Is this the liberal mentality boiled down to its essence?

Gregg Easterbrook is the liberal author and commentator who writes the popular Tuesday Morning Quarterback ("TMQ") column on ESPN.com. Easterbrook's liberal credentials are impeccable: He is a contributing editor to The New Republic, The Atlantic Monthly, and The Washington Monthly, and a resident scholar at the Brookings Institute.

The most important reason Easterbrook dislikes lotteries is because they make some people very rich, while the vast majority of lottery players win nothing at all. As Easterbrook writes:

Finally, I find it wrong that the news media exult lottery winners without context or perspective. One of the problems of the United States is an ever-widening gap between rich and poor. When the media celebrate lottery winners, they are celebrating inequality -- a small number receiving far more money than they could ever possibly need, at the expense of a large number with money problems. Most lotteries yield back about half their ticket sales as prizes. So if the $194 million Mega Millions jackpot was based on about $400 million in ticket sales at $5 a ticket, that means four tickets made their holders extremely wealthy while 80 million tickets paid nothing. Those 80 million tickets that paid nothing were mostly purchases by working men and women who became worse off -- especially if they bought a lot of tickets -- in order that a very small number could become much too wealthy. The $56 billion spent overall by Americans on legal gambling lotteries in 2006 mainly caused large numbers of citizens to become less well off so that very small numbers could become much too wealthy. Doesn't this describe a core problem with the United States social system -- that large numbers of people are set back so that small numbers can become much too wealthy? Why should the media celebrate this regressive, caustic force?

Amazing, isn't it? Winners win "at the expense" of those who lose. In other words, lotteries, like the economy, indeed life itself, is a zero sum game in which the success of some people can only be obtained by the failure of others. Despite the fact that every person who plays the lottery does so voluntarily, despite the fact that every lottery player has the same chance of winning the jackpot, despite the fact that no lottery player is made worse off because someone else wins -- Easterbrook darkly hints that those who win the lottery somehow are exploiting those who don't.

If anyone is exploiting the predominantly working class people who play lotteries, it is the government -- but, being a liberal, Easterbrook refuses to acknowledge that the state can do any wrong.

22 Answers

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  • 1 decade ago
    Best Answer

    This guy is just that, "an author, and commentator." How can he say people win at others expense. It is a gambling game!

    I did not succeed at the expense of others. Is it a choice to buy that ticket?

    I suppose Thomas Edison's success was not a lot of work, or Bell, or other hard working entreprneurs.

    How about movie stars, are they exploiting me because when I pay a ticket to see a movie I didn't particularly like.

    or was that my decision?

    I think conservatism takes away exploitation. Aren't the taxpayers being exploited rather than being empowered with big government programs?

    Did you know that a single adult earning $40,000 annually qualifys for Schip to the age of 25? A family of 4 with the earnings of$61,000 annually qualifies.

    At 25 a person could be married and have kids. So this means they are receiving health care for themselves and their kids, even if their earnings are $83,000!

    Doesn't this just expand the scope of government?

    Easterbrook sounds like a real whiner!

    So how did some Liberals get rich, and do they feel guilty?

  • 1 decade ago

    What's REALLY funny about this question is that the people who BECOME rich from lottery winnings start out POOR.

    So this moron is bashing the POOR who become RICH, and trying to equate them with "big bad capitalist pig" who became rich by "exploiting" the poor!

    Lotteries are just a tax on the math-illiterate.

    Oh, and he is fundamentally wrong on one point: the lotteries offer intermediate jackpots, so maybe someone who spent $1 on a ticket won $3 or $6, or maybe the person wins $3 for every $5 they spend (see - math tax).

    This idiot writes like the winners - who are unknown at the time of purchase - are somehow funneling money from other buyers into their own pockets.

    And this guy gets PAID to write this garbage?

    So what's his solution? That the lottery should pay EVERYBODY so that no one is a loser?

    But, if the lottery did that - then why would anyone play?

    He also displays his class-based arrogance (there really is no "racism" equivalent) - that all lottery purchasers have "money problems" and that "large numbers of people are set back" - by spending A BUCK??!!

    Source(s): I'm only on page 470, but every day - EVERY DAY - "Atlas Shrugged" looks like tomorrow's newspaper.
  • 1 decade ago

    We had a winner here in Idaho named Brad Duke who won 220 million. He took a lump sum payment of 85 million. His case seems to be rare but he invested the money and set up trusts and now his family are all receiving yearly payments, not to mention that his investments are nearly doubled in a year. His case is a rare one. Many people end up with nothing after wining and because many of them leave their jobs they end up unemployed. I would really like to see the powerball pay out in tiers so more people have a chance to win the big prize. Instead of someone getting eighty five million 20 people could have 5 million. Brad invested most of his money. It would be great to see other people get that chance.

    Truth be told everyone who gains wealth gains it at the expense of others who pay it. Most people make enough to keep the wheel turning, barely. Hand to mouth. Society depends on those people to perform all kinds of tasks to keep the economy flowing. There has to be balance. Being too liberal with social programs can harm the economy as much as being to conservative. So thank God for the discourse because it is the fire that keeps America in the balance. People need to work, and everyone should be able to pursue their dreams. Liberal or Conservative.

  • 1 decade ago

    No it isn't. People choose voluntary to play the lottery,everyone has the same chance to win,that's correct and that's exactly where your analogy with the economy goes wrong.

    Most people who start out on the wrong end of the economy don't choose to start there. I f you're born in the wrong part of Africa today you don't have the same chance to "win" as someone born in America or Western Europe on the right side of the economy.

    Success isn't always at the expense of someone else but failure doesn't always equate evil. Some sucsess is at the expense of others

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  • 1 decade ago

    I don't think that it is a liberal point of view. I had my State Rep say the same thing when the lottery arrived in Oklahoma. Mr Claunch is about as conservative as they come.

    I'd really like to move away from the conservative v. liberal argument about this matter. Indeed, everyone knows that playing the lottery is a long shot, and most of the time the winners have played for years faithfully before cashing in.

    To acknowledge this as a conservative v. liberal matter only serves disjustice to this problem (if there really is one).

  • ?
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago

    No. It's one man's opinion.

    What are YOUR views? Does EVERYBODY of your political leanings hold those same views?

    Nowhere in the Easterbrook quote is there mention of liberals, conservatives, any parties. That's all YOU - it's in YOUR head.

    By the way - The New Republic is not a liberal publication, nor is Atlantic Monthly or Washington Monthly, and Brookings is nonpartisan and unaligned (and you CAN find conservative scholars there, but I'm guessing that YOU don't want to, lest it cause your blinders to fail).

  • BNP
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago

    I think you missed the point of his article. He isn't saying that someone is worse off because someone else won - he is saying they are worse off for entering and not winning. There is nothing wrong with the lottery itself, as you point out it is voluntary. The issue he has a beef with is the culture that applauds the super-rich so much that people are willing to weaken their own financial situation for a tiny chance of being one themselves.

    Furthermore, you are taking his comparison - the lottery with the social system here - and extrapolating it to life itself. That is something he does not do, you are putting words in his mouth.

  • Louise
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

    California is only liberal in its big cites like SanFrancisco and Los Angeles, the more rural areas are very conservative. This is also true in states like new York, where the liberals are concentrated in NYC @FarOutisde,"Most, if not all, states have voted down gay marriage. The states that allow it have disregarded the will of the people by using activist judges who overstep their authority." Nope, Washington, Maine and Maryland have allowed gay marriage through popular vote. "Gay marriage is strictly a financial issue. The country gives financial benefits to married men and women to help them raise families. Gay activists have sold a bill of goods to the population to make you think that if you are against gay marriage, you must be a homophobe." Nope, gays just don't want to feel like second class citizen in their own country. Also if your against gay marriage it is almost always because the person is homophobic, trust me I live around people who are very against the idea of gay marriage.

  • 1 decade ago

    there is nothing wrong with a lottery. as your article points out, people have the choice of participating, and clearly everyone understands that their chances are small at winning.

    this differs greatly from a political and economic system whose average members cannot escape from or change which upholds a false "anyone can be successful" philosophy.

  • 1 decade ago

    Being a liberal to me means believe what you choose to believe and allow me to do the same.

    Take from this Earth only what you need and give back as much as you take if possible.

    It's pretty much boils down to respect.

    Respect for yourself and others.

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