The Corner

Lotteries, Ctd.

It seems fairly obvious that competition among private-sector lotteries would tend to increase the payout-to-price ratio. That seems like a fairly clear consumer harm from a state monopoly. As for the government’s getting the money from another source: That’s not the way conservatives usually look at the creation of new revenue streams. When a state without an income tax proposes to create one, we don’t say, Oh well, if we don’t go along with this they’ll just raise property taxes. And we’re right not to view it this way. Revenue should be raised in a way that forces governmental restraint. Having a bunch of little revenue streams, rather than one large tax, makes it easier for government to grow. That’s especially true when a revenue stream is not felt as an exaction by the payer.

To put it another way: I like taxes that generate tax revolts from time to time. That’s why I’d prefer state governments rely on property taxes rather than sales taxes. And it’s why state lotteries seem like an especially bad idea.

Ramesh Ponnuru — Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

Basta La Vista, Baby

Dear Reader (And especially Martha McSally’s dog), As I often note, I increasingly tend to see the political scene as a scripted reality show in which the writers don’t flesh out the dialogue so much as move characters into weird, wacky, confrontational, or embarrassing positions. It’s a lot like The ... Read More
Education

Betsy DeVos Strikes a Blow for the Constitution

The Department of Education has issued its long-awaited proposed regulations reforming sexual-assault adjudications on college campus. Not only will these rules restore basic due process and fairness to college tribunals, but they also — given how basic the changes are — highlight just how ridiculous ... Read More
Politics & Policy

ABC News Makes a Serious Mistake

Today, across Twitter, I began to see a number of people condemning the Trump administration (and Betsy DeVos, specifically) for imposing a new definition of sexual assault on campus so strict that it would force women to prove that they were so harassed that they'd been chased off campus and couldn't return. ... Read More