Swickard: Bet you don’t win the lottery

© 2013 Michael Swickard, Ph.D. In our world it is a good bet that more education leads to more wealth. And, math education seems to bring wealth the best. Certainly the lack of math ability leads to less wealth. Being numerate, as the literacy of numbers is called, is lacking in our population.
     Many of our fellow citizens have no savings for the future, no investments; rather, their plan for old age is to win the lottery. While I agree with the adage, “No dreamer too small, no dream too big,” there are limits.
     Numerate people do not make the mistake of believing in the lottery any more than they believe that one day in Wal-Mart a movie producer will stop and point at them, “Him, I want him to star in my next movie.” This is like jumping out of an airplane without a parachute with the intention of landing on something soft.
     The New Mexico Lottery, under the guise of raising money for education, preys on math challenged people. Their advertisements suggest riches will shower upon you if you buy a lottery ticket. Unlikely.
     Currently there is concern in New Mexico that not enough fools, er, dreamers are buying lottery tickets and there is not enough money for college students. This is entirely the fault of the institutions of higher learning in New Mexico who doubled and tripled their tuition so that the money from the lottery is not enough.
     But I have a solution. The proceeds from this tax on people who don’t understand math at this point goes to college general education, in fact, anything the student wants to study. Remember, the tobacco settlement funds anti-smoking campaigns. You want to know what I think? The New Mexico Lottery should go directly and entirely to math education in New Mexico.
     Every dollar should be channeled to making New Mexico students the envy of the nation when it comes to math. If people can buy lottery tickets with the expectation of winning, they are showing their lack of math education. We should take their obvious lack of numerate ability and use it constructively so future generations in New Mexico do not end up in the same condition. Read full column