A welfare lottery ban proposed in North Carolina has become a viral internet debate (with most coming down in favor of the strangely invasive and paternalistic measure) and remains a sad example of how Americans have taken to blaming and demonizing the poor for enduring economic frailty.
The welfare lottery ban seems to be one of a continual stream of GOP proposals to stigmatize, humiliate or otherwise micromanage the lives of those who rely on public assistance to get by. (It should be noted for the record that when it’s counter-proposed that lawmakers who also rely on public money for salary be similarly sanctioned, they balk.)
An earlier post on The Inquisitr about the welfare lottery ban has attracted a decent amount of attention — with nearly all comments in favor of such a measure, despite the relative small amount we spend on public assistance as a country. Similar posts about food stamps and other forms of poverty help draw the same reaction, with a strongly voiced desire to see suffering and restriction heaped upon the impoverished, many of whom are the working poor.
Here’s how the inevitable support goes — if you have the money for lottery tickets, you shouldn’t be on welfare, right? Well, wrong. Lottery tickets are a fairly cheap thrill for the impoverished, and even the very, very financially strapped usually set a few dollars aside each week for entertainment. Moreover, the level of intrusiveness required — the lawmaker who proposed the initiative has stated “poor people” may not understand the unlikely chance of a lottery win — is both foolhardy and stereotypical in its assumption.
Rep. Paul Stam, the Republican congressman responsible, has introduced a proposal that sounds entirely ideological in both theory and execution. Of the welfare lottery ban, it would involve a clerk intuiting at the point of purchase whether an individual is likely on welfare — we’re sure that won’t be applied in any racist ways — and humiliatingly asking whether or not they receive public assistance before selling a lotto ticket to them.
As far as we can tell, no sanction will be applied should a clerk sell a lottery ticket to a welfare recipient — it’s merely a proposed bit of legislation to remind poor people that they are far less entitled to privacy than their fellows, one more unnecessary humiliation heaped upon a population consisting of many (children of suspected food stamp recipients, the disabled, the elderly) with no domain over whether or not they remain poor.