North Carolina is one of the dozen states in the nation that still have no lottery (according to the National Association of State and Provincial Lotteries, 38 states have a lottery). As state legislators have been working furiously to pass a budget — they’re late, of course — the issue of the lottery has once again reared its head. The Democratic majority is trying to get a lottery passed, but the Republican caucus is holding firm, with some help from a few rebel Democrats who oppose the lottery. The state newspapers indicate the chances of the lottery passing are slim.
Among organizations favoring the lottery is the NC Association of Educators. We had a phone message from a teacher on our answering machine today asking us to call our State Senator to push for the “education lottery” (it’s for the children, of course). From their website (actually a Capwiz website the NEA runs for them):
The lottery proceeds would go to fund the following:
- Class size reduction
- Public school construction
- Academic kindergarten programs for at-risk children
- Financial aid based on need for college attendance
Clearly we don’t need a lottery per se, just a means for increasing revenue. Now personally, I think it’s time for the lottery supporters to think outside the box, and I’ve been rolling an idea inside my brain that I am now prepared to share with them: the state of North Carolina should take over the manufacture and sale of tobacco.
Now before you think I’ve lost my marbles, listen to my reasoning (and of course, think of the children).
First of all, the lottery has been done to death. One of the reasons the NC lottery supporters often fall back on is that all of our surrounding states have lotteries, and we lose money from folks who pop over the border to buy their lottery tickets somewhere else. I say: let ‘em. If North Carolina takes control of all tobacco products in the state, I’m sure we’ll be able to undercut the price of cigarettes in our neighboring states, and it’ll be their citizens swarming across state lines. We’ll have so much money in the state coffers that our schools will be like palaces. Our children will have the quality education they so richly deserve!
Also, don’t forget that North Carolina has a long history in the tobacco production business. We’re the perfect state for setting this new trend.
I already can sense the objections.
- Smoking is addictive, and it’s bad for you
- It targets the poor and uneducated.
- It’s effectively a regressive tax.
- It’s an inappropriate business for the state to be engaged in.
True enough. But I’m not advocating we target new smokers (we’ll put “safeguards” in place). Just those who already smoke. Furthermore, the state can set up a smoker’s hotline to help smoking addicts deal with their habit. Besides, think of the children.
This is what we always hear from those who want to force their own morals on others. Are you trying to say that people shouldn’t be able to smoke if they want to? Last time I looked, this was a free country. And is there any moral cause as important as educating our children? I mean, really. Aren’t you thinking of them?
Buying tobacco is entirely voluntary. Whether as a regular purchase or as an occasional play, buying a pack of cigarettes is an individual choice. The only consequence to not buying tobacco is missing some fun and possibly not looking as cool.”
And lest you forget — that so-called tax money is for your children. Think about them.
It seems to me that you’re not thinking of the children.
So you see, my plan is far superior to the lottery. It will result in a windfall for the citizens of North Carolina and an education for each child in this state. It will become the model for other states to follow.
I urge all lottery supporters to ditch their misguided and short-sighted lottery idea and get behind my new concept for raising revenue.
And when all is said and done, it will be the children who win.