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What the Billion-Dollar Powerball Fever Tells Us About the American Dream

Written By Jeff Edwards

Posted January 15, 2016

I’ll go ahead and confess that while I probably haven’t played the Powerball in almost 10 years, I bought a ticket this time.

I mean, $1.5 billion is a pretty good reason to spend the extra couple of minutes at the grocery store and pick up a two-dollar ticket.

And as true as it may be that I played for the mere fun of it, there was a small part of me that began to contemplate what I would do if I became a billionaire overnight.

For three lucky individuals, this dream has become a reality.

The Powerball total will now reset to a few million, which is clearly hardly worth playing for, and three families must now decide how to handle the burden of instant wealth.

This is What Makes America Great!

To be clear, becoming an instant billionaire overnight is not what makes America great.

Rather, it is the contemplation of a future not yet attained. The lottery may very well have its positive effects on education funding and the very few individuals that win it, but it is very much the opposite of the American dream.

It’s really not an individual’s fault as much as it is human nature. In fact, it’s really not all that different from the great pitfalls of socialism.

For why would one need to work hard if all they need will come to them through an outside force?

I mean, I’ll be honest with you again: The day of the drawing, I actually pondered whether or not to complete some work because a very small part of me thought that if I won, it wouldn’t matter.

That is a sickness that infects the human condition, and I don’t know that any of us are to blame.

Bernie Sanders is promising as much to the American people, except in his scenario everyone wins the lottery except those who currently have the wealth for which they didn’t wait for the lottery to provide.

And just as my foolish dreams on a Wednesday afternoon lottery drawing day led to a harder Thursday morning, so will succumbing to the idea that anyone is coming to save the day and provide you with a wealth you didn’t earn.

A Hopeless Tax on the Poor

Many have said that the lottery is actually a tax on the poor.

I can see the point in that there have been countless stories of those with meager financial means putting up several hundred dollars just to buy lottery tickets for a one in 200 million-plus chance of winning.

Meanwhile, just a handful actually win, and those who very much needed their money will no longer have it.

Personally, I believe that grown adults are responsible for their own behavior, and if they choose to buy a ticket with their hard-earned money, then that is up to them.

I chose to spend two dollars and was fully prepared and financially capable of accepting the consequences.

But for many Americans who receive heavy government benefits, the lottery was their choice.

Week in and week out, people will spend their money on the opportunity for quick wealth minus the work.

And yet the scariest part about this all is that I don’t think people vote any differently.

Why not vote for Bernie Sanders and let him bring you the government-subsidized benefits of your dreams?

The Consequence of Great Wealth

What are the chances of that actually working?

Perhaps you get free college tuition today in a bankrupt nation tomorrow, but it sounds too good to resist now, doesn’t it?

The truth is, there is no other path to success that lasts than hard work.

Yes, I know that children of the wealthy hardly roll up their sleeves and contribute, but they often pay for it through poor decisions with devastating life consequences, as do those who gain the quick wealth of the lottery.

The last confession I’ll make about the lottery is that I kind of hoped that I perhaps only won the million dollars instead of the full billion.

$1 million would drastically change my financial circumstance but is hardly enough to ruin me.

Give me $1 billion, and I might very well be marching down Main Street with my army of angry giraffes.

So back to work I go, as should you all. It was fun while it lasted, but the path to the American dream has never been any different than the one that lies before us now.