Another tax cut for the wealthy
Tom the Dancing Bug echoes my thoughts on lotteries.
In fact, as I was pulling it out of the vaults, I just realized that, a week from today, this Runyonesque commentary on the topic will be a quarter century old. Two observations: (A) It was a relatively fresh take on the phenomenon then and (B) my ability to change the world is obviously kind of limited.
Bolling's final point is critical to understanding the lottery scam, because one of the lies in lottery promotion is the notion that proceeds increase the amount spent. So you attribute the money to schools, and you even show ads, as Vermont does, with smiling children getting better educations because of lottery funds, so that everyone can feel all warm and fuzzy about pissing away their paychecks down a rat hole.
The fact is, it's an accounting scam. The impression is given that, because of the lottery, schools get more money. That's a load of crap. It all goes into the same place and how it is divided is nothing more than a sorting of the beans.
The money spent on education or parks or whatever other soft focus photogenic aspect of government it's attributed to remains constant as a percentage of total tax spending. But you wouldn't sell half as many tickets with pictures of guys in coveralls smiling because the lottery helps pay for water and sewage projects.
And I don't think you'd sell any tickets at all if you said, "The lottery helps lower your taxes by taking money from stupid people."
There is this: If gasoline taxes didn't support the highway fund, we'd have to raise the same amount of money because we have to pave the roads. It makes a lot of sense, then, to impose a user tax, such that people who use the roads the most are shouldering a heavier burden for their upkeep than those who don't use the roads.
So, in a sense, I guess using lotteries to fund education is kind of similar, only the other way around.
Instead of a user tax, it's a "shoulda made better use of" tax.
The only Black Friday cartoons you need to read
As noted here before, another bit of deception occurs when "cartoonist's day off" is presented as a "holiday cartoon" treading the same tired ground as was trod the year before and as is being trod by dozens of other cartoonists today.
But this little gem emerged from the dewy pile of fetid gags about tryptophan and illegal Pilgrim immigration:
On a Claire Day is done by the team of Carla Ventresca and Henry Beckett, so the gender gags are pretty evenly distributed. It's a quiet, underappreciated bit of thoughtful, gentle, affectionate domestic comedy that kind of reminds me of the first few seasons of the 1990's Paul Reiser/Helen Hunt sitcom, "Mad About You."
And this is a well-crafted cartoon, for all the minimalism of the art (and the fact that, for some reason, it hasn't been colored this week). The men aren't depicted as Neanderthal screaming maniacs, nor are the women rhapsodizing over (yawn) chocolate and shoes.
I like that. How can you mock stereotypes if you turn around and hype the gag with them? Less is more, and this works well.
Meanwhile, today's Bug (Martini) is not overtly about Black Friday at all, except that we do look at computers then, and on Cyber Monday. Or at least I do, forever teetering on that question of whether spending more one time would end the cycle of repeatedly spending not-so-much.
And then looking for a chance to test the theory without actually spending more.
I did explore the specials yesterday, but it doesn't take a lot of drilling down to discover that most of the bargains are on computers that nobody wants and that were either overpriced to begin with or would have been on clearance anyway. As this observer notes, "Cheap crap is usually crap." Even big-ticket cheap crap.
Like the heavily marked-down laptop I looked at, until I saw that all the comments noted that the wifi doesn't work very well, and then I realized that the people who did like it were geeks who only liked it after they had essentially gutted it and installed a whole lot of other stuff.
Or the multi-gig thumb drive that had a great marked-down price, and comments that almost universally said it had failed unexpectedly after a very few uses and had lost all their data.
This consumer-friendly transparency is pretty pathetic, given how easy it is to load a site with positive reviews in the first place. But wotthehell, most of the Black Friday shoppers probably stop to buy a few lottery tickets on the way to the mall.
Yeah, okay, Huber didn't mention Black Friday or Cyber Monday or Ripoff Tuesday or any of those. But his timing was eloquent.
And I do remember the Good Old Days. One of my first large-denomination freelance jobs was writing a user-guide for a company that used its giant, air-conditioned, raised-floor, full-room computer to track oil and gas leases for people.
Powerful computer that would probably fit in a wristwatch today, if people still wore wristwatches. The user guide wasn't for this gigantic machine itself, but to help farmers and ranchers fill out the complicated form that would then be fed into the beast.
Computers have changed in the intervening nearly-40 years, but other things haven't: I had to sue the client in order to get paid.
For those who haven't been following here either, I just used Maeve's pending adventure as a catalyst for a whole discussion of people who embrace change and those who fear it. I'm giving Sandra Bell-Lundy credit for one helluva Saturday cliffhanger here, but, oh my, am I gonna be bummed if Maeve bails out before this plane takes off.
Never thought I'd find myself depending on Simon. Nobody should have to depend on Simon.
Simon, dude, you gotta come through here and tell Maeve the one thing you've never been any good at saying to her: "Go away."
(Canadian cartoonist/Canadian chanteuse/Universal truth)