Friday, January 17, 2014

Cripple Cash

Oh hell! Here it is. I knew this day was coming.

They launched a new lottery here in Illinois called Veteran’s Cash. It’s $2 a ticket and all proceeds “benefit Illinois veterans organizations.” It was unveiled with great fanfare. The governor flew around the state and held press conferences.

But I feel a sense of foreboding. Because maybe this is the pilot project that will develop into the new system of funding human services in the brave new world. You know how it works. The money generated by lotteries always has to go to support something “good.” That’s how we rationalize gambling. The Illinois lottery funds “education.” So if you’re pissing away your paycheck, it’s okay because you’re investing in our children, who are the future leaders of this great nation.

So you’d think that by now there would be so much education money that the daily school lunch would be steak tartare and every cafeteria would have a soft drink sommelier. But noooooooo! Some school districts are forced to stretch meager resources by using chalk as both a writing implement and a sautéed side dish for lunch.

That’s because with lottery bucks covering education, the state can take bucks that would have gone to education and spend them elsewhere. So the same thing will happen to the poor veterans. With their own lottery pumping in cash, the state will probably divert away the funds currently in the vet line item.

And soon after that there may be a whole bunch of competing lotteries funding the wide variety of human services line items. How about Cripple Cash? By pissing away your paycheck, you’re paying the wages of people who help cripples like me get our asses out of bed. And then the government can take all the tax money cripples eat up and give it to those who need it most. The rich

This sort of funding scheme ought to satisfy even the libertarians, who firmly believe that no government should be able to force its citizens to be decent human beings against their will. When someone buys a cripple cash lottery ticket, they are yielding their hard-earned money to the public treasury voluntarily! So the libertarians can shut the fuck up!

But this scheme scares me because it’s so cutthroat. When it comes to persuading citizens to piss away their paychecks on us, cripples will face stiff competition from the likes of abused and neglected children or old people who need new hips. They will also have their own lotteries.  The competition will all devolve into a titanic p.r. battle of poster children for each needy line item—a grotesque telethon.

If we must find new, non-coercive, revenue streams to fund the things cripples need, I propose a Kardashian  tax.  I mean, if somebody buys a skirt or something just because the Kardashians put their name on it, they deserve to pay extra. Except I wouldn’t want to link this tax to any one specific celebrity, because what happens when their designer stuff is inevitably swept into the discount bin of history?  Let’s just make it a general Vacuous Celebrity Items sales tax. That way we can slap this tax on everything from perfume to basketball shoes. That ought to bring in billions! All proceeds support cripples. 

 But what I want most of all is to put dibs on the pot concession. Make pot legal, hang a big fat sales tax on it and pass the money on to the cripples. That ought to set us up quite well for a good long time. It’s a cash stream that will never run dry. There will always be potheads. You can count on that.