CBS News – ARMEN KETEYLAN – Mar 30, 2012
In 2011, more Americans played the lottery than regularly attended church, bringing in $56 billion last year alone.
Revenue from that pie is divided in three ways: About 60 percent goes to prize winners; 15 percent to retailers, marketing and operations; and 25 percent, or about $14 billion, goes back to the states for government services.
Duke professor Charles Clotfelter is the author of a book on state lotteries. “It’s very hard to say that these lottery dollars really make a difference,” he said.
…”The net effect of say earmarked education lottery revenue on education expenditures is close to zero,” said Clotfelter
The other big winner here will be the IRS — the federal tax alone on a lump sum payment in the neighborhood of $100 million.
As far as what happens to folks who win the lottery? CBS News’ research department learned that nine out of 10 burn through their winnings in five years. Go to story
People buy into the lottery, hoping that they will win on a chance number. But win or lose, no one can beat destiny. Winning the lottery, people have afterwards ended up bankrupt. The IRS wins, but dispersal of the money is uneven, and taxpayers who expect it to make a difference for the state have wound up disappointed.
According to the Srimad-Bhagavatam, there are four pillars of religion: truthfulness, mercy, cleanliness and austerity. Now, in Kali Yuga, the age of quarrel and hypocrisy, there is left standing only one pillar, truthfulness, but it is very shaky. To our right and to our left we see corruption and deception—in government, in the corporate environment and even among the religious. Society’s leaders should be wise stewards, exemplary in character and conduct and intolerant of breach of ethics and morality, but US congress members engage openly in insider trading, and the government endorses speculation and gambling, so what kind of truth can we expect from them?
People do not like to be restricted in their sense gratification, but Bhagavatam instructs that for human beings, there are four prohibitions: no eating of meat, fish and eggs, no intoxication, no illicit sex and no gambling. Why? Prabhupada explained that they correspond to the four principles of religion, i.e. meat eating negates austerity, illicit sex negates cleanliness, intoxication negates mercy, and gambling negates truthfulness. These prohibitions are meant to regulate human beings so that they can avoid the sinful reactions that entrap them in the cycle of repeated birth and death. By observing these rules, human beings can keep themselves pure, and the whole society can make progress materially and spiritually. The atmosphere is not at all favorable for cultivating spirituality.
In what way does gambling negate truthfulness, some may be wondering. Prabhupada said that gambling means cheating. It is the attempt to get something for nothing. It is that very mentality among some of the bad apples at the helm of government and Wall Street that has spoiled the economy and politics, depriving many citizens of decent livelihood, their life savings, homes, health care and security for old age. Yes, Goldman Sachs is one of the biggest gambling outfits in the world. Much bigger than the MegaMillions. Wall Street outdoes Las Vegas, Monaco and Macau by far. But smalltime gambling is cheating nonetheless, and people’s lives are destroyed by the one-armed bandits as much as by the state sweepstakes.
People want their senses gratified without restriction, but it is government’s duty to discourage and curtail sinful activities. In these days of campaigning for presidency, candidates put on the appearance of being religious or at least favorable to religion, and some talk against abortion and contraception, against same-sex marriage and so on, but not one of them dares to speak out against eating meat, drinking alcohol, illicit heterosexual relations and gambling. For sure, if they were to talk of imposing the four regulative principles in the form of legislation, they would be laughed out of town, or maybe even lynched. But the way things are going on in our present society is a far cry from how things are supposed to be, according to the Bhagavatam.
If we cannot do anything else, at least we should acknowledge that things are topsy turvy in the world, far apart from the high standard the Bhagavatam set for human civilization. And yes, the Bhagavatam gives directions what is ideal, but it also gives practical directions, and no less relevant today than it was thousands of years ago.
Every day the newspapers and blogs and news broadcasters recite stories of homicide, robbery, police brutality, drug abuse, drug dealing, government officials caught lying, embezzlement of public funds, warmongering, economic collapse, violence among youths, suicide among veterans, bank foreclosures driving the elderly out of their homes, etc. Anyone who reads or hears these stories knows all is not as it should be. Srimad-Bhagavatam, Canto 1, Chapter 5, Text 11: “On the other hand, that literature which is full of descriptions of the transcendental glories of the name, fame, forms, pastimes, etc., of the unlimited Supreme Lord is a different creation, full of transcendental words directed toward bringing about a revolution in the impious lives of this world’s misdirected civilization. Such transcendental literatures, even though imperfectly composed, are heard, sung, and accepted by purified men who are thoroughly honest.”
Honesty is under valued amongst people whose aim in life is enjoyment of the senses, accumulation of bank balance and perpetuation of family and prestige—love, friendship and society. So the transcendentalists are outnumbered. But all revolutions begin with one person. One person can make a difference in the world. That is the meaning of leadership. So if you and I and others want to do something positive for the planet earth, let us save truthfulness, beginning with our own lives.
The following is what Prabhupada had to say on gambling and the state’s duty.
Modern administrators want to banish corruption from the state, but fools as they are, they do not know how to do it. They want to issue licenses for gambling houses, wine and other intoxicating drug houses, brothels, hotel prostitution and cinema houses, and falsity in every dealing, even in their own, and they want at the same time to drive out corruption from the state. They want the kingdom of God without God consciousness. How can it be possible to adjust two contradictory matters? If we want to drive out corruption from the state, we must first of all organize society to accept the principles of religion, namely austerity, cleanliness, mercy and truthfulness, and to make the condition favorable we must close all places of gambling, drinking, prostitution and falsity. These are some of the practical lessons from the pages of Srimad-Bhagavatam. (excerpt from purport, Srimad-Bhagavatam Canto 1, Chapter 17, Texts 43 – 44)