Lottery ‘promise’ fulfilled
March 20, 2006
I doubt if it will surprise you to learn that, in South Carolina, those who can afford it the least spend the most on the lottery. Because North Carolina is about to begin its own lottery program, the Charlotte Observer analyzed four years of data from its neighbor to the south and found that the poor not only spend a higher proportion of their incomes on lottery tickets, they spend more money than other income groups.
Duke University public policy professor Philip Cook, who has studied lotteries, told the Observer that in most states, the dollar amount spent on lotteries generally does not fluctuate much over income brackets. But in South Carolina, the Observer found that lower-income people spend more – a lot more. People earning less than $30,000 a year spent an estimated $627 per household annually, nearly triple the spending of those making more than $50,000.
Cook said it's not immediately clear why that is, but he says race could be a factor. Cook said minorities have historically been over-represented among lottery players. In South Carolina, households with the same income levels in predominantly black neighborhoods generally spent more money than people in predominantly white neighborhoods.
About 70 percent of South Carolina’s lottery profits are given to higher education, and most of that in the form of Life, Hope and Palmetto scholarships based on SAT scores and grade point averages. Unfortunately, not too many poor black kids are in those groups.
To review, the South Carolina Lottery is a scheme that tricks poor uneducated black people into paying for the college education of smart, middle-class white kids. Some people tried to warn that this would be the effect, but they were largely dismissed as right-wing religious extremists, using racial stereotypes to try to deprive poor people of a better education.
Teacher ‘assaults’ disruptive student
It’s probably unwise and unfair to prejudge the validity of an alleged criminal offense based on a newspaper report, but if I were in the jury pool assigned to hear the case of an elementary school teacher in Richland County, the prosecution would likely kick me out of the pool.
My first reaction is to sympathize with the teacher, Caroline W. Smith, who is accused of simple assault and battery on an eight-year-old student. One witness, a school employee, told authorities that Smith held the “victim” with both hands about his shoulders and shoved him into his chair repeatedly.
Repeatedly? How could a teacher shove a student into his chair “repeatedly” unless each time she shoved him into his chair, he stood up, thus defying and challenging her?
I’m going to talk with the teacher’s lawyer this afternoon (at 4:05 p.m.). I hope you’ll listen in. Obviously, he’s only going to tell us one side of the story, but I still want to hear it. The lawyer is Dick Harpootlian, former chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party. He is quoted by The State newspaper as saying, “If we’re not going to allow teachers to interfere with a disruptive 8-year-old, then we might as well shut our schools down.”
I couldn’t agree more. If we can get more liberals to agree on this, we might actually be able to solve one of public education’s big problems.
It’s the competence stupid
James “cue-ball” Carville will always be known for one thing and one thing only. He’s the political operative who coined the phrase, “it’s the economy stupid,” and by doing so, helped Bill Clinton win the presidency in 1992.
For several months, I’ve been telling my friends that the winning theme of the 2008 presidential election is going to be “it’s the competency stupid.” In my years of covering and predicting politics, I’ve never been more sure of anything.
Democrats are the first to latch on to the theme, but that doesn’t mean that they will be the ones to ride it to victory. The next President will be someone with administrative experience and a record of competence.
Conservative ideologues like myself are irreparably disillusioned. We installed a Republican Congress in 1994 and gave them a Republican President in 2000. They have been the biggest ideological disappointment in the history of politics. Many of us have permanently given up on Republicans as conservative reformers. If they surprise us someday, we’ll be pleased and supportive, but we no longer expect it. We’re hopeful, but not stupid.
The Bush administration has not just disappointed on reform issues. It has disappointed on more mundane fronts, from Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers to the Dubai ports deal. Being disillusioned is one thing. Being disillusioned and embarrassed is another. Many conservatives are ready to elect a president who simply knows how to make the trains run on time, even if we disagree with him on reform issues, because we no longer trust anyone to reform government.
That’s why former New York Mayor Rudi Giuliani is the man to watch.