February 3, 2007

Lotteries, drugs, power

The front page of this morning's Journal has three articles that strike me as important to Dryden, if not focused on it.

There's a set of articles on the New York State Lottery, with one on lottery scholarships and one on two Newfield winners of those scholarships. Dryden schools received a little over 7% of their funds in 2006 from the lottery, while Ithaca schools have been closer to 4%. The lottery raises about $2.2 billion per year for education, but that's about 32% of the money the lottery takes in. (Prizes are 56%; the other 12% goes to commissions and expenses.)

$2.2 billion sounds great, and a lot of people seem to content to treat the lottery as a tax on those who are bad at math. The people who might otherwise be paying taxes buy a lot fewer lottery tickets than they would have paid out in taxes, and those spending a lot on lottery tickets seem to let their dreams lead them into a losing game.

I know the lottery's public relations crew is busy with scholarships and talk of education, but let's face it - the lottery works as a massively regressive tax. Politicians seem to support it because the thought of making up that funding through other means is just too much to deal with, so they stay content with a system that takes advantages of the longings people have for a better life and breaks into their wallet.

I know it won't be popular, except maybe with people waiting in line at gas stations while other customers choose their games, but I'd really like to see New York State abolish its lottery. If we want to have gambling, find other ways to do it, and regulate it.

There's an article on the press conference Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and Tompkins County District Attorney Gwen Wilkinson held to celebrate indictments of 32 people arrested a few weeks ago, including two in the Town of Dryden. The indictments address two alleged drug rings bringing cocaine from New York City to Tompkins County.

On the power front, the question is electrical power. In 2008, NYSEG is planning to install real-time electric meters which keep track of energy used at a given time. The good news is that we might be able to reduce power usage when it's at highest demand by charging people more for it then, and less other times. The bad news is that I don't trust NYSEG or the Voice Your Choice suppliers to get this right.

(And will these be able to run in reverse? Could I make more money with a solar panel that feeds energy into the grid while everyone wants it for air-conditioning?)

Posted by simon at February 3, 2007 11:07 AM in , ,
Note on photos


Mary Ann said:

Oh, look! We agree about the lottery. It's an incredible regressive tax. I've tried to look at the purchase of a lottery ticket as entertainment. And I've tried to look at it as a charitable donation. Either way, it's a bad buy.

Incidentally, recently I was polled by phone about the lottery and I was able to voice my negative opinion. I should look for the results of that poll.