6/17/2012

Lotto May Be Likened To A Form Of Voluntary Taxation

Author's note. What follows is a lengthy article which may bore you. Skip this post if you like; otherwise, proceed reading. I'd appreciate it. 

Part of our society finds playing lotto “immoral” for the reason that it is a form of gambling. I won't argue with that instead, respect its opinion. If the government legalized gambling, like lottery and casino, it doesn't make legal gambling “morally” acceptable and illegal gambling “immorally” acceptable. (Illegal gambling is gambling without legal permit.)

It's a matter of point of view. It depends on factors on how some people were brought up. If they were brought up by a conservative family, church or religion, they may find lotto either “immoral”, nasty, or bad influence depending on the degree of their family's or church's conservatism.

Conservatism is the unwillingness to accept changes and new ideas. Without change, there is no growth and development. Imagine if change is constant. If you don't go with it, you will be left alone in the Jurassic park. Either you eat with the dinosaurs, or the dinosaurs eat you.

Some countries like Monte Carlo, and states like Las Vegas legalized casino gambling in order to sustain their economic growth. Singapore, a religiously influenced country, legalized casino gambling in 2009 because of the economic benefits that it will bring to the country. For that reason, does economic survival and growth justify legalized gambling? No. Because there may be other means. Yes. Simply because of change. Embracing change, however, should not be abused. It should be accepted responsibly. In Singapore, not all of its citizens are allowed to gamble.

The Catholic Church disagreed with the government about legalising lottery in the Philippines back in 1995. It is the Church's moral obligation for her Christians to express what she believes, not to judge anyone immoral, but to push the government to come up with better ideas. On the other hand, the government also has obligations to the Filipino citizens to make her country economically sustainable. If a lottery system can add economic benefits to the country, why not go for it? And so, lottery was legalised in the Philippines and considered moral responsibility by implementing certain restrictions like: minors are not allowed to play; and the lotto outlet should be 100 meters away from any school or place of worship. Such restrictions may be too weak for the point of view of the church, but perhaps, democracy was considered by the government.

Lotto is not a form of taxation neither is an alternative means to collect taxes; but, it may be likened to something similar and be even better than taxation. Provided, however, that the funds collected from the lottery should go to the charity. It further becomes argumentative though because “the end does not justify the means.” If you look at it, do gambling and charity go together?

In taxation, the revenue bureau collects taxes according to your income. The higher the income, the higher the tax. Further, depending on your economic status, your tax due goes lower. Those with lower or no income at all are exempted from paying taxes. If you don't pay your taxes, you go to jail. The problem is: not every one, especially those with huge income, pay taxes. The next problem is:  not all taxes go to the state's beneficiary, which is us. There is no assurance that the public's money do not land on some corrupt hands.

Playing lotto on the other hand has freedom. You are not obliged to play. If you don't have money, you can't play. Your purchasing power dictates how much you play. Those who earn more, play more. Those on a tight budget spend less. Moreover, you are assured that your money goes to the charity.

If a street vendor, for example, earns only P50 a day, he is exempted from paying taxes. Suppose, he plays a P10-lotto once a week, in a year he has contributed P540 to the charity fund. Isn't he a better citizen than a professional practitioner who does not pay his taxes correctly?

Imagine a millionaire who doesn't declare his true income; but when he plays lotto, he spends P10,000 a week. In a year, he has contributed P540,000 to the charity fund. Regardless of his true intention in playing lotto, at least, what he doesn't give to the revenue bureau, he gives it to the charity office by default.

The lottery system, therefore, is a good form to collect money from citizens including from the tourists because everyone can play. Play big or small, rich or poor, like it or unlike it, in the end, you give something to charity. You know where your money is going. And as an incentive, you can win a million bucks if you get lucky. If not, at least you have given something for the good cause.

Look at lotto this way. Think of lotto as a raffle rather than a gamble. Perceive it as fund raising rather than legal gambling. Shift your goal to charity rather than winning. In case you win, consider it your reward for giving.

Should you win the jackpot, remember that part of those moneys comes from poor hands who hoped that, one day, may have a better life. Be generous, not by giving away your money unwisely and irresponsibly, but by creating jobs. That way you pay your blessings forward rather than consume them to waste. And always remember, that whoever wins, pray that he or she is a person of kindness and generosity.

1 Thing Leads 2 Another