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Look at the balloons. The marketing photograph below aims to persuade as many new and experienced suckers as possible to turn over their cash. The higher the figure after the dollar sign, the more lottery tickets sold to hopeful gamblers, and the more money lost by people who hoped for better.

Why did this particular winner, Lisa Quam, make the news? Because she won on the first lottery ticket she ever bought! Think of all the people who buy again and again, and never win one penny.

Image: Lisa Quam and her husband hold a check for $90 million during a news conference in Olympia, Washington

We won! Lottery winners should request extra payment for appearing in these promotional photographs. Also, the check should show what the winners actually receive, which is way less than the amount shown on the placard.

Looking ahead, every purchaser thinks his or her cash is well spent. The anticipatory hope is worth every penny you put down for that ticket. Looking back, every loser – and there are many – thinks: (1) maybe next time; (2) why did I do that again? (3) that’s the last time I’ll try that; (4) I need help with this compulsion; or, (5) I love to gamble, when’s my next chance!?

If people want to spend money on games of chance, they should do so – but government should not sponsor the game. That is crazy. Government says they have to sponsor any gambling activities; otherwise organized crime would move in. Why would organized crime move in? Because the legislature says that privately sponsored gambling is illegal! If you outlaw gambling, then naturally, gamblers are criminals! That’s why the government has to organize legal gambling: to keep the criminals out.

Never underestimate government’s ability to find new ways to enhance its own reach. Never underestimate government’s ability to find new and exciting ways to take your property. The balloons remind you that the Powerball people take pride in their own debasement.