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Windfall Profits through Chance, Luck & Lottery

Updated on January 1, 2012

In the late 20th century, it became commonplace for people to routinely spend a portion of their paycheck to buy a lottery ticket. Lottery news is displayed every day on the evening news. More money is disbursed for college “scholarships” by drawing in a raffle than by competition.

When you didn’t want your number to be drawn

When I turned 18, I was required by US law to register for “the draft,” the means until 1973 of enlisting young men to serve in the military instead of the sign-on bonus that is often paid today. Near the end of the Vietnam War, the draft was enhanced with a lottery system of randomly drawing birth dates. If your birth date drew a low draft number, there was a good likelihood you would be drafted to serve. There was an element of luck involved.

In the late 20th century, lotteries became more common. People would routinely spend a portion of their paycheck to buy a lottery ticket—or several. The odds are against winning, but the payoff is huge—if you’re that lucky. It’s like gambling at the racetrack or any other organized betting. Games of chance have been around forever, but never more organized, grandiose and commonplace as in the past half century.

Good luck if you’re from the lottery generation

Good luck—you’ll need it to win. Those who do win often find that everyone wants to befriend them or remind them of some otherwise forgotten relationship or favor. Taxes take a huge bite. In most cases, the recipient is completely unprepared to handle these unusual stresses and, along with a few luxury purchases, often ends up little better than they were before the windfall.

To stretch the economic environment of this generation a bit, we could include coupons, rebates, discounts, etc. What they all have in common is an attempt to get ahead of the next guy by either income or the price of goods that are not set by normal supply and demand.

For students

Big business encourages this personal finance attitude among college students when it awards college “scholarships” through sweepstakes drawings that require nothing more for entry than name, address and phone number. These awards are part of their advertizing budget and have nothing to do with personal athletic, musical or academic achievement.

More about personal finance attitudes


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