You got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em

A tax on the stupid

I hate litter. I think one of the most disgusting features of modern, so-called civilized society are the disgraceful piles of crap that we as a group leave by the side of the road.

When I think about the process of littering (I guess I have too much time on my hands if I can spend it thinking about such things) it makes me furious.

I am toolin’ along in my Cheverolet, tokin’ on a number and diggin’ on the radio when the x-large container of coffee I am drinking from is drained. I could toss it on the floorboard or in the back seat but since I am across from Jim Rising’s house I will roll down the window and toss it at his mailbox.

If I was across from my own house I wouldn’t do it. Most animals know better than to foul their own habitat. But Jim’s place? It’s fine for littering.

If an extra-terrestrial watched from the side of the road he might think that the speeding vehicles were large animals. And they were just excreting waste from their bodies. Come to think of it…

I read a story once where a person grew so incensed by this whole idea of dumping and driving that he took it upon himself to gather up the thrown out stuff, follow the offenders, and heave the crap at them when they exited the vehicle. Said story ended in homicide as I recall.

This is just part of the stack of petty annoyances that make modern life a teeth grinding, jaw tightening, blood pressure raising affair. Car alarms going off for more than ten seconds, piles of cigarette butts to wade thru in front of buildings and drivers on cell phones all contribute to stress me out. Possibly I need stronger meds.

But one type of litter has me intrigued.

My caffeine jones requires frequent stops at convenience stores. Other than overpriced bread and milk and dirty restrooms one commonality among them is that all of them sell instant, scratch off lottery tickets.

The Pennsylvania Lottery currently sells more than fifty different scratch off tickets. Prices range from a dollar for such tickets as “Hog Heaven” and “$50 a day for life” to $20 for “Extreme Green” and the ever popular “Million Dollar Mega Multiplier” a mouthful if there ever was one.

With no offense or aspirations cast at the fine folks at the Pennsylvania Lottery whose motto is “Benefits older Pennsylvanians every day” most of the tickets sold seem to be what you might call “non-winners” otherwise known as LOSERS.

I say this because in spite of the best efforts of the cleaning crews at the local Quickie-Marts there is a thin carpet of these discards littering the parking lots. A layer of broken dreams, of unfulfilled expectations, of wasted discretionary income.

Once again that annoying part of my brain begins to wonder about the thought process. I just bought gas, a cup of joe and five bucks worth of “Lucky Cherries” lottery tickets. I sit in my car, sip and scratch, leaving a mess on my lap and getting no winners. Zip down the window, toss and leave. Think no more about it until the next day when I repeat the process.

Multiply by hundreds and that’s a forest of paper on the ground.

The concept of lotteries being a tax on stupid people is alive and well and benefiting oldsters every day here in the Keystone State.
Some, but not all of these scratch off tickets have a “Second chance” drawing. The idea is that you return the tickets with your name and get entered into a random drawing. Pardon my stupid question but, why not implement this on all of the tickets? For one thing you could grind up the losers and make new tickets. Cheap.

Added benefit: the losers won’t be stuck on my shoes.

Reach Jim at Even more rants are on his blog, updated every day at

Go back to today’s Blog post for 1/12/11

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About James Rising

A recovering radio addict wrestles with the written word.
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