Robbing Percy to Pay Paul: How Lottery and Education Policy Reproduces Racial Inequality

Kasey Hendricks, Racism Review, December 3, 2011

Malcolm X would often tell his followers, “Racism is like a Cadillac, they bring out a new model every year.”Although newer models look much different than older ones, the fact of the matter is a Cadillac is still a Cadillac. Likewise, racism is still racism, regardless of how it has changed throughout the years. The works of Eduardo Bonilla-Silva and Joe Feagin, among others, have shown that racism is about how racial categories are central organizing principles of social circumstances and opportunities. Racial groups atop the hierarchy are enumerated numerous advantages, both symbolic and material, while other groups are disadvantaged. In the modern era, the racial rule persists in ways that are institutional, covert, and seemingly nonracial, but no less effective. I argue that the utilization of lotteries to finance public services, like education, exemplifies a new model of this racism.

In a neo-liberal age characterized by disinvestment of the welfare state, lotteries have become a viable alternative for governments to generate hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars. Politicians are generally receptive to them, particularly when confronted with budgetary shortfalls, because they raise huge tax revenues for social services like education with little resistance from the public. {snip} Often times, however, lottery revenues are not generated equally across social groups. Some groups contribute more to social services than do others though the lottery tax. When these revenues are redistributed in a way that transfers money from one community to another, one community’s fiscal gain comes at another’s expense. {snip}

{snip} Using Chicago as a case study, I simultaneously compared the generation and allocation of lottery revenues. My findings show that this money-exchange process is organized along lines of race (and class). The lottery is a racially regressive source of revenue (it collects much more money from blacks than whites), but the state spends these revenues on education without considering from whom they originated. When this occurs, resources are transferred from communities of color and spread across all communities.

{snip}

In Chicago, money exchange between the lottery and education represents public policy that circulates money from those who need it most and spreads it around to everyone. This is especially true when lottery tax contributions outweigh other sources of money for education (e.g., property taxes). Under the worst circumstances communities of color are burdened with subsidizing public education, a service everyone is entitled. Public policy that circulates money in this way captures one mechanism for reproducing racially inequitable distributions of capital. Therefore, let us call this new Cadillac for what it is: Racism.

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  • Anonymous

    From the article: “When these revenues are redistributed in a way that transfers money from one community to another, one community’s fiscal gain comes at another’s expense.”

    Yes, that would be a fairly good summary of the primary purpose of the current USA government.

  • Irish

    Check under the bed! Behind the tree! Racists everywhere! EVERYWHERE!

  • Anonymous

    What’s the difference between the lottery and taxes?

    The lottery is voluntary. Taxes are involuntary. Taxes are taken, by threat of force and prison, against the will of the people.

    Which is worse – voluntary lottery, which in total amounts to a relatively small amount of money, or taxes, which, in total, across our nation, add up to trillions of Dollars annually?

    Note also, that when you add up all the taxes, and hidden taxes (Federal, State, city, property, car registration, road tolls, sales tax, phone tax, capital gains taxes, Social Security Tax, unemployment tax, Medicare tax, air travel taxes, hotel & restaurant taxes, etc. etc. that they represent nearly 50% of a wage-earners income.

  • Anonymous

    The lottery is a tax on stupidy.

    If not for the lottery, people will simply waste their money on horse-racing bets or sports bets. At least with the lottery, some of the money goes for education.

  • Question Diversity

    If this is correct, then to me, lotteries aren’t a problem, they’re a solution. It’s probably the only way certain ghetto blacks and other “low income” sorts will ever contribute to the system. Still, they are net beneficiaries rather than net contributors.

    Of lotteries in general, I have a contradictory mindset about them. On the one hand, I think they’re a tax on people unable to understand basic probability and statistics. On the other hand, they’re the only real way the average person has to become rich. If I were a politician, I would support lotteries, but as an individual who has been of legal lottery playing age for quite a few years, I rarely buy lottery tickets.

  • Anonymous

    Terrorist, traitor, and criminal Malcolm X was himself a new model (but quite similar to many other models) of racism. What a racist troglodyte homo erectus idiot!

  • Anonymous

    Oh please preach to us oh enlightened one! Please set us straight with your infinite wisdom! Please teach us to be good humans! Help us sacrifice our childrens future, freedom, and life so that people of color can have their way! Halleluyah! Halleluyah! All we whites need to sacrifice ourselves and ours! Halleluyah!

  • Anonymous

    They should call this screwing Lars to pay Latifa and Leshawn.

  • Conrad

    “…this money-exchange process is organized along lines of race (and class). The lottery is a racially regressive source of revenue (it collects much more money from blacks than whites), but the state spends these revenues on education without considering from whom they originated. When this occurs, resources are transferred from communities of color and spread across all communities.”

    Did someone hold a gun to their heads and make them buy the tickets?

    And just how does anyone know what races are buying these lottery tickets?

  • Chef Boyhowdy

    Hendricks may be on to something. I eagerly await his study of income tax collections/disbursals, as I’ve long suspected that my own payments are “redistributed in a way that transfers money from one community to another.”

  • Anonymous

    Malcolm X lecturing people about racism? The world is upside down.

  • Tom S.

    *The lottery is a racially regressive source of revenue (it collects much more money from blacks than whites), but the state spends these revenues on education without considering from whom they originated. When this occurs, resources are transferred from communities of color and spread across all communities.

    Well aren’t taxes a “racially regressive” source of revenue with Whites paying much more than blacks and blacks (and other non-Whites ) getting much more back than they pay in? Nobody forces blacks to play the lottery but yet Whites ARE forced to pay high taxes to support the black undertow.

  • Ian J. MacDonald

    The lottery is a tax on dumb or wishful people who cannot do math.

    But apparently *everything* is now “racist” according to the professionals hate sniffers at Racism Review.

    I will admit that about once a year I spend $1 for a powerball ticket. So for a week or two I get to walk around fantasizing about what I would do were I to actually win $100 million. “Hey, it could happen,” I tell myself. After the drawing, I use the lotto ticket as a bookmark.

    And to think that all this time I was propping up a “racist” institution…

  • Son of Abraham

    This poor fellow needs an intellectual enema; he’s all backed up.

    If blacks buy an inordinate percentage of lottery tickets, then, of course, it is not due to lack of restraint and the proclivity toward gambling of those blacks. It is due to some insidious, malevolent, outside force; and there can only be one great prime mover behind this force — the awful White man.

    The Chinese gamble to a great extent; so do Italians and Jews. But these people do not ascribe some thing outside of themselves as the driving force behind their gambling.

    I would venture to say, too, that gambling among developed people is on the whole held either in distain or outright contempt. Whereas in the greater black culture the gambler, the hustler, and even the criminal are admired and openly emulated.

    There’s a big difference there.

    That is my view on the subject.

  • Soprano Fan

    And the author’s point is what, exactly?

    That state lotteries are “racist” because Bantus tend to spend a higher percentage of their disposable income on lottery and lotto games, hoping for the jackpot, than other races do? And that the money spent on education is spread around, leaving “communities of color” to subsidize education for everyone else? How stupid is that?

    That’s like saying crack cocaine is “racist” because a greater percentage of Bantus spend their money on it, than other races do.

    Does this author expect us to believe that the lottery and policy numbers players in New York City’s Harlem slum, are subsidizing the education of school children on Long Island, or in the trendy Hamptons district; by virtue of their spending money in these pursuits?

    Bantus were gambling on policy numbers long before New York passed a law legallizing lottery games.

    This author is full of mugabedung.

  • McGillicuddy

    So the tax on blacks is a voluntary form of no-skill gambling i.e. they pay it only in the hopes of winning much more than they payed, and the white tax is mandatory, is disproportionately redistributed to blacks, while providing only a marginal indirect benefit to the white tax-payer, and blacks are the ones getting a raw deal?

    When I saw that this piece once retrieved from something called The Racism Review, I knew beforehand that this would be way too easy.

  • rockman

    damn he is good at finding racism under every rock. I would have missed it. Everyone feel guilty now?

  • MAJ

    The fact that this drivel appears in “Racism Review” is no surprise. Here we have a publication designed exclusively to seek out racism at all costs.

    Besides, the author sounds like a person with the mentality of a 10 year old- concerned only with the false notion and victim mentality of blacks/people of color who cannot succeed without special modifications put in place.

    First, no one is forcing blacks to buy lottery tickets.

    And what are supposed to do? Check the skin color of Powerball buyers so payouts are race-based? According to this “logic” Whites will soon be disqualified from cashing in winning tickets because blacks bought proportionally more tickets.

    How about if I wrote the following – using the author’s own words with minor changes? What do you think the reaction would be?

    —————

    {snip} Using America as a case study, I simultaneously compared the generation and allocation of welfare money, Medicaid money, section 8 housing funds, food stamps, prison costs, and tax payments. My findings show that this money-exchange process is organized along lines of race (and class).

    This is a racially regressive source of revenue (it collects much more money from Whites than blacks) but the state spends these revenues mainly on blacks without considering from whom they originated. When this occurs, resources are transferred from the income of working Whites to dependent, non-productive blacks and communities of color.

    Therefore, considering both the percentage of blacks in the US population and the vast difference in White versus black tax revenue that is collected, I propose, out of fairness, that 91% of all state and federal taxes go only to services and programs that benefit Whites.

  • Anonymous

    The lottery is a tax on people who are bad at math.

  • Howard W. Campbell

    Considering the trillions spent in the non-ending “War on Poverty”, I’m not too upset if Jamaal’s lottery money goes to pay for schools in the suburbs.

  • jewamonyou2

    The author thinks it’s a terrible thing when lottery revenues

    generated by blacks may actually go to benefit someone other

    than blacks themselves.But playing the lottery is voluntary

    thing. What about the taxes everyone involuntarily pays?

    It’s a statistic hard to come by(if anyone knows it with

    some precision please let us know).Whites clearly pay an

    overwhelming majority of them yet “communities of color”

    clearly recieve a disproportionate share-probably an over-

    whelming one.I’ve heard this referred to as the “social

    transfer tax”.I’ve even heard-without precise documentation-

    that the average white works until March to supply the

    needs of “communities of color” How rotten of THIS guy to

    complain about the very rare and insignificant instance of

    the reverse allegedly occuring

  • Scott Wilson

    The jist of the article is that blacks are contributing money toward the education of nonblacks and this is racist and should be stopped. The fact that lottery ticket purchases are voluntary escapes the writer’s notice. The money is available to all schools (this is a sense of universalist morality among whites) whereas the writer argues that it should be to a blacks (at least among black lottery ticket purchasers – though I’m not sure how this would be determined – this is a form of moral relativism, group specific).

  • Ed

    I play the lottery. I guess I’m stupid.

  • john

    Why is it that private gambling of any sort is illegal in the great majority of states? Especially when it can be done by the states, in a form that entices the dumbest and least educated to participate.

    I think we should legalize state-sponsored crack, heroin, and pot sales.

  • Anonymous

    From Post # 3: “Note also, that when you add up all the taxes, and hidden taxes . . . they represent nearly 50% of a wage-earners income.”

    OK, so nearly 50% of the money you earn is taken from you by the government. A considerable portion of that money is used to provide cradle-to-grave care and special programs for dysfunctional people of color.

    That money is taken from your family and given to other people. Could your family have used that money? Just think of what your family could have done if you had been allowed to keep your earnings. Would you have been able to spend more time with your children — teaching them?

    Each day, when you go to work, you are working to raise 2 families: your own and an African or Hispanic “family.” The government forces you to raise 2 families. That is called tyranny. Worse is that the second “family” that you are raising hates you and your children.

    My wife and I are each already working 50+ hrs/week. I can barely raise my own family. Why do I also have to pay for the spawn of dysfunctional Africans and Hispanics? It really is a type of slavery.

  • Rabble Rouser

    Did the author learn economics at a “historically black college?”

    How much welfare “cash money” goes toward lottery tickets if, indeed so many tickets are bought at ghetto liquor stores? By using the twisted logic of Racism Review, lottery money from black communities is being returned to the white community from whence it came.

    Blacks don’t want their ghetto cash money going to educate white children, I don’t want my white tax money going to fund the black underclass, including black schools. How about telling the government you won’t accept any more white money to fund black schools, or anything else that supports blacks for that matter?

    Fair is fair.

  • Anonymous

    Malcolm X would often tell his followers, “Racism is like a Cadillac, they bring out a new model every year.”

    Even when bashing whitey, blacks are obsessed with Cadillacs! My Dad first pointed it out to me in the early 1980s. As Cadillac has fallen as a brand, the customer base has become old people and blacks – a Cadillac Escalade is the ultimate black car (especially if it has more TVs than seats).

  • Anonymous

    The lottery is Applied Statistics 101 for stupid people. Lesson learned every week, no homework required!

  • Robert

    Lottery revenues are not generated equally across social groups because high IQ is not generated equally across social groups.

    You can’t protect people from their own stupidity, no matter what their race.

  • john in germany

    The stupider people are the more likely they are to spend significant portions of their money on lottery or other stupid forms of gambling.

    Therefore I have to agree with the author that lotteries are definitely worse for blacks.