Lotteries: We're All Winners!

This article from the NY Times describes a study which argues in favor of lotteries. The study found that simply imagining you could win has beneficial psychological effects.

“The people who denigrate lottery players are like 10-year-olds who are disgusted by the idea of sex: they are numb to its pleasures, so they say it’s not rational,” said Lloyd Cohen, a professor of law at George Mason University and author of an economic analysis, “Lotteries, Liberty and Legislatures,” who is himself a gambler and a card counter.

Dr. Cohen argues that lottery tickets are not an investment but a disposable consumer purchase, which changes the equation radically. Like a throwaway lifestyle magazine, lottery tickets engage transforming fantasies: a wine cellar, a pool, a vision of tropical blues and white sand. The difference is that the ticket can deliver.

That sounds more like an argument in favor of lifestyle magazines. Sure, you can’t buy them for a buck, but the pictures are prettier.

If the real benefit of lottery tickets comes from your imagination, couldn’t you just, um, use your imagination? Since when do I need to pay the someone a buck for the privilege of daydreaming that I have a boat?

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