Throwdown Thursday: The Lottery
No, not Shirley Jackson’s lottery. No townspeople will be harmed in today’s post. We’re talking Powerball, MegaMillions, and their ilk. Any lottery with a really big life-changing jackpot. Momus and I are not big lottery players. We buy maybe 3 tickets a year, generally for our birthdays or if the jackpot has gotten historically, crazy huge. But here’s the thing: Momus claims that he would not want to win the lottery. You read that right. The man is clearly clinically insane. I will let him present his addled position.
Momus: I would like to start off by saying, I expect zero support on this issue.
It’s not that I would not like the money to feel a bit more comfortable. But so much money that I would never have to worry about making ends meet again just seems the recipe for tedium and ruin. Having to get by in life through your own efforts provides some motivation and meaning. Throw 50 million dollars at me, yeah, I could have a lot of fun and support the substance abuse of slackers for generations to come (my genes already bend that way), but where is the challenge in that?
Cassandra: But how can you give up the dream of being able to quit your job and build a dream house and travel the world? Do you really want to work your current job until you’re 80 years old? Wouldn’t you prefer to do something more fun and interesting with your time? You could stop worrying about college and retirement and whether you’re going to be able to make ends meet when you’re old. Who doesn’t want that?
Momus: Yeah, I’d like a new career, and I’d love opportunities that could take me in that direction. But to be just given a blank check and told “Hey, do whatever you want” seems to cheapen the whole experience of life. The struggles we go through and compromises we make are the things that define us. With $50M I know what would start to define me: sloth and unbridled hedonism. It wouldn’t be pretty.
Cassandra: I’ll take the money thank you very much. I would love to have a life of sloth and hedonism. And I think you’re fooling yourself if you say that you would not. Be honest now wouldn’t a little more fun be fun?
Momus: Of course it would, but we have a lot of fun now too, don’t we? How much fun becomes too much fun and not enough grounding? And I know you wouldn’t like a life of sloth. You’d be bored in seconds, although you would definitely find something to worry about. OK, hedonism, yeah we’d go all Lindsay Lohan on the hedonism part. And therein lies the problem/danger.
Certainly, there is the option to give all or most of it away to meaningful causes, but that’s a cheat in this scenario. It might as well be the diabetic penguins (my younger daughter’s favorite fictional charity) that hit the winning ticket.
Cassandra: I don’t think that’s a cheat at all! If I won the lottery, I would definitely create a charity. Administering it and doing good for diabetic penguins everywhere would give my life meaning and be a driver of my future activities. Well, that and visiting every country in the world and tasting every Shiraz, Rhone, and Tempranillo I could find. Oh, and watching Netflix in my personal home theater with a 10 foot screen and giant cushy seats.
Excuse me, I gotta go buy a lottery ticket.
Momus: Thank you for making my point for me. By the time you woke from your red wine and exotic opium haze (please steer clear of Bill Cosby when you are in that state), you’ll be 85 years old and wondering why you just re-watched Facts of Life in its entirety without breaking for a meal or to change your Depends. If you had the energy at that point, you’d be angrily stomping penguins to death in your existential fury.
Too much wealth is just too dangerous (see 79.2% of rich, famous people).
Cassandra: But I’d be one of the smart wealthy people. I promise I would. And not at all famous.
Momus: Well, what would really happen will likely remain a mystery. By the way, I’m 57.7% sure I’m completely full of shit about this.