I didn’t win the mega super jackpot lottery. But I didn’t expect to win. I didn’t buy a ticket.

Poverty Tax
By Flickr: Destinys Agent CC-BY-NC

Maybe I’m too poor or not poor enough — I’ve often heard the lottery called a “poor man’s tax”. It hurts me to see people spend money they really don’t have on something that’s, charitably, a long shot, less charitably, a “stupid tax”.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia are amongst the poorest states in the nation, with poverty levels of 16.5%, 17.9%, and 12.6%, respectively. Yet they consistently lead the nation annually in sales of lottery products per capita.

via How State Governments Use the Lottery System to Target
Indigent Demographics – Yahoo! Voices – voices.yahoo.com

I am so grateful that Tennessee’s lottery benefits college students, but did state legislators set out to take advantage of the low-income demographic when they brought the lottery to Tennessee?

I remember, not long after lottery tickets first went on sale, watching a couple purchase tickets at a convenience store in Trenton. They were young, and the woman had a baby on her hip. They had $40 in cash, bought two packs of cigarettes, a half gallon of milk, $20 in scratch off tickets, and “the rest in gas”. I heard the young woman ask the man, “Do you think you can buy enough gas to get to work this week?” Sigh.