Teaching our Children to Lose the Lottery

Everyone knows that math education in public schools in this country is pathetic. If you looked at this problem from an economics point of view, the first question would be, “Qui prodest?.”

Who profits from bad math education? I know one place — the lottery. People who understand how the lottery works rarely buy tickets. They might buy an occasional ticket as entertainment, but never as an investment. No wonder they say that the lottery is a tax on people bad at math.

Huge money from lotteries goes to states and towns, and a big portion of that goes to education. That means towns, schools and math teachers have direct financial incentive not to provide good math education. This conflict of interest creates a situation in which, in the long run, it is profitable for schools to hire very poor math teachers or cut their math programs.

The situation is unethical. I think that lottery organizers should at least pretend that they are resolving this conflict and spend part of the lottery money to educate people not to play the lottery.



  1. Felipe Pait:

    Nice idea! Tobacco companies are expected to spend money on anti-smoking campaign. Why shouldn’t lotteries fund math education?

    It would be a nice proposal for a state law, now that Massachusetts wants to allow gambling.

  2. Misha:

    Here is another blog entry giving another analysis by another Russian-born mathematician who had spent some time teaching in the US (the land of the intellectually mutilated). It should be taken with a grain of salt, but in my opinion it explains why so many people remind me of that cruel experiment with the kittens who were blindfolded shortly after birth, while they were still blind, for a few weeks, and the visual cortex of their brains had never developed properly, so they had never developed a proper vision. Enjoy and don’t despair.

  3. M.F.H.:

    I had some similar thoughts, cf. e.g.

  4. Misha:

    I messed up the link in my previous comment, here is the roght one.

Leave a comment