The Lottery by Shirley Jackson
A lottery is a gambling game in which players pay a small amount of money in exchange for a chance to win a larger sum of money. Lotteries are popular in many countries around the world and have been used to raise funds for a wide variety of public uses. In the United States, most states have lotteries, although some states prohibit them or limit their size. Despite the popularity of lotteries, there are some concerns about their ethical nature. In particular, it is not clear whether the odds of winning are fair and whether lotteries promote irrational behavior.
In The Lottery, Shirley Jackson presents a story about the power of tradition and the ways it can manipulate people. The story takes place in a remote American village where tradition and customs rule the lives of the people living there. It is a sad tale that shows how much of a toll traditional beliefs can take on the people and their families.
The Lottery takes place on a summer evening as the town folk gather in their homes for the annual lottery. The members of each family bring their tickets to be placed in a wooden box. There is a lot of banter between the people as they discuss their odds. Some talk about how other towns have stopped holding the lottery. An elderly man quotes a traditional rhyme: “Lottery in June/Corn will be heavy soon.”
People have long been interested in the chance to win large sums of money through the use of a random draw. While the earliest lotteries involved giving away land or slaves, modern state-run lotteries are primarily designed to raise money for public uses. The principal argument used to support the adoption of state lotteries has been that they provide a painless source of revenue for governments by tapping into irrational consumer demand for the chance to win large sums of money.
As a result, lotteries have developed broad public support and are the most widely adopted form of government-sponsored gambling in the United States. In addition, lottery proceeds have also generated substantial profits for the private sector—convenience store operators (who purchase the tickets and operate the retail outlets where they are sold); suppliers of products such as instant-win scratch-off games (who make significant contributions to political campaigns); teachers (in states in which the revenues are earmarked for education); and state legislators (who quickly become accustomed to the extra cash).
Despite the general support, a number of problems plague state lotteries. For one, there is no unified policy on gambling and the lottery, which makes it difficult for state officials to manage an activity that they profit from. Moreover, as the lottery industry develops and evolves, its impact on state budgets becomes increasingly entwined with political and social issues that cannot be addressed through a series of piecemeal policy decisions. The result is that lottery officials often find themselves caught between the pressures of voters to increase prizes and the needs of a growing population for jobs, housing, and education.