"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

"There is a growing technology of testing that permits us now to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn't be doing at all." - Dr. Gerald Bracey author of Rotten Apples in Education

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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

What Does It Say About You When You Give A Lottery Ticket for Christmas?

If you listen to the radio these days you can’t help but hear ads to give someone a Missouri Lottery ticket for Christmas.  And if you are at all philanthropically inclined, the MO lottery looks like a good place to spend your extra holiday dough.  They give to Missouri education. These are the top three educational areas that received funding from the MO lottery this year:

$117,879,552 (3% total program funding TPF)  Foundation Program
These funds help pay for the Foundation Formula, transportation, early childhood special education services, Career Ladder, vocational education and early childhood development.

$19,590,000 (67  % TPF)  Special Education Excess Costs
The "High-Need Fund" was established to reimburse school districts for the educational costs of serving children with individualized education programs exceeding three times the current expenditure per average daily attendance. This fund will be both disability- and placement-neutral, creating a safety net for school districts that have no way of projecting the extraordinary cost of certain high-need students.

$12,160,473 (100% TPF)  Classroom Trust Fund
The fund consists of all monies transferred to it under section 160.534, RSMo, all monies otherwise appropriated or donated to it and all unclaimed Lottery prize money. The money deposited into the fund is distributed to each school district in the state qualified to receive state aid on an average daily attendance basis. The funds distributed shall be spent at the discretion of the local school districts.

Other areas that received funding are:

$7,768,606 (77% TPF)      Public Placement Excess Cost Program
$4,331,325 (29% TPF)      Performance-Based Assessment Program (MAP)
$1,400,000 (3% TPF)        Vocational Rehabilitation Program
$390,000 (55% TPF)         Virtual Schools
$100,000 (100% TPF)       Character Education Initiatives

That’s a total of $271 million for Missouri education.  Who says we don’t spend enough on education?   Still, I can’t help but ask what it really means if you give a lottery ticket.

  • “Here.  I only care enough to spend 2 bucks on you for a worthless piece of paper that has exactly 3 seconds of potential enjoyment.”
  • “I’m giving you a gift that, should it prove more valuable than the $2 I spent, will cause a long lasting uneasiness in our  relationship as we try to decide how much of that gift you are then obligated to share with me.”
  • “Because I care so much about you, I’m giving you a gift that has a long documented history of ruining people’s lives.”

Missourian Janite Lee won $18 million in 1993. The South Korean immigrant was generous with her winnings using them to pay for educational programs, community services, and political organizations.  Lee was reported to donate $277,000 to Democratic political candidates so that she could have dinner with Bill Clinton, Al Gore and President of South Korea.  She also bought million-dollar houses and cars. Lee gambled $347,000 a year away which is not a surprise for someone who got their money through gambling. She was eventually forced to file for bankruptcy with a paltry $700 left in her account.

Other lottery winner stories are similar:

Evelyn Adams won the New Jersey lottery not just once but twice (1985, 1986) to the tune of $5.4 million. Today the money is all gone and Adams lives in a trailer. "Everybody wanted my money. Everybody had their hand out. I never learned one simple word in the English language -- 'No.'

 William "Bud" Post won $16.2 million in the Pennsylvania lottery in 1988 but now lives on his Social Security ($450 a month) and food stamps.  "I wish it never happened. It was totally a nightmare."

Suzanne Mullins won $4.2 million in the Virginia lottery in 1993. Now she's deeply in debt to a company that lent her money using the winnings as collateral.  

Ken Proxmire was a machinist when he won $1 million in the Michigan lottery. He moved to California, went into the car business with his brothers and within five years, Ken had filed for bankruptcy.  "Dad's now back to work as a machinist," says his son.

Willie Hurt of Lansing, Mich., won $3.1 million in 1989. Two years later he was broke and charged with murder. His lawyer says Hurt spent his fortune on a divorce and crack cocaine.

 One Southeastern family won $4.2 million in the early '90s. They bought a huge house and succumbed to repeated family requests for help in paying off debts. The house, cars and relatives ate the whole pot. Eleven years later, the couple is divorcing, the house is sold, and they have to split what is left of the lottery proceeds. "It was not the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow," says their financial advisor.

Jeffrey Dampier won $20 million in the Illinois Lottery in 1986. Upon receiving his prize, the generous winner immediately began showering friends and family with expensive gifts including cars, houses and exotic journeys. Unfortunately, on July 26, 2005 Dampier’s sister-in-law and her boyfriend kidnapped the millionaire and shot him in the back of the head, which killed him instantly.

Billie Bob Harrel Jr. won a $31 million Texas jackpot in 1997. First, he bought a ranch, six houses for himself and family, and some new cars. Like many winners, he had trouble saying no to those who ask for his funds. As a result, Harrell’s life became too stressful to handle. Twenty months after becoming a millionaire, he committed suicide.

Jack Whittaker, a 55-year-old man in West Virginia, hit nearly $315 million in the Powerball Lottery on December 26, 2002. A few months later, thieves broke into his car and stole $545,000 while he was visiting a strip club. A year after claiming his prize, Whittaker was arrested for threatening the life of a bar manager. And by the end of the year, his 17-year-old granddaughter whom he had been giving a $2,100 weekly allowance was found dead of drug overdose. His daughter - mother of the dead granddaughter – died afterwards of as-yet-undetermined causes.

Yep.  If it weren’t for the educational funding, it would be hard to justify a lottery purchase for a stocking stuffer.

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