Scratch to Lose!

The photo above was taken from a moving bicycle and with an awkwardly held camera, thus the blurriness. It’s a woman crossing her fingers, scratching for hope, and wishing for a small financial windfall, so long as the symbols match up into an appropriate pattern. I wish I could say this was something due to “La Crisis” but this is a pretty regular scene in communities of the working poor. Yes, the lottery is a waste of money and a tax on the poor, but it still represents one of the few imaginary options out of poverty. And when you don’t have many real options, those few threads that offer a lifeline to a better standard of living take on an importance they should not deserve. When you only make minimum wage, why not risk a small part of it in the hope of escaping that interminable prison? There’s a pretty messed up logic to this lottery business. I suggest you read the article by Kim Phillips titled “Lotteryville, USA” which was in The Baffler #7, now available via this google books link.

6 thoughts on “Scratch to Lose!

  1. The photo is actually good and I love how the lady’s
    outfit matches the wall good combo.
    Yes the hopes and dreams of winning the Lotto been instilled with my folks as well. My mom and dad been buying lottery tickets ranging from scratchers and Super Lotto since I could remember, aside winning a measly $100 bucks or so over the years, they have spent far more.
    The article was good as well although my folks cheap out and maybe buy no more then 10 dollars worth it’s crazy to read how people spending $60.00 to $90.00 on lottery in hopes of winning wasting money when already impoverished. The theory behind it makes sense though they just do not want to be poor anymore, and that is the easiest way to them to find their dreams.
    thanks for sharing.

  2. Another form of the lottery is the phenomenon of working class people, public servants (people who work in gov’t and state funded jobs), and other middle class type people who are one check away from being on the street voting Republican. As if they want to keep alive that part of the gov’t that protects the rich, because they feel that one day they are going to be one of those people or they are under the delusion that they are one of those people.

  3. If you tell people the same story over and over, they might start to believe it, even if it’s not true. People can resist by making their real-life boring stories exciting.

  4. An interesting fact I learned after having a chance to talk with the woman who used to run the Lottery for the State of California:

    The CA Lottery generates several hundred million dollars for “education” annually in the state. Yup, but the legislature simply takes what the lottery gives to education and slices off a corresponding chunk of money from the normal education budget – so things pretty much even out. Pretty fucked up, eh?

    In most people’s minds the lottery money is something extra that goes towards education. In reality, the lottery just allows the state to take education dollars and spend them elsewhere. Keep scratchin’ California!

  5. Hope, escape and disillusion. That’s what I see in people when they spend money on lotto tickets. The hope to get out of the hood, buying a house, having stability and achieving part of the american dream. It’s all about having hope in the future that things will get better eventually. And that’s what that paper means to them.

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