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A Cure for the Deficit Obsession
Author Louis Proyect
Date 10/04/27/10:40
Hit Count 671

(Bard's only radical professor in a Swiftian mode.)

Counterpunch April 27
A Cure for the Deficit Obsession
Liberation Lotto
By JOHN HALLE

Today's New York Times finds the grey lady engaged in her usual
gnashing of teeth and rending of garments over The Deficit, in
this case, that of the State of New York which it describes as
"alarming."

The sum occasioning the state of near panic? $9.2 billion.

Oddly, in the previous week, the Times business section reported
on the bonus pool to be distributed among Goldman-Sachs employees.
The sum in question: $14 billion.

It does not take a genius to recognize that the problem and the
solution are in very close proximity to one another-separated, as
it were, by only a few pages of newsprint.

All it takes is moving a manmade mountain of cash to fill a giant
hole we have dug for ourselves.

A generation ago, we would have made this transfer via
taxation-from those few who are stuffed with cash to the many who
need it.

But three full decades of market fundamentalist brainwashing has
removed this obvious-not to mention unimpeachably fair and just-
solutions from the table.

The answer? Liberation Lotto: A lottery with a twist to be
explained below.

But before doing so, it is worth noting that state lotteries,
since their massive expansion in the early 1980s now fund many
programs and they do so by transferring wealth from the most
impoverished communities-those who are most susceptible to the
disease of addictive gambling.

Since we have a lottery system up and running, we should put it,
and its popularity to use. And here's how it should work.

First, rather than being required to purchase tickets, tickets
would be issued free to those eligible to participate.

And-here's the second twist-rather than targeting the poor, the
ticket holders in this lottery would be the most asset-laden
citizens of a state-those with a net worth of $100 million and above.

Finally, rather than the hand of the state depositing money in the
pocket of a bus driver, unemployed day laborer or secretary, it
will do the exact opposite, which is to say that it will extract
funds from those who now have wealth beyond their dreams of avarice.

Our lucky winner will required to avail him or herself of the
opportunity to deposit into the general revenues of their state
75% of all their assets above $20 million, or face stiff criminal
punishment.

Imagine the nightly news lottery segment. Our lovely host removes,
say, the numbers 7, 7, and 3 from the hopper. Then she consults
her list and, flashing a winning smile, announces that "Mortimer
Zuckerman of 451 Park Ave., New York City is tonight's lucky
winner of Liberation Lotto!"

The host's side kick then intones, sotto voce: "According to
recent tax documents, Mr. Zuckerman's net worth will require he
make a donation of $675,845, 321 to the general fund of the State
of New York or be subject to wage garnishment, expropriation of
assets and/or imprisonment."

A week later, David Viniar of Goldman Sachs will see his number
come up. A week after that, maybe it would be John Paulson, or
David Shaw, or Mayor Bloomberg.

The suspense would be enormous. Ratings would go through the roof.

In a few short weeks, the budget deficit would be eliminated.

And after that, each week would target another billionaire's asset
portfolio channelling it into one or another underfunded state
program-state parks threatened with closing, rolling back the
firing of thousands of public school teachers, public
transportation systems, food assistance or public housing.

All of these would be flush with cash by the year's end. Those
making the contributions would barely notice-though it might put a
small crimp in the luxury yacht, high end real estate and private
jet sales.

Liberation Lotto: an idea whose time has come!

John Halle is Director of Studies in Music Theory and Practice at
Bard College. He can be reached at: halle@bard.edu

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