The maxim printed above was authored by Paul Jarrett, my friend in Phoenix. This ancient Phoenician is longer in the tooth than a sabre-tooth tiger and keen as mustard in the brain department. He locates himself as somewhat to the right of Barry Goldwater, an American conservative to make today’s Tea Partiers blush pink in comparison.
The Jarrett advice rings painfully true, not just of lottery tickets, but of gambling generally. I have seen lives ruined by the winning of a lottery; lives lost to suicide by failure to win at the track, the casino, the local gambling shop. I have known a stockbroker, a man of conscience and long experience, his retirement ruined by the depressive illness that followed losses – not his own, his clients’ – who gambled on the Exchange. I have seen desperate ugg-booted women in curlers, seated joylessly playing poker machines at 6.00 am.
Here’s a farmer that hanged himself on expectation of plenty…*
Last week’s paper told of a poor Sydney resident, shackled to menial employment by his immigrant’s accent, learn with resentment of a neighbour’s lottery prize. The immigrant kidnapped the winner’s son for ransom. In chloroforming him he inadvertently killed him. In one act the kidnapper lost his ‘prize’ and a father lost his son. In the next act the kidnapper lost his freedom for life.
I am in short, that miserable, un-australian being, a wowser. Like Paul Jarrett I was never very good at Math…
*From the porter scene in Macbeth
I’m not sure being good at maths is protection against addiction. I fear that gambling is a very nasty form of conditioning. We know that random or intermittent reinforcement has an even more potent effect on the brain than regular and predictable reinforcement, and is much more difficult to cure.
I was never good at maths.! our eldest son IS very good at maths., but he’s also a poker machine addict! I detest gambling!