The fiscal cliff. We hear the expression describing the looming Jan. 1 deadline where broad spending cuts agreed to when the Congressional “supercommittee” failed to reach any deal on large-scale deficit reduction and the end to Bush-era tax cuts take affect at the same time.
The national debt has reached an all-time high of $16.4 trillion. It’s so high that it’s almost too big to contemplate how we as a nation would ever be able to rein in costs and boost revenues to balance out that number. According to one calculation, every American owns $52,500 of that debt (if you include the entire U.S. population).
Consider on the other hand, Powerball. An equally staggering amount of money, depending on the week, is funneled into a chance at winning a fraction of the total annuity. In 2012 alone, the Powerball annuity was worth $2.37 billion, according to their website.
Just a few weeks ago many in North Carolina were considering the purchase of a $2 chance to win a portion of the $587.5 million Powerball. The cash payout of $384.7 million was split between two winning tickets. Both amounts are the second-largest in American lottery history.
Here’s another staggering number, $2 billion. That’s the amount raised by both candidates in the 2012 presidential election.
What were the purchasers of lottery tickets and contributors to campaigns really getting for their money? Both only offer a chance, a stake at something better. If you were lucky enough to have the winning numbers, you could take home millions. If your candidate is elected, you can hope that the winner will find a way to solve our debt woes. Either way, you have no guarantee of a return on your investment.
Here’s an idea for a new venture where one can combine the thrill of the roll of the dice with the need to solve our nation’s debt crisis. The Deficit Lottery.
Just think, for the cost of a cup of Joe at the corner store you can wager on the national debt with full assurance that the payout would be a direct and immediate credit towards that debt and an end to the media obsession with “the cliff”.
One would argue that at least with the lottery, someone wins something. True, but when you play the Deficit Lottery, everyone wins.