Lottery losers

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Lori Anderson’s article, “We’ve all been Lottery winners – well, up to a point” (Perspective, 24 November), was totally bereft of analysis and as shallow as the Lottery itself. To take up a few points:

First, John Major’s statement that “the country is going to be a lot richer because of the Lottery” is total nonsense.

The Lottery does not create wealth, but merely redistributes it capriciously. In fact, as it is non-productive, the resources spent on running it actually make the country poorer.

Second, it is true that the Lottery is, in effect, a tax (albeit voluntary) on the ignorant and poor, and it is therefore regressive.

Rich people do not play the Lottery – they do not need to, and instead choose to invest in productive activities via stocks and shares (banks have been an exception).

Third, Lori Anderson says that over 20 years £53 billion has been paid out in winnings and £33bn has been spent on “good causes”.

She does not mention the hefty whack of profits taken by the Lottery company.

Nor does she mention that the “good causes” are selected by the “great and good” who are totally unelected, nor does she mention how the Lottery was raided for the London Olympics, to the detriment of the rest of the country.

Fourth, the Lottery is insidious in the economic damage it does. It encourages the idea that the way to get rich is by gambling, and not by education, hard work, saving and investment.

Furthermore, the “good causes” should be supported out of general taxation by governments elected on a manifesto, and not chosen arbitrarily by an unelected group.

Thus the Lottery is corrosive in its effects not only on the economy, but also on democracy itself. It is the modern equivalent of Juvenal’s comment that “bread and circuses” were used to keep the Roman population politically sedated.

Colin McAllister

South Street

St Andrews