This being the first article posted on this webpage I will introduce my aims. The social sciences have adapted across history according the most pressing social issues of a time period. They work on both a micro and macro level to facilitate understanding and knowledge about the social system and those who make it up. While most media outlets depict modern issues as something outside of the individual’s reach, “On The Road” is an effort to supply a fresh yet critical perspective on societal functioning. The most unused resource for social discovery often lies right before our eyes; in deploying a critical lens to modern issues we can counteract the social imbalance and injustice that underlies them. This will appear in a variety of storylines and platforms just like another news network would do. The only difference is the critical lens I will use on common entities of everyday life.
Example #1: The lottery system is as prevalent as ever in the United States. If one man approached a stranger and asked, “if you give me five dollars, you have a 1/20 chance of getting your money back, a 1/30 chance of getting $10 back, and 1/100 chance of getting $50 or more back, but 9/10 chance of receiving nothing,” the offer would most likely be refused. The lottery is set up to change this answer through the manipulation of the human capacity to hope paired with the very structure of social imbalance. The current lottery system dresses itself up in order to overshadow the fundamental business model. The fact of the matter is that for many people in the United States there is little to no hope for achieving financial success. This is where the lottery comes in: for those who don’t have a steady enough income to save money over time, let alone maintain a respectable standard of living, there is a greater chance of dwindling away what little they do have out of superficial and ultimately absurd hope. At its core the lottery system is nothing more than a disguised tax that makes the poor even poorer.
Let’s take a look at the statistics for the Powerball: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ronald-l-wasserstein/chances-of-winning-powerball-lottery_b_3288129.html
Most understand how incredible the odds are against winning the Powerball, or any other lottery game, yet still play it on a daily basis. The fundamental issue is that it reflects a more fantastical version of the American Dream that isn’t grounded in reality.
While the original American Dream depicted a life built on discipline and savings for the promise of a better life, the lottery system is based on the hedonistic elements of the dream, or what F. Scott Fitzgerald named “the short-winded elations of men.” There is something about the immediacy of the lottery system that tempts the hedonist dwelling in each and every one of us. The idea that a single scratch off ticket being sold for $1-$20 or a certain number combination bought for $1-$2 can bring financial abundance beyond ones wildest dreams keeps people coming back for more.
This issue is also embedded into the everyday life of those who participate in it, giving it an emotional appeal in its capacity to be personalized. For example, if a given scratch off ticket is on ticket number 17, and person “X”‘s lucky number is 17, he or she is more likely to purchase the ticket. The issue here is that person “X”‘s logic is unquestionably 100% based on superstition. As Anny Tzivanaki says, “Buying a lottery ticket is not any more a single transaction point defined as selecting a set of numbers, and buying for the right to participate in upcoming draws. It is beyond that and foremost a joyful game, where the choices of the player selection have a direct significance in the player’s life.” In other words, the numbers chosen are most often emotionally attached to the individual, highlighting the superstitious qualities of the system as a whole. On the occurrence of winning this superstition is reinforced and thus poising a person to play again; if not, and the individual gives up, it is most like because the house has already won too much. It is a vicious cycle that directly targets those who see success as a meager dream while digging themselves deeper into their lived nightmare.
This is most significant to those below the poverty line because of the failure of the American Dream for those who lack opportunity to pursue it. In a 2006 study from Cornell University, research found that more than 21% of people thought that lottery was the most practical medium for attaining wealth. We can speculate that those who have already acquired wealth make up at least a majority of the 79% who claim other means as more practical. For many saving enough money to achieve what they want simply seems impossible.
When a system that is set up to make you fail is seen as the most practical path for attaining wealth for more than a fifth of our country, a serious reevaluation of the nation’s economic schematic is not only necessary but an ethical imperative.
More information about this can be found here: http://stoppredatorygambling.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Survey-21-percent-say-lottery-is-most-practical-path-to-wealth.pdf . This is not only a testament to the people who play the lottery, but the social imbalance that makes it seem to be the only hope for a better life. The primary goal in diminishing the lottery system is to fill the neurological void of hope with something more constructive. Ideally, the dependency on mechanisms of hope can be replaced by mechanisms of self-fulfillment.