Sunday, June 14, 2015

Peddling that lottery dream, or I feel dirty

I feel dirty.

I was scanning my RSS feed of the CBC's top stories when this title caught my eye: "How to plan your financial future after winning the lottery."

Initially, I just snorted and moved on. But then I stopped. Upset. Irritated. Why is my (old?) national news site wasting my time with this cruft? Surely the portion of Canadian tax dollars used to publish this pipe dream could be better spent? I mean, it turns out that it's a Canadian Press story, so I guess most of the work behind this story is funded by and serving corporate interests, but, still, the CBC is hosting it, right?

Just skimming the OLG site is enough to bring the corners of my mouth down. Again, I feel dirty. I mean, I can't be the only one who feels the glad-hands behind these sorts of statements (emphasis mine):
That is a description of OLG's mandated activities. Beyond that is the scope of our operations and the significant benefit OLG's revenues and our business activities bring to the social and economic life of Ontario. As you journey through different areas of this website, you will find ample evidence of the themes that guide OLG's day-to-day activities: integrity, social responsibility, world-class entertainment, a 'customer first' mindset, safety and security, strong community partnerships and investments, openness and transparency, and pride in history and tradition.
And, digging a little further, to their mission (again, my emphasis):
Second, OLG's net profit goes directly to the Government which uses it to support such services as the operation of hospitals; education, research, prevention and treatment of problem gambling; amateur sport through the Quest for Gold program; and local and provincial charities.
Am I the only one who would like to see the Ontario Government simply fund that stuff directly through tax dollars? I know, it's terribly simplistic, and the lottery has been around for a very long time, but, again, I just feel dirty. Hayek would probably say that the complexities of these problems, and the best means of supporting their solutions, are beyond the comprehension of any one of us; that we need to focus on the abstract indicator of profit to light our way, as it were. (I'm still trying to bottom his economic theories out, including the context surrounding their genesis, and whether the dawn of globalization in the 80s had him qualifying any of it.) But it just seems wrong: funding, and fuelling -- through all sorts of media -- these pipe dreams for the betterment of society.

Ultimately, and, likely, naively, I wish these energies could be applied to efficiently allocating our tax dollars, increasing or decreasing taxation as required.

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