Exclude those on public assistance from playing the lottery?

Jan. 27

News & Observer of Raleigh on excluding those on public assistance from playing the state lottery:

Republican State Rep. Paul “Skip” Stam of Apex, speaker pro-tem of the House and hard-line conservative ideologue, perhaps means well, in a way, in a proposal to exclude those on public assistance from playing the state lottery. He says they need their money for necessities, and that those on “welfare,” as he puts it, shouldn’t be wasting money on the lottery.

Stam at least acknowledges this would be a chore to enforce. One way, he said, was to not allow people who pay for groceries with food stamps to buy lottery tickets at the same time.

But what about when no food stamps are evident?

The larger issue has to do with denying one group of people, who happen to be in need of assistance, the right to play a state-sanctioned game that everyone else can play.

We don’t disagree that those on assistance shouldn’t be wasting their money. Millionaires who are playing the game shouldn’t, either. We opposed the lottery as an extra tax on poor people hoping to solve their problems by gambling. But now that the lottery is in place, to try to discriminate against one economic class seems not just unwieldy but wrong.

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