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Miscellaneous Rambling

The new podcast is up. You can access it at The Weekly Eudemon podcast page: Zen, the "Fall" of Rome, Small Talk, Drinking with Commies, More. If you have an iTunes account, please subscribe to it and leave a favorable review. Remember: Subscribe to The Weekly Eudemon (not "TWE," which is the old feed that will be discontinued soon).

I think my discussion about the fall of the Roman Empire could've been 90 seconds shorter, but otherwise, I'm happy with the way the episode came out.

Ceiling. Trastevere

About ten years ago, I sat down during vacation and cranked out a collection of mini-essays regarding books I had greatly enjoyed. I never did anything with the essays, but I had developed a solid, if small, core of work: 16 essays. I decided to post them all to the new Eudemon Podcast page. If you care to check them out, click here.

Ceiling. Trastevere

I found this article a little disturbing: Why The Mega Millions Jackpot Is Nothing But Another Tax On America's Poor. Excerpts:

American adults spent an average of $251 on lottery tickets last year. With a return of 53 cents on the dollar, this means the average person threw away $118 on unsuccessful lotto tickets.
More than 5% of lottery winners declare bankruptcy within 5 years of taking home the jackpot. Despite their drawbacks, though, lotteries are no doubt here for the long haul ”“ in states that have lotteries, an average of 11% of their total revenues come from lottery ticket sales, and the number is even as high as 36% in 2 states (West Virginia and Michigan).
It's difficult to pinpoint exactly who is investing so much money in a product that provides poor returns, but numerous studies show that lower-income people spend a much greater proportion of their earnings on lotteries than do wealthier people. One figure suggests that households making less than $13,000 a year spend a full 9 percent of their income on lotteries. This of course makes no sense ”“ poor people should be the least willing to waste their hard-earned cash on games with such terrible odds of winning.

Now, I'm a long-time opponent of any sort of Prohibitionism that grounds itself on the principle that the poor are too stupid to take care of themselves. (1) I don't believe it, and (2) It's demeaning to the poor. To use a current phrase, it "deprives the poor of their agency."

But: There are now plenty of places to gamble in the United States (30 states now have casinos), and most casinos offer far better odds than 53-freakin'-percent: The payback percentage in most casino machines is in the 90- to 97-percent range.

So why do states advertise their lotteries so heavily? I think we all know the answer to that. The mere fact that we all know the answer and don't find it disturbing, is itself a bit disturbing.