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Powerball 1.jpg

Don't Get Me Started

By Tater Barley Banks | Comment Diversions | December 12, 2009 |

By Tater Barley Banks | Comment Diversions | December 12, 2009 |

“The Lottery is a tax on the mathematically illiterate.” — Glen Whitney quoted in The New Yorker

I was sitting at the bar one night when the nightly lottery drawing came on the TV. When it was over, a guy two stools down was lamenting his luck at having (surprise!) failed to win big at Powerball that night.

I thought I’d help the poor sap out.

“Tell you what,” I said to him, “I’ll make you a deal. Over the next year, you give me all the money you would have spent playing the lottery. At the end of the year, I’ll give you back 75 percent of it and we’ll call it a jackpot. You’ll be a winner, guaranteed!”

I thought it was an excellent offer. I was giving him much better odds and a bigger possible payout than he was likely to get anywhere else. When he hedged, I upped my payout offer to 80 percent. He still did not take me up on it. And neither did the other handful of idiots I gave the same proposal.

I don’t gamble. Never. No way, shape or form. No scratch-off, no office pool, no nothing, and I think people who do are — and I’m trying to be kind here — morons. While I can kind of see the semiintellectual challenge of playing poker or betting on the horses or pro football, I reserve special contempt for people who can’t even muster up the smarts to seek something more challenging than the simple games of pure chance — lotteries and slots and the like. Anyone who doesn’t understand you have a greater chance of being abducted by space aliens than hitting the Powerball is a fool.

I also acknowledge that many of these types really ARE fools: simply poor suckers who don’t have two brain cells to put together. So I reserve my utmost contempt for the states (and, I guess, provinces and other nations) whose job it has become to milk these saps for every penny they can get, using animatronic groundhogs and clever marketing straegies to vacuum the pockets of the not-so-bright citizenry in order to keep the budget sort of balanced and the state afloat.

This is all at odds with my generally social libertarian streak, which argues that people ought to be allowed to flush their money down the toilet however they want. My counterargument to it this is, “I don’t care if Grandma blows her SS check at Atlantic City, but she better damn sure not ask me to pay for her fucking presecription meds.”

And …

Geez, I can go on and on about this, can’t I? I can be a real prick about it. And don’t even get me started on the Olympics.

But that’s the point of this weekend diversion: to get you started. And I want you to go well beyond a mere pet peeve. Tell us which issue is guaranteed to turn you into a self-righteous flaming asshole. And then, please, be my guest and expound on it to the fullness of your self-righteous flaming assholiness.

And we’ll tell you what a prick you are.


TATER BARLEY BANKS is not to be trusted. He probably makes up everything he writes about himself, especially the stuff about living in West Virginia. Don’t be fooled. In truth, he lives in Pajibaland, where he speaks gibberish as , (TCFKAB), spends his time sitting on a park bench, eyeing little girls with bad intent, and is developing a 25-letter alphabet, now that his key doesn’t work. He has no blog, no Facebook page and no MySpace page, so don’t try to find him. If you’re so inclined, you can email Tater.

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

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