Lotteries are so common that it's easy to forgot how fundamentally absurd they are. It's gambling! Everyone knows the house always wins. Spending money on lottery tickets is not a rational thing to do -- yet people do it, to the tune of over $60 billion per year, in the United States alone (worldwide, the amount is estimated at $275 billion).
And then there are all the other forms of gambling: horse racing... slot machines... roulette... real estate...
Why is it so popular? Here's a possible explanation: these days, our economy seems to make no particular connection between effort and reward. Sure, we're willing to work for a living, because that's the only way we can pay our bills. But we're members of the ninety-nine percent: we can clearly see that working isn't going to make us rich. Maybe that lottery ticket will!
We see the fantastic growth of inequality in recent years. And we can't help but ask: has any multi-billionaire ever truly EARNED all that wealth? Sure, some people are more productive -- but could they really be THAT much smarter, quicker, more creative? Is that really "just the way the market works"?
Our course, Understanding Economics, explores the difference between earned and unearned wealth. That's the key to creating a dynamic economy that rewards those who work, create, innovate -- not those who pad, skim and rob.
Here is a note from Dayton Loyd, a member of the Henry George Institute's Board of Directors, that I'd like to share with you:
Becoming a college administrator and instructor was never a goal of mine; I never thought I had anything worth passing on. In the early 1980s, while I was in prison, I took a course in economics from the Henry George Institute, and things started to change. I had found something that could change the destiny of our world. "It was a new economic approach, stemming from an old idea that could bring equality and justice to people in every part of the earth." Once I understood the basic principles of how we could eliminate poverty, I wanted to share them with anyone who would listen. While still in prison, I became an HGI instructor and that was the beginning of a life-long career in education.
I believe that education is the key to changing the world and bringing justice to the human race. If anyone wants to make a difference in this world I suggest you read Progress and Poverty. You will see that with knowledge, we have the ability to make a difference. The world needs people who can make a difference
Become that person and your life will be a life worth living.
Dayton Loyd, Ed. S.
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LINDY DAVIES was Program Director of the Henry George Institute and Editor of the Georgist Journal. He was the author of The Alodia Scrapbook, the fictitious story of how a struggling African nation used Geoism to set itself on the path to prosperity, and of the novel The Sassafras Crossing. He managed a successful campaign to get the Henry George Institute's distance-learning program approved by the National College Credit Recommendation Service. He passed away in 2019, and is lovingly remembered by the many people whose lives he touched.