Did you see this in today’s paper (scroll down to the second item)?

With the Powerball jackpot at $340 million,
the executive director of the state lottery is encouraging South
Carolinians to play the numbers responsibly.

Aw, man, I went and blew the joke! I should have set it up first, and then hit you with the punch line.

Oh, well. I guess I’ll have to face the fact that Ernie’s the comedian around here, not me. If it had been me, I would have come up with something lame about urging fish to do their best to stay dry, or curing alcoholism by urging drunks just to have one or two drinks when their jones is upon them. Neither of those works. I just don’t have Ernie’s timing, or exquisite sense of irony.

I love it when he brags about all the scholarship money the lottery provides — always neglecting to mention that Jim Hodges vetoed a bill that would have provided the scholarships without a lottery. (Why? Because he wanted a lottery. Why? Because he was assured that was his ticket to re-election. Worked really well, didn’t it? He’s gone, but we’re still stuck standing in line in convenience stores behind sad losers "playing responsibly.")

Of course, Ernie is a comedic midget compared to the genius who came up with calling the state-run numbers racket the "Education Lottery." That one makes us laugh until we cry, every time. People keep playing the "education" lottery, which means they never learn. If they did, no more lottery. That’s some catch, that Catch-22.

10 thoughts on “Har-de-har-har-HAR

  1. Steve

    Do you have a plan to eliminate the lottery
    and provide the same revenue stream WITHOUT raising taxes?
    Would you prefer these “sad losers” be playing illegal video poker instead? Do you have any real data on how many people are abusing the lottery who would not have gambled the same money away illegally? It’s not a issue of supply, it’s an issue of demand.
    I’ll believe The State is interested in
    the welfare of the citizenry when it makes a policy to not print ads for wine and beer outlets. Why not start there with your
    plan to save the universe?

  2. Brad Warthen

    I’m not following your logic. The State will accept advertising from the lottery as well. That has nothing to do with me. Editorial policy does not influence advertising, and advertising does not influence editorial policy. That’s intentional.
    There’s no other way for a newspaper to be a fair observer — unless you and more than a hundred thousand others are willing to pay enough to read the paper to make up for the advertising (which constitutes the vast majority of newspaper revenue, which is what finances the news and editorial departments and the purchase of ink and newsprint).
    So far, I haven’t seen that model work for a general-circulation newspaper. But I HAVE seen governments meet their obligations to the people without trying to scam them.
    And yes, I would pay for the scholarships with either tax increases or cuts in other programs. That’s assuming, of course, that one considers them to be worth it. It’s a matter of setting priorities. If you consider something to be worth doing and it costs money, you either dig more deeply into your pockets, or you give up paying for something else that is a lower priority, and get the money that way.
    What you don’t do is try to bilk the money out of other people. And that’s what running a numbers racket is.
    As for video poker — nobody fought video poker harder than I did. But you know what? The lottery is worse. The first was a bunch of sleazy private operators ripping people off. What we have now is the state doing the same thing. And that is about as inimical to the concept of good government as you can get.

  3. David

    I guess the good part of the lottery is that a lot of folks that can’t afford to do so- will be paying for my son’s education. At least I won’t have to do it.
    Of course, I would have been perfectly happy to assist my son in paying for his education. But that is, I guess, not the point.
    The lottery is a scam. It is a good one though. Few scams have as many people that voluntarily keeping ridding their pockets of money, thinking they are going to be rich, all the while I get the benefit from it and I never have played it even once. That is a pretty good deal – for folks like me.

  4. Dave

    David, I see Brad’s blog doesn’t reserve blogger names uniquely. I usually post as David but you and I have different emails. Or I have an evil twin out there. Anyway, “playing” the stock market is also a form of gambling. The State has always been adamantly against the lottery or any gambling for that matter. I think The State should go after much bigger fish than gambling, like issues such as why the state economy is not progressing enough, why the legislators are so satisfied with the status quo that they will not support their own governor’s programs as just two examples. But anyway, from this point on, I will become Dave, in the express interest of averting identity theft, until the next Dave comes along, I guess.

  5. David

    I don’t see the stock market as much of a gamble – at least not anything like forking over bucks at the local convenience store with the odds being almost astromonical that you will win anything of significance at all.
    Now I guess you could day trade (the equal to playing the lottery at the local gas station in my opinion) but that isn’t what the vast majority of people that are in the stock market do. The majority of Americans in the stock market use it as a tool for retirement and historical returns say that is a good, safe bet to help you reach your long term finanical goals.
    Playing the lotto at the Pantry doesn’t help most people reach their finanical goals.

  6. Nathan

    The “Education” lottery is scam that was created with a poorly written law and exists in a poorly run fashion. A quick look at thier annual report shows that they spent $7 MILLION on advertising this past year. Why do they do so many stupid commercials? They are terrible and there have been studies that show they are ineffective. Further, they “sponsored” the fair this past week? Why? Sponsors should be large companies wanting to give back and build goodwill in the community. There is no reason for a government entity to be funding the fair (an event that has become so expensive that most can’t afford to do much there anyway). Gov. Sanford should undo the sham that Hodges put into place. This is a disaster and is hurting South Carolina.

  7. Dave

    The lottery is one way to get liberals to actually participate in contributions to the government. In most cases, liberals expound about how the government needs more money to do this or that (like buying a new fleet of school buses) while at the same time promoting the idea that the “rich” of society should pay for these ideas. Many of these same “rich” liberals hire teams of tax lawyers to make sure their taxes are at the bare minimum. So, the lottery is one program that is socio economically class blind and a tax lawyer won’t help anyone (until they win at least).

  8. Lee

    How to provide scholarships without the lotter or a tax increase:
    1. Hire some real managers for the colleges, who control the cost increases, and actually reduce tuition to what they should be, in relation to income growth from 1970.
    2. Get rid of the large part of state government which is useless at best, and usually corrupt.
    3. Abolish the state retirement system, which is underfunded anyway. Pay the workers we need a fair salary, and make them take responsibility for their own retirement.
    4. Phase out Medicaid. If people don’t want to work, they should move to a state with more welfare.
    The lottery is no more of a rip off than Social Security, and will bankrupt a lot fewer people.

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