Lottery, Taxes, the Poor, and Dan Brown

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Link to video

This is a response to a video blog by Dan Brown  Go watch it first.  It’s good but not essential to the post.

Dan I have a few problems with part of your video that talks about the lottery being a tax.  Let me get a few quick things out of the way before I get into what really bothered me.

A tax on the poor would be something that poor people couldn’t avoid paying, like sales tax on clothing and groceries. It’s not exclusively poor or the poorly educated that buy lottery tickets.  And the state lottery is gambling run for the State.  Funds, depending on the state, go toward specific causes such as college scholarships or wildlife protection.  In my state I can choose to by a lottery ticket for “The High” knowing that a good percent is going towards Wildlife.

What really hit me in your video was when you said this. (At 3:00) “If you grow up in poverty there’s a higher chance that when you’re an adult you will not have the mental capacity to realize ‘Oh, the lottery might not be a good idea.’”  Did you catch it?  “The poor will not have the “Mental Capacity.”  Not “Less educated” or “No opportunity.” If you grow up poor you are more likely to have less mental capacity.  Let me rephrase it for those without the mental capacity to understand what Dan Brown was saying.  Poor people are too stupid to know better.

I know Dan might have had a slip of phrasing and he did use “A higher chance” to protect himself from stereotyping.  But this issue of poor being classified as having less capacity for learning than non-poor people just gnaws at my soul.  Just because you are poor does not mean you do not have the mental capacity to be a rocket scientist.  It can mean you didn’t have an opportunity to become a rocket scientist.  Just like being rich does not mean you will have great mental capacity. (*Cough* Paris Hilton *Cough* Cast of Jersey Shore *Cough*)

Yes, growing up poor can hurt important factors like nutrition and childhood development.  But saying poor people have less mental capacity is like saying it to blacks under slavery or Jim Crow laws.  Of course African Americans were seen as mentally inferior to Whites, they didn’t have any opportunity to prove otherwise. The cycle feeds itself when they then don’t educate them.

Today there is a segment of the population in the U.S. that if you are poor it is mainly because you are dumb and lazy.  Your worth to humanity as a whole is defined by your paycheck.  If you can’t feed yourself on what you make you deserve to starve.  Cut off services to the poor and they’ll pull themselves up.  Even if that was true for 90% percent of the poor, (It is not.) that leaves 10% to die.

At one point in your 3.0 experiment, Dan, I saw your financial situation slipping.  What if you didn’t get a media gig like the one at Fuse?  You could have been a poor person with no higher education.  You would still have the same “mental capacity” that you have now.  It just would have been filled with how to survive instead of what music you should I talk about.  Maybe you would have bought a lottery ticket to give you mind a release of endorphins instead of making a video on how the lottery is a tax.

Words matter.  Saying less education or opportunities implies solutions of better education and opportunity.  Saying less mental capacity suggests no solution, no way out.  I care about you Dan.  I am tough on you in responses because you can take it and I want you to be a better person.

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One thought on “Lottery, Taxes, the Poor, and Dan Brown

  1. While I do think you raise a valid point, I think that Dan was more trying to emphasize the fact that the poor generally receive lower quality education than the rich do. Obviously, going to Stanford is going to make you smarter than if you went to a community college in your hometown. I don’t think Dan was saying “Poor people are dumber because they’re poor”, but more he was saying “poor people have less ways to educate themselves, and grow up without the same level of education as a lot of the rest of the US.

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