MONEY: Understanding the tax on stupidity

Against All Odds

For Immediate Release
September 21, 2012

If you insist on playing the lottery, make sure you know the true risks and downsides.

*** begin quote ***

When you step outside your home, are you afraid of being struck by lightning? Of course not. You know the chances are remote.

But you were more likely to be hit by lightning twice than you were to win the top prize in the Mega Millions lottery jackpot when it paid a record $640 million recently. Indeed, you were 176 times more likely to be struck and killed by lightning than to win that jackpot, four times more likely to be killed by fireworks and nine times more likely to die from a television falling on your head.

Just so we’re clear, I’m not a big fan of buying lottery tickets. Essentially they are a tax on the stupid. Because of the infinitesimal odds against winning, you’re giving dollars to the government for nothing in return.

*** and ***

Sadly, those who spend hundreds of dollars annually hoping to become an overnight multimillionaire will never achieve the riches they seek. But if they instead placed that money into the average stock mutual fund every day for 45 years, they would indeed become wealthy.

It’s true: $3 invested every day for 45 years, assuming it grows at the historic 10% annual return that the S&P 500 Stock Index has earned on average since 1926 according to Ibbotson Associates, would be worth nearly $1 million.

*** end quote ***

An excellent and perceptive argument against the chronic lottery player.

Some folks are “lucky”. But many “gamblers” I know, even “lucky” ones, avoid the lottery in any form because they are “not lucky at it”.

Most persuasive part of Rick’s indictment is that $3 / day makes you a millionaire in 45 years!

I didn’t realize that. Wish I had 45 years ago.

I do remember some NYC bank had the adage “small leaks sink great ships” embossed on its passbook savings. Maybe it should have been “three bucks a day makes you a millionaire in 45 years”.

Do Americans save ANYTHING any more?

I also noticed today driving through a “poor  section” of town that everyone I saw was smoking. Hmmm, a causal relation?

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