The Lottery: Why Money Doesn’t Solve Poverty

About a week ago, David Lee Edwards died in hospice. He was 58, completely bankrupt, divorced, miserable, and strung out from addictions and hard living. He had spent a year or so before that living in a storage shed surrounded by his waste.

Rewind to 2001. David Lee Edwards was an ex-con living in his parents’ house, borrowing money to keep his water on. He didn’t have a job, his relationship with his fiancee was on the rocks—his life was tanking. He borrowed some money to take his fiancee out to dinner, to try to fix things up with her at least. With a few dollars in his hand and his girl on his arm, he felt lucky. So he stopped at the Pump ’n’ Save and bought a lottery ticket. And won $27 million. A fleet of luxury cars, mansions, drugs, and debauched living later, he was dead—ruined and destitute.

This story is not entirely unique. A study headed up by economists from Vanderbilt University established that large-sum lottery winners are actually twice as likely as their socio-economic peers to go bankrupt. Reasons for this abound. The most obvious one is that most people who play the lottery regularly have no clue how to manage their money—as evidenced by the fact that they play the lottery regularly.

But this uncovers a serious issue with our attempts to solve the poverty problem. To hear most bleeding hearts talk, the biggest problem with poor people is that they don’t have money. But as the lottery evidences, money in itself cannot solve poverty in the long-term. Giving people money does not help them if they don’t know how to manage money.

The biggest problem with most poor people is not the fact of their poverty; it is the reasons for it. Most real rags to riches stories involve hard work, thrift, self-control, and perseverance. “Free” money doesn’t teach this. In fact, “free” money may be ruining the people we are ostensibly helping. Want proof? Take a look at lottery winners. Take a look at David Lee Edwards.

19 responses

  1. Other instances of hand outs and freebies, are countries that receive our aid. Now I’m not saying giving aid is a bad thing, quite the opposite. However, to the majority of the what are supposed to be the workers in those countries, they have developed a need to live off our aid and not know how to work. Same principle applied.

  2. Proverbs 13:11 gives us the answer tot hat problem. “iWealth gained by dishonesty will be diminished,

    But he who gathers by labor will increase.”

  3. I am a teacher in Ga and here the lottery is a huge joke among us. They only passed the lottery here on the promise that 100% of the money goes towards education, and it does, but most of it is given out in college scholarships called the “Hope” scholarship. You have to have a GPA above a 3.6 or so and you get a full ride to any state school. Sounds like a good deal and it is. It was hailed by minorities as “finally a way for black kids to go to college too” as if there aren’t a million scholarships out there for minorities but whatever. The joke is that the vast majority of people who play the lottery are poor minorities. And the vast majority of kids who graduate from high school with high GPA’s are white suburban kids. The Ga state lottery is really a big machine that gets poor minorities to pay for rich white kids’ college and none of them have caught on in 20 years. The lottery is just a tax on people who are bad at math.

    • Why can’t the black kids make good grades and go to college like the white kids? I don’t get it. Are you saying that the state is taking advantage of minorities? Hardly.

      • They can, I teach plenty that do every day. But I live in a very affluent area. The black kids that live here do well, because they have parents that do well, and generally don’t play the lottery. I am speaking in generalizations based on known statistics. Statistically, kids from low socioeconomic backgrounds tend to do poorly in school, and tend to be minority at a greater frequency than whites. Also, poor people who are also uneducated, tend to play the lottery with much higher frequency than educated people do. So its really just a confluence of statistics, not a dastardly plot. poor people spend more money on the lottery and also are less likely to have their kids qualify for the scholarship. not saying it cant or doesn’t happen, just that its less likely. White kids, are more likely to get the scholarship and are less likely to need it. So the end result is that poor minorities in this state tend to have much more of their money go towards sending white kids to college than rich white people sending poor minorities to college. just the law of unintended consequences.

      • The average inherited IQ of Blacks is about 10 points below Whites and 15 to 20 point below Asians. Research his proven this time and again. Does that answer your question?

    • Worse yet. The amount of NON-lottery spending on education is REDUCED by the amount of lottery money expected. While they can ‘prove’ 100% of the lottery money goes to education, it doesn’t increase funding of education AT ALL.

  4. “There they go again”…mixing up means and ends. A classic failure of many but in particular those who try to solve a problem without understanding it.

    That is why GOD blessed us with his Word so that we don’t have to guess. The only time we go astray when we follow His directions is when we misunderstand or misapply them.

  5. We have to learn how to do things right in order to climb out of poverty. There’s spiritual, cultural, and physical poverty. Keep screwing up and no amount of money will help.

  6. It is not how much you make, it is how you manage it. If you give every so-called “poor” person a million dollars, they will probably throw it away and end up right back where they started. The lottery is just another scam perpetrated on gullible people.

  7. Before I comment I must admit that a couple times a year when there is a BIGGIE I do buy a ticket. Now, this articles hits it on the head. It also crosses racial lines as as many poor whites as blacks blow their winnings in a heart beat too! Things mean so much more when you have to work hard for the money to pay for them!

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