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Powerball, Voting, and Why I Want to Emigrate to Holland 11/30/2012
11/29/2012: So, yesterday was the big Powerball drawing. Something like $539 Million will ultimately be split between a winner in nearby Dearborn, MO, and one in Arizona somewhere. A bunch of other people across the country won $1 Million prizes, and who knows how many won smaller prizes. I, too, dropped $4 for 2 tickets – neither of which had any numbers matching the prize drawing. As I was waiting in line to purchase said tickets, at the local Casey’s store, I realized something both aggravating and disturbing.
The line for Powerball tickets was longer than the line was to vote on the Election Day less than a month ago. True, we had a rush at the polling site when we first opened, and again at lunch time. But, no one waited hours to vote. I think the longest anyone waited at my site was about 45 minutes, according to the voters. Hurray for early voting. What does it say about our society, though, that more people – by orders of magnitude – are willing to stand in a line to drop $2, $10, $100 or more on lottery tickets. The odds to winning the Big Deal were something like 175 million:1. The odds of voting for the winning president were approximately 1:2, giving that third parties were not very well represented in good ole Gardner, KS.
Voting is free, it is participating in our Participatory Democratic Republicsystem of governing. You have earned yourself at minimum the right to protest policies, participated in choosing the people who will choose the President, elected representatives who are supposed to “represent” your interests. Hence the name “representatives.” Sadly, those elected folks seem to think representing the goals, ideas and preferences of their constituencies are merely quaint provincial fairy tales placed on a pedestal. The real work of being in politics is to feather one’s own nest, and that of your cronies, and to ensure that absolutely nothing truly changes to benefit the great amoebic mass of homo sapiens in the country.
Powerball costs money, and gains you generally nothing except a piece of paper to clutter up the floorboards of your car for eons to come. It will sit there along with the soda straw wrappers, used kleenex, and giant piles of cat hair that fell off your shoes. Yet even educated, reasonably intelligent people like myself, who do understand the Lottery is merely a tax for people who are bad at math, stood on line and bought tickets. We did it knowing we were not going to win. We did it knowing it was stupid to even waste the $2 per ticket, when $2 will buy a 1/2 gallon of milk, almost. I can’t even begin to analyze the issues with people who are barely scraping by – like me – living paycheck to paycheck, almost literally flushing money down the toilet. Are we hopeless optimists, willing to wish upon a star, pray to the Diety of our choice, perform endless good luck rituals, whatever, for that 1: 175 million chance the Universe is listening and drops a giant wad of cash in our laps? Or are we just victims of advertising – whether paid, or hyped by our local and national news outlets?
If the latter, why in the world should political parties NOT engage in the tactics we see so prevalent these days. Only 6 companies (SIX) own the vast majority of media American’s come into contact with – newspapers, TV, cable, radio, magazines. The FCC is facing pressure from these companies and their friends to further de-regulate their industry, so companies can further consolidate power and influence, restricting the information Americans are allowed to get. Silvio Berlusconi style, single-handedly controlling access to knowledge, influence and coverage of events.
So, what is the answer? Mandatory voting? Regulation increases, rather than decreases, to ensure small and independent media has a chance? Overturning the Citizens UnitedSupreme Court decision, which ruled Corporations are people, money is speech, and thereby selling our Country to the oligarchs like the Koch Brothers and Rupert Murdoch? All the above, in my humble opinion (go to Movetoamend.org to see more on this topic). Because, Dear Reader, losing $4 on the Powerball is not, in fact, equal in importance to the future of our nation and our children.
What would I have done with the money, had I been that lucky soul hit by lightning? After taking the lump sum payout, I would pay my fair share of taxes on the winnings. I would have set up off shore accounts to shelter the remaining funds, ensured trust funds would care for my children and loved ones for eternity, and then moved to the Netherlands where I can smoke dope and gad about Europe in the grand old style. I’d have done so because the vulture capitalists and the banksters already own our country, our government and our futures.
Those of us who call ourselves Progressives cannot hope to out perform them financially, to influence the future in a meaningful way, so long as “conservatism” means favoring the rich, powerful and elite ruling class in all legislation and policy. Progressives, or the “little people” as we may be called in the right wing dialect, are simply little cogs that allow the great machine of servicing the powerful to continue. Our country may well be doomed, if the banksters, the right wing religious fundamentalists, the so-called “Tea Partiers”, and the other far right fringe factions continue to dominate our state houses, our cities and local government, and the highest echelons of power. Electing a so-called Democratic president, who is actually more of a moderate, centrist Reagan Republican, only forestalls the inevitable. It might, at best, allow us to make the tiniest of dams to hold back the inevitable tide of change. I prefer to watch the collapse of the Dream that was America from a comfy seat I’ve got picked out in a much more liberal country.
I’ll probably be able to play Lottery from there, too.