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October 5, 1999


Lottery as Charity

Alabama voters will decide on October 12 whether or not they want a lottery designed to pay for pre-kindergarten programs, public school computers and college tuition. Arguments against a lottery can be summarized as: (1) gambling in any form is immoral; (2) and besides it won't work. It's a pity that we don't hear both objections at the same time. This debate would benefit from some humor.

Bob Goodman, executive director of the United States Gambling Research Institute claims that people with low incomes tend to view a lottery as an investment. Those in upper- income brackets see it as entertainment. But the proposed education lottery can be thought of in a third way, as charity.

Many people are surprised to learn that raffles are illegal in Alabama. They are surprised because buying a raffle ticket is an informal form of charity. We don't expect to win, but we certainly don't mind if we do. A raffle is fun, and worthy organizations benefit from the proceeds.

The education lottery shares important traits with a raffle. The price of a ticket is small. No thoughtful person expects to win, but still the thought of winning is thrilling. Profits go to the worthy cause of education. Perhaps we should change the name to the Alabama Education Raffle and sell tickets door to door.

Opponents of the proposed lottery complain that it appeals to the weakness of human beings as well as to their base nature. On the contrary, an education lottery viewed with rationality and good humor appeals to the best in us.

-- by Dan Silver

Life Forms by Dan Silver

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Letters to the Editor

Dear Editor,

I am writing to stress the importance of the upcoming October 12 referendum to my fellow University of South Alabama students, faculty, and administration. The Alabama Education Lottery Amendment initiated by Governor Siegelman, which will be voted on October 12, will be a pivotal vote for Alabama's future. The amendment will determine if Alabama will have pre-kindergarten programs for Alabama's four-year-old children and a strong foundation in reading, math, science, and the arts. The Education Lottery will also provide technology including computers in every public school that will be connected to the Internet. Finally, this plan will offer each student who works hard and maintains a "B" average and stays out of trouble, free tuition, through Hope Scholarships. With this Scholarship the student has the opportunity to attend any state college or university. With the future of our children and the state of Alabama riding on the October 12 vote, "How can we say no?" We must not deny our children the opportunity to reach the height of their potential. We must stand up for our children by voting YES to Amendment 1, the Alabama Education Lottery Amendment. If you want to help change education in Alabama forever, please call 341-4378 for more information.

Major Click
Junior, Political Science
University of South Alabama

Dear Editor,

Recently Huntsville Public Hospital terminated its First Community Health Plan after losing $17 million the first four years of its operation. As a result thousands of people in Madison County are stranded, apprehensive of how they will pay health care bills in the future. Now I hear that a health maintenance plan for Medicaid patients in Mobile is in financial trouble. These are no longer isolated occurrences. It’s happening everywhere, with the same tragic results. We are one step closer to the realization that profit-motivated health care is a contradiction in terms. Surely, the time must not be far distant when we will be forced to recognize that the only rational solution to a problem that has plagued the nation throughout this century is health care as a fundamental human right.

But this a political as well as a health problem and until political power passes from the few to the many, resulting in the adoption of a universal health care system that is publicly funded and controlled by “we, the people,” we may expect the existing abysmal situation to worsen. Did someone mutter “But that’s socialism!”? Then so be it. Let the poor and the “middle class,” at least in the matter of health care and education, share in the good increasingly enjoyed by only the rich and the near rich.

John Dewey recognized long ago that “a morals based on study of human nature instead of upon disregard for it would find the facts of man continuous with those of the rest of nature and...would enable us to state problems in such forms that action could be courageously and intelligently directed to their solution.” But he was also shrewd enough to recognize that “no amount of preaching good will or the golden rule or cultivation of sentiments of love and equity will accomplish the results. There must be changes in objective arrangements and institutions....To think otherwise is to suppose that flowers can be raised in a desert or motor cars run in a jungle. Both things can happen and without a miracle. But only by first changing the jungle and desert.”

In a word, the leaders of institutions purporting to represent the interests of “we, the people” -- the retired and aged; workers on production lines and at their computers and behind sales counters; small business owners; professionals, etc. -- must educate and dedicate themselves to bringing water to the desert and cutting roads through the jungles. Voices now silent, and status seekers in the service of the status quo, must be re-educated and re- programmed to serve a higher cause if good health care and solid education are ever to belong to the people. Only the wee, small people at the bottom of those institutional heaps will suffice to bring that about. But who is there to awaken them?

Townsend L. Walker, Sr.
Huntsville, Alabama

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