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JackRiddler

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Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 21,940

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The difference between New York and what you describe in MA is exponential.

Concentration of population allows an extremely high incidence. Different lottery campaigns can be seen all over the subway, all year long. Commercials are constant and on all types of programming. Stores that sell tickets on every corner put signs up announcing current prize levels (lies, as I've explained). Of course it's on the local news. The pitch of the messaging often targets low-income people and has a shockingly anti-work stance for a state that's otherwise claiming it's "open for business" and people must work hard to bring us back to greatness. It's a crass contrast to the public health and behavioral propaganda from the same state. People often start conversations with the words, "If I won the lottery," and I doubt they would do so as often if they weren't reminded of the lottery's existence constantly. I'd have to think the average person is exposed to lottery messaging from New York State several times a day and that includes children, who don't care about the odds. Many of them will adopt the fantasy, looking forward to how rich they'll be once they're old enough play the lottery. Use of cartoonish/CGI characters and joke spots will appeal to them, whatever the intent.

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I think the lottery is a legitimate means of preventing private numbers games...

and even raising a bit of revenue by offering the thrill of fantasy riches. But unfortunately governments have treated it as a means to expand the numbers games beyond anything that existed before, and to offer them 24/7, and to use lotto as a replacement for tax breaks they give to the rich.

In NY they run televised numbers games in bars that have drawings every three minutes. (I don't know if this exists online, ugh.) There are at least two daily numbers (3 and 4 digits), something called Pick 5 that's also daily I think, a lot of different scratch-card ripoffs, and three different big jackpot games (Mega, Power and old Lotto) each with two drawings a week. That makes six jackpots a week when there was originally just one.

It's the most advertised thing on TV, except maybe for car insurance. Billboards everywhere. This flood of state-approved propaganda emphasizes how your life can change, unconditionally, no warnings, no nothing. All you need is a "little bit of luck"?! At 175,000,000 to 1?! Such a lie, but it's become the American Dream! (tm)

This aggressive marketing suffers none of the limits or handicaps that organized crime once faced. Notwithstanding whether there should be a lottery, the proliferation is a problem in itself. It definitely crossed a qualitative as well as quantitative line long ago. If it were to go back to one jackpot a week and one pick-a-number game a day, with none of these infernal scratch offs or three-minute games that literally turn people into corner junkies, then people could have their thrills and anticipation, but most would waste a lot less of their money doing it. There should also be, as I said, honesty about prizes and a prominent display of odds.

Instead, New York is looking for ways to expand gambling further. Remember, these are the poor who are doing this, for the most part. (Here I use poor informally as a state of precarity that comes close to median incomes in New York City, where living expenses are so high; we should dispense with the myths that confuse middle income with "middle class.") Think again that children pay the price when their parents do stupid things (so the government shouldn't encourage stupidity) and everyone pays a price when too many people around them are impoverished even more than they would have been if this opportunity to blow it all on the lottery was not omnipresent and aggressively pushed.

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You can't always justify something because it makes money for a "good" thing.

The government should (and actually does) know that money spent on the lottery comes from lower-income people and objectively damages their economic situation. For many, it is an addictive behavior, and rather than simply blame them, the government should consider factors like their children, or the impact of having more impoverished people in a neighborhood. The addict does not damage only him or her self. The government should (and actually does) know that advertising the lottery predictably results in more people buying more tickets. Any one of them is responsible for his or her own decisions, but the aggregate increase is due to the government's decision. The government's ad companies definitely know that they are using manipulative and emotionally deceptive strategies that completely distort the facts of the lottery. It is a scam - an open scam, in which the fine print tells you exactly why you are a sucker, but a scam nevertheless.

Here's a start: Would you object to printing the odds of the game in the same size print as the ostensible winnings?

Would you object to telling the truth about prize money? This is a big part of the scam, and may qualify as fraudulent under the law.

E.g., in the Mega Millions there is no $105 million prize.

Rather, when the prize is advertised as $105 million, it means there are two possible prizes:

- an average annual payout of $5million pretax for 26 years

or

- an immediate "lump sum" payout of about $33 million (based on current interest rates) after taxes (which will be withdrawn prior to payment). Pretax this will be closer to $55 million or so, depending on the state and city of residence.

To call either $105 million, as the advertising does, is a deception.

Many voluntary behaviors are subject to restrictions on advertising...

because they are considered objectively damaging to the person engaging in them. There is no TV advertising for smoking. It is understood perfectly well in the social sciences (and by the experts working in governments) that although a behavior is voluntary, promoting it by advertising results in more people doing it, and thus the advertiser bears a responsibility. Cigarette makers were forced to pay enormous penalties for their historic practices to promote smoking, although smoking was always a voluntary behavior. They were accused of misleading people; it didn't matter that people "should have been smarter" about it. It mattered that promoting an image of smoking as something cool encouraged people to do it, just as images of lottery winners having great lives encourage people to play the lottery. The state supposedly exists to serve the interests of the people, not to fool them into wasting their money (and thus contributing in many cases to their impoverishment). If an alcoholic has stayed sober for two years, and a friend visits with a bottle of vodka and tries to convince them to get drunk, is the friend not responsible simply because it's still the drinker's choice?

There is no such thing as a "conventional free market capitalist nation"

Capitalism is the sovereignty of capital. Talk of "free market" is in most cases a myth. Real capitalists hate free markets, they like monopolies. Efficiency and competition are often in conflict, in their view. The only competition they like is among laborers, which is why China is so wonderful. In capitalist economies, the state is powerful and intervenes constantly in the service of capital. Capital and the state have always worked together, contrary to "free market" mythology. Economic units strive to maximize profit and externalize cost. The question is whether profits accrue mainly to private or public owners. In China it's the latter, so the one-party dictatorship gets to call itself "communist."

China is viewed as ideal by the big US corporations.

Capitalism is not just an ideal set of economic practices, but a world system that China joined long ago. In the huge export sector, the command in "command economy" comes from the multinationals. So tell me, are they communist, or is China capitalist? To them, capitalism means doing any business that makes a profit, whether it involves a dictatorship or not. There has never been a necessary contradiction between the two systems of classic capitalism and the statist capitalism practiced in "communist" countries. The hybrid that has emerged in China combines the worst conditions for labor, a capitalist's dream, with an authoritarian lack of recourse and high efficiency in providing deliverables. Many of the leading capitalists of this country hold up China as a wonderful example, or a threat because they're so much better as "competitors" than lazy Americans who still expect eight-hour days and enough pay to pay some bills. By the way, China has plenty of room for private ownership, including at state enterprises where nearly 50 percent of a firm can be owned by private investors, and the slogan adopted to accompany the shift to capitalism in the 1980s went, "To Get Rich Is Glorious."

Example of jury censoring for opinion, not rules violation.

http://www.democraticunderground.com/1002223268#post5

PS ON EDIT: I like the jury system, precisely because these decisions are transparent and can be debated. One can even hope there will be progress as a result.

I'm not sure that just wasting the tax dollars is really worse...

than some of the other stuff they may be doing, that US embassies (a.k.a. covers for CIA and other intel stations) have done in the past, and that the USG definitely did do in Iraq. Like compiling dossiers on officials and parliamentarians, and using these to influence Iraqi politics. Using that influence to help favored contractors rather than the Iraqi people. Using that influence to affect Iraqi foreign policy on behalf of neocon-style grand strategies. Spying on everyone an everything. Bribing journalists. Sowing instability and discord. Arming and training death squads. Drawing up assassination lists. Arranging false flags. Etc. Etc.

One obvious mistake you should correct, one giant fallacy.

"Contractors in Iraq" (180,000 employees in 2008) is clearly not the same as "contractors employed by the US Embassy" (5,000 in 2011).

Therefore you cannot on this basis make the remarkable assertion, "From 180,000 contractors to 5,000, that's a 175,000 contractor drawdown since 2008." In fact, it makes you look like you think all of your readers are idiots.

Who employed the 180,000 in 2008? Various entities are mentioned. How many do they employ today? Most relevant surely is how many contractors the USG paid for directly in 2008 and 2012. Find those figures, then you can make a claim.

The giant fallacy is the idea that now that Iraq has been well and destroyed, and its peoples set against each other, the war that continues is no longer American. No. USG-Americans have withdrawn (except for the incredible 16,000 employees of the most enormous "embassy" on Earth, a town-sized administrative complex, what are they doing there?). But the war that the USG started in Iraq continues.

Since you're probably not responsible for the war personally, why do you want to spin it? Would you lose sleep to admit that your country's government has committed an enormity with repercussions that continue today?

It's good that the USG did not manage to negotiate a SOFA extension and that the bulk of troops are gone. In a generation or two, Iraq might finally be recovering from what the USG did.

The Uighurs are a clear-cut case of crucifixion. And not the only one.

Though the 22 Uighur prisoners were determined to be "no longer enemy combatants" in 2005, five of them are still at the prison camp, seven years later, and though they are "NLECs" they are still being shackled to the floor.

What name measures up to this crime? Even murder is over in a few minutes.
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