A quick glance at any given social media site today will give the viewer nothing short of an eye-full of posts on the record breaking Powerball jackpot, which after last night’s inability to cash out, is now over a billion dollars. Think about that; many of us have no clue as to how much money that is, and yet some yokel is going to be sticking it in their bank account within the next week or so, most likely.
I say many of us have no clue how much money that is because we just don’t have a proper frame of reference for it. Let’s try to think about it in terms of buying a house. If you had about a billion dollars, and you bought a house worth $100,000, you would still have about a billion dollars. Just let that sink in.
The phenomena of the state lottery system leaves me feeling conflicted. On the one hand, it’s crazy how we have so many laws on the books that prohibit gambling, yet the state is the arbiter of a gambling system that takes billions of dollars every year out of the pockets of its citizens. On the other hand, I’ve bought my share of lottery tickets in the past because it’s like purchasing some temporary little dream. The endorphins that course through your body as you daydream about purchasing a new car after getting back from a world tour and not having to worry about any of your old debts is invigoratingly intoxicating. And it only costs $2 to feel this very natural high for up to a couple days.
If that was the full extent of the issue, it’d be complicated enough due to the hypocrisy of the state running this system, but not everyone just casually goes out and buys a single $2 ticket whenever they see that the jackpot is particularly high. And what’s more, the people who are throwing the most into the pot are typically the ones who can afford it the least. Like any other drug, gambling can be extremely addictive; we just give it more of a pass because it’s an action rather than a consumable. But anyone who has ever felt that rush after picking up a lottery ticket, or once they see the cherries line up on the slot machine, or after the little white ball lands on red should be able to imagine well enough just how addictive gambling really can be.
I had no intention of fully tackling the greater issue of gambling, state-sponsored or otherwise, given how deep the rabbit hole of such a topic goes. But I think, given the fact that we’re all looking dewy-eyed at this enormous jackpot, we should all be a bit more conscientious of what it is we’re doing when we toss our hard earned money down for the chance at receiving easily unearned money. As for myself, my girlfriend and I picked up a ticket each yesterday, and we’re more than likely to pick up another before Wednesday because, well, the spending of $2 is at minimum worth another little jolt of endorphins here in the middle of a cold and dreary winter.
And one could do an awful lot of traveling with a billion to burn!