The Lottery and Reverse Redistribution

I recently read a Salon article by Natasha Lennard drawing attention to the statistical tendency for lottery tickets to be purchased in quite disproportionate numbers by the poorest in society. The article brings up several interesting statistics–households that earn $13,000 or less in the United States spend an average of 9% of their income on lottery tickets, people who feel poor buy twice as many lottery tickets as those who do not, and those earning less than $40,000 in South Carolina make up 54% of the state’s lottery players despite only constituting 28% of its total population. This brings forward to my mind the question of whether or not it is ethical to permit the poor to voluntarily give significant portions of their income to the government so that statistically negligible numbers of them might get extremely lucky and hit it rich.

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