Editor: The following is a weekly 60 Minutes commentary by CBS News correspondent Andy Rooney, originally broadcast on March 19, 2006, and re-broadcast last night.
The study that Rooney quotes, saying that poor people gamble the most, is completely false. All credible studies show that all demographics gamble roughly the same amount. Rooney's commentary is shown here to illustrate the ignorant and myopic arguments of some anti-lottery critics.
I suppose it's true that I'm too easily annoyed but there is nothing that annoys me more than the story we all see every couple of weeks about someone who has won the lottery. Newspapers and television ought to charge for advertising lottery winners.
The most recent story was about workers in a meat packing plant in Nebraska, who won $365 million. What I always want to read is stories about lottery losers, there never are any.
There ought to be a law making it compulsory for anyone who reports the name of the winner of a lottery, to also give the name of all the losers. The names would be followed by the amount each person lost — just the way they give the amount the winner got.
Lotteries usually pay out less than half of what is bet. It's the worst odds of any gambling operation.
You see people buying lottery tickets all the time and it's obvious that most lottery money comes from the poorest people. They don't look too smart either.
Some of them cash their unemployment checks and buy lottery tickets with that money. Then they need more help from the rest of us.
There was a National Gambling Impact Study and in every one of the 48 States that has gambling — only Utah and Hawaii don't — the people who make the least gamble the most.
Lower income people in Massachusetts, for example, spent 15 times as much on gambling as people who make a decent living. [Editor: This statement shows that you can prove anything using statistics, even something as outrageously false as this.]
I think we're all willing to accept some responsibility for helping people who can't help themselves. We approve of using some of our tax money for welfare to help the helpless. What I don't approve of is any government agency buying radio commercials to encourage the poor to waste what we give them on lottery tickets.
"You can't live the dream if you don't play the game, the New York Lottery. Attention lottery players watch the official televised lottery drawing every night on ABC 7. Tune in tonight and watch the winning numbers as they come up," one recent commercial went.
I'm embarrassed to say that commercial was on CBS.
A lottery is a stupid, inefficient way to raise money. Governments are supposed to do things that we can't do for ourselves — like fight wars, enforce laws, prevent crimes and put out fires.
It's outrageous when a government agency advertises to encourage anything as damaging to society as gambling is.