarded by poverty.
The only wealth you will find at an "Occupy Wall Street" protest is that which was handed down to them from their parents or from a government welfare check or both.
And what is with all the poor (foolish? stupid?) people who shop at convenience stores all the time?
We should be praying for them, trying to educate them about alternative lifestyle and shopping choices - not actively selling them lottery tickets to collect more money for the government.
Can you imagine if they shut down all the convenience stores in America and stopped selling cigarettes, beer and booze and lottery tickets? Not to mention the massively LARGER amount of taxes they collect from people with the prices of everything double or triple what the supermarket down the road would sell it for?
The lost tax revenues if somehow all convenience stores were closed, gleaned from poor and/or stupid people would SKYROCKET the national, state and local debt.
Perhaps the motto of the lottery advertising should be "God bless poor stupid people, for they voluntarily give us so much of the little money they have."
But I wanted to share with you the most basic "right and wrong" of this issue. In this space it is my purpose to write about and share something so very often missed even in the conservative world very often.
That idea so often missed even by many conservatives and most especially by the secular dominated major news media, is that "right and wrong" can and should be considered when evaluating public policy questions, of which Gambling is certainly one.
It is still being celebrated (though now challenged in court) in Pennsylvania as the "2012 Year of the Bible" because this quaint old idea of moral right and the original "book of virtues," motivated our American founding fathers to undertake the work of creating this Republic and its founding documents.
I hoist my pen in defense of their idea today: right and wrong should ALWAYS be considered when you are looking at legislation and law.
In Matthew 7:15-20, Jesus spoke of our having the ability to know right from wrong in a very simple way: a tree is good or bad, according to its fruits.
Regardless of whether you agree that so spoke the Son of God, or simply a good writer whose Testaments inspired the American founders, that brings me back to today's question: what are the fruits of gambling?
It is one thing for the government to legalize an activity that done in excess causes problems - such as drinking for example. It is entirely another thing for the government itself to advertise, promote and benefit from that activity - as it does with gambling.
The concept of stewardship is abundant, clear and repetitive in the Bible.
We are given dominion over the earth but as the parable by Jesus Christ about the Talents (Matthrew 25:14-30) illustrates, what we do with the talent we are given, is how we will be judged by our Master.
It is the work we do, the good we produce, the effort we put into a task, that takes the talent that God gave us and multiplies it.
The steward who buried the talent he was given in the ground, who did nothing with his gift, is the one in that story who is thrown out of the house by the Master, while those who produced something with their gift, are praised and rewarded.
The phrase stolen and perverted by President Obama, popularized by the Spiderman comics and movies, is "to whom much is given, much is expected." Obama uses that phrase to claim that "much is expected" means he should take more of YOUR money if you have any, and give it to those who DO NOT have money.
This bumper-stickerized slogan actually has its origin in that Parable of the Talents.
President Obama's use of the phrase was to attempt to justify socialism in America, taking from one group, and giving to the target group expecting that this dependency on him and government will create goodwill that will be rewarded with votes in perpetuity by the new dependent class he is building and enlarging.
Exactly as is being done here in Pennsylvania, where they argue that all this money they collect then goes to the worthy cause of "benefiting" older people.
President Obama's goal to reward people who did nothing to earn their winnings is not in any significant way a big improvement over taking money from foolish, stupid or poor people (or all of the above) and giving it to the undeserving "lucky" one because he somehow "earned" it by purchasing a lottery ticket for $1 or more.
This Parable is totally perverted by President Obama's street shock troops, the aging 1960's leftists of old who have "community organized" today's young people under a new name, "Occupy Wall Street" or the latest incarnation of "kill the rich and eat their brains" and "government power uber alles".
The idea of investing and earning - as taught by Jesus in his Parable of the Talents, is anathema to the chattering classes in America who demonize "the rich," "the Jews," "the bankers," and "the corporations" at every turn, while praising those who have accomplished nothing, earned nothing but demand everything.
And just as the hero of the Parable of the Talents is the one who takes his talent and produces the most from it, so too we are called to do in real life.
Gambling with our money is not good stewardship of what we have been given, or of what we have earned using the Talent we have been given as an unearned gift.
In fact, Gambling - whether you win or lose - is like a slap in the face of our Creator.
For what the Creator gave us at birth was His gift to us.
And what we EARN or PRODUCE with this gift of talent in our life by the choices we make is OUR gift back to him.
Gambling is an affront to our maker and it doesn't make any difference whether it is successful or losing gambling.
If our purpose is to make money from Gambling then it is a sin against our Creator and acting as ingrates to He who gave us this precious gift.
Saying that is not as the liberals always accuse Christians, an "attempt to force my morality on others." It is my opinion and those who study His word, know this to be true. And exercising MY freedom of speech to say and write this is NOT "forcing" anything on anyone.
The attempts to SILENCE, demean and discredit those of us who ever speak of values in public policy IS an assault on freedom.
And, in gambling any "winnings" or "earnings" as some call it, is most certainly not a reward for the good we did with the talent we were given as a gift.
It is putting our money at the mercy of a coin toss- at best since the odds are so clearly better if it was merely a coin toss that was involved when one does gamble.
Gambling is also the manifestation of avarice, the "excessive or insatiable desire for wealth or gain" (Merriam-Webster).
Avarice is a "capital vice" according to Catholic teaching. Goods and property is not an object to live for but a tool to make use of in living a "rational and harmonious life."
Avarice is not to be confused with working hard or working smart in order to make a better living and provide good things for one's family. Gambling is avarice because in no way does it reward the practitioner with a just reward for his productive work.
It is just the opposite.
The gambler is one who hopes to get "something for nothing" - to put a few dollars on the table for lottery tickets and then walk away with hundreds of thousands or even a million dollars or more.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church enlightens that "the tenth commandment forbids avarice arising from a passion for riches and their attendant power."
"Gambling" is not specifically named as a vice in the text of the Bible. Nor does the word itself appear either in the 10 Commandments nor in the positive affirmation of Christian teaching - the literal "word of Jesus himself" called "The Beatitudes."
But it is very instructive to understand some key passages and what they teach us about gambling.
The Christians' First Beatitude is often confused with poverty but very clearly can be applied to "blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
The phrase "poor in spirit" confuses some who have never studied it - and does NOT refer to "poor people" in terms of financial wealth, nor to people who are simply despondent.
The First Beatitude refers to humility and those who are not so self centered, arrogant and focused on making money and success and asserting their own selfish short term needs and urgent short term appetites to the exclusion of all other more important considerations in our lives.
Instead, the First Beatitude calls for us to be aware of our own imperfections and our sin nature, aware that we can overcome sin with the undeserved gifts of grace and the gift of salvation and the blood of our Lord which gives us remission from sin, redemption and eternal happiness.
The First Beatitude contradicts the assertion of the anti-Christian haters that the followers of Jesus and of the Old Testament God only have the negatives of the 10 Commandants with their list of "Thou Shalt Not's."
We are pointed with the Beatitudes in the direction of "thou shalts" to the exclusion of impediments - and I submit that gambling is a major impediment to the blessing offered to those who do as we were commanded by our Lord and who seek out this humble spirit.
Most important, the Beatitude about the "poor in spirit" directs us most clearly to be aware of our own imperfections and that we can only overcome these through the grace of God and a choice to place in Him our hope for the future.
Gambling by people who are ignorant of this command - this Instruction for good living - is an activity with a penalty for those who participate, regardless of the fact that a few win for the many thousands who always lose.
Those who submit to the Alcoholics Anonymous famous "12 step program" know very well that their most successful program to overcome that addiction - which Gamblers and Drug Addicts Anonymous mimics - is in step one, the honest and open admission that alone, each of us is powerless to overcome our problem and that we must appeal to a higher power and the support of others to become truly free.
God bless all of those who undertake that first step to regain control of their life and to make use of their Talents, for YOURS will be the Kingdom of Heaven when you begin by acknowledging you are and wish to be, the "poor in spirit."
In so many ways gambling - the quest to gain something for nothing - is the very opposite of humility and submission to what God tells us is the way to build a better you.
Gambling is the quest to build a better life for a few dollars - to gain something totally unearned as the result of "luck."
It is one thing to play an innocent "bingo game" or to play cards for pennies, nickels and dimes as many good Christian families do. No one thinks their life will be improved for the better because of this, and the fellowship and enjoyment of a game is all that is involved, very similar to throwing the dice in an enjoyable game of the board game Monopoly.
Such Monopoly game or "bingo game" playing is not to be confused with the pathetic wretches that one can see late night at Casinos gambling away money they can barely afford as they hope desperately that they will "win" big and suddenly have a better life.
We are called upon as Christians to "go forth" and teach others about our faith so that we can call them to be disciples of our Lord. That means we are called upon to set a good example.
It does not mean Christians are not sinners - that is a myth that according to liberal-left teachings, excludes Christians from the public square and from having any say about public policy.
The question is not whether Christians sin - for those who know even a little bit about the subject are aware that only One man who walked this earth was sinless.
The rest of us who attempt every day to practice Christian behavior, do succumb to sin but are given the choice to stop, to overcome our sin nature, to walk away from the negative, soul-dooming behavior that is called sin.
Grace and the gift of Jesus on the Cross for the remission of our sins when we seek Redemption, are unearned gifts.
But these are also choices for each of us to make not as members of class or group but as individuals with the return on this gift a happier life during our life on earth, an easier ability to handle adversity and eternal salvation. What Catholics in our mass say to each other: Peace be with you.
Christian behavior does not mean we can look at wrongful behavior and make justification for that behavior and then practice that behavior. It does not mean we say "well the ends justify the means and it may be wrong but we will give the loot to old people."
It is not a matter of "oh but I am not hurting anyone else" nor is it an issue whether the bad behavior is criminal or a civil offense against another for which we can be sinned.
It is not illegal in America to slander another person but it is a civil offense, for which one can be sued, and which is prohibited in the Old Testament Commandment "thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor."
It also not illegal in America to cheat on your wife.
Doing that doesn't make you a criminal in the eyes of society but, in the eyes of God such behavior is clearly violating the 6th Commandment prohibition, "thou shalt not commit adultery" and the 9th even speaks of the THOUGHT: ""thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife."
On the other hand, "thou shalt not steal" and "thou shalt not murder" are sins against society as well as against God's law and thus, have a criminal penalty attached.
Gambling is wrong but not because it is necessarily a sin against our fellow man.
It is a sin against what God intends for us, it is behavior which is corrupting of our soul and our humanity, and it contradicts the actual command by our Savior to go forth and teach others about our faith.
There is no possibility that someone's gambling can be admired by others, or that an individual who gambles successfully can be held up as a model Christian in the eyes of others.
We cannot listen to the person who gambles and say, "my how wise he is, let us emulate his behavior since he explains it so nicely."
Gambling is avarice, it is a vice, not a virtue, and it is something we hope and pray that our loved ones and those before whom we wish to set an example of good living, would never emulate.
And thus we should never gamble and if we do, we should never attempt to hold that up as model behavior.
When the government itself not only sanctions gambling but even spends our taxpayer dollars to advertise and promote gambling, it is actively promoting an activity which thinking Christians understand is a sin, and is wrong.
It is one thing to violate God's law, to sin, to make mistakes, to fall into sin and be redeemed. It is one thing to practice behavior which in America is legal but is not right.
It is entirely a different thing to use our taxpayer money to actively promote behavior whose only serious defense is "we're making money doing this."
That is the same justification given by those who sin in jails to explain why they did what they were convicted of doing.
Whether it is murder, theft, cheating on your wife, defaming and thereby hurting your neighbor, failing to honor your father or mother, or any other failure to behave in a morally right way is sinful because it is wrong and anyone who has even a rudimentary knowledge of Christianity knows this is true.
But a sin or the failure to behave in a way that earns us a good life on earth, the approbation and admiration of others, good for our family, a more comfortable life and eternal salvation, does not in being sinful, have to be illegal conduct sanctioned by law with criminal penalties.
No doubt, in my condemning gambling today - as thoroughly as I know how - I will if any liberal and/or atheist reads this, earn me their condemnation as an attempt to "legislate morality" even as they continue to support this preying on the poor through a most corrupt and regressive tax.
Gambling is wrong, those who engage in it do nothing we can admire. Gambling should be condemned not just be all Christians but by all good people because it is wrongful behavior undertaken for wrongful reasons and actively promoted by those who benefit at the expense of their victims.
Our government at local or state level should not be involved in gambling.
We should not celebrate the few winners, but pray for the many, many losers who participate in it. The truth about gambling, rarely if ever reported, should be a part of every fair and balanced report about gambling "winners."
It is not sufficient to say "but my conscience does not bother me" on this.
Many women who partake of abortion say that, and some later in life, who choose to learn and then have an "informed conscience" realize what they have done to their own child, repent and are forgiven for what they THEN LATER realize is wrongful or sinful conduct.
An "informed conscience" means that you are aware of the truth.
Gambling is wrong. It is hurtful.
So I won't join in the celebration of this past week nor smile as I read these constant reports about "the jackpot winners."
I urge you to join me in prayer to turn people away from this temptation, placed before us more and more by those who stand to profit on the backs of the poor in this most regressive tax aimed at poor people, stupid people and those who sleep well at night because they are simply ignorant of the truth and unable to do rudimentary arithmetic to calculate their odds.
Whether you share this article, borrow a few ideas in this to share with others, or simply pray for the victims of gambling all of us can do something once we realize what is wrong with Gambling. I hope this helps you to understand and of course, I am sure there are MORE arguments that can be made against gambling but no one can argue that this article is long enough already, and my largest to date. God bless you for reading.
HanoverHenry here on RED STATE is Pat Henry on Facebook, and I'm on the lookout for new friends there. You can also communicate via private mail at Facebook, and I welcome new sources for my articles focusing on the conservative-Christian viewpoint in Pennsylvania. I appreciate your sharing this article elsewhere and only ask that you include this "disclaimer" in any reprints or sharing you do. And I thank those whose information have helped me with some of my reports, including those who do not wish to be quoted by name.
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