Problems With the Lottery That Should Be Addressed by Lawmakers and the Public
A lottery is a method of giving out money or prizes by chance. It is an extremely popular activity in the United States, with many people playing each week. It contributes billions of dollars to state budgets each year. However, it is also a dangerous and addictive activity. The odds of winning are very low and some people end up losing more than they gain. While the majority of players understand this fact, they continue to play hoping that they will become the winner. The lottery has several problems that should be addressed by legislators and the public.
In the short story The Lottery, Shirley Jackson describes a village that holds an annual lottery. The prize is death. The villagers believe this is necessary to keep order in their community. Jackson demonstrates how evil human beings can be, even in small, peaceful looking places. She also reveals the hypocrisy of the villagers.
A man named Old Man Warner is a conservative force in the story. He explains that the lottery was originally meant for a different purpose. The villagers follow this tradition because it is what they have always done. Old Man Warner also explains that the lottery has a connection to the harvest. He says, “Used to be a saying, ‘Lottery in June, corn will be heavy soon.’” The villagers have been told this for generations and continue to believe it is true.
The villagers in the story all agree that they should not question or change this tradition. They feel that they must continue the lottery in order to maintain order. When someone from a new generation suggests that the lottery should be stopped, they are met with the comment that this is crazy or foolish. Old Man Warner calls them a pack of fools.
This is a classic example of how people will follow outdated traditions, even when they know that it is not in their best interest. It is important to remember that not everyone should be forced into doing something. Society needs to be able to protest an unjust status quo.
Lotteries were once a great way for states to raise funds. During the early post-World War II period, they provided governments with revenue that would allow them to expand their social safety nets without increasing taxes for middle and working class residents. Unfortunately, they have evolved into an industry where jackpots grow to enormous amounts and get a windfall of free publicity on news sites and newscasts. In addition, the more difficult it is to win a prize, the more people will want to buy tickets.
In the early 1960s, New Hampshire, which is famously tax averse, approved the first state-run lottery. The lottery became more popular as states looked for ways to raise money without enraging anti-tax voters. In the 1970s, a lot of states started using the lottery to pay for education and other programs. However, as state budgets grew larger, lottery commissions responded by raising the jackpot size and making it harder to win.