Allen J. Barwick: Our lottery sins

June 20, 2014 

Regarding your June 20 editorial “ Tangled web”: The lottery is a system of collecting taxes that is highly regressive, receiving money from many poor people and “giving” it to ones who are not so poor. Some have referred to this as the “Reverse Robin Hood Plan.” There are data that reveal the per capita purchase of lottery tickets is higher in poorer counties. Our residents, as the rest of the nation, are in a state of denial about the moral efficacy of collecting revenues this way. We entered this slippery slope knowing that the moral issues would be forgotten. Psalm 19 has a term for what is happening, and it is referred to as “Presumptive Sin,” a sin that is committed willfully even though we know it is wrong. Theologians believe that such sins leave us with little hope.

Another real problem is to use these revenues to fund salary increases. The intent of the lottery was to supplement educational budgets, not substitute for recurring funds. Their use for salary increases is a violation of this principle. The use of the lottery for salaries will require an expansion of the collection efforts. Watch out! We are gaining speed down the slippery slope.

Allen J. Barwick, Raleigh

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