I personally think spending a few buck on the lotto each week is potentially a fine thing for many people, because it makes them think how they would live their lives if they had choices.
Oh, they think they are dreaming of how they would live if they were rich, but really, the essential point of the kind of wealth that winning the lottery can bring is that you have choices in your life. Real choices as to how you spend your time and allocate your resources.
And sure, the first impulse of most people is to think about spending a lot of time lounging by a pool eating lobster and drinking champagne. Hell, I'd spend some time doing that, too. But it would be a boring way to spend your entire life. Not as boring as spending all your time flipping burgers or filling in spreadsheets, but ultimately boring as well. Sure, it sounds like fun, but think about spending a year partying. Partying is fun, I'm all for doing it regularly, but it's ultimately dull because it's pointless activity.
People who dream about the lottery, I suspect, sometimes go to the next level and ask a REALLY ambitious question: what kind of world do I want to live in?
That is, imagine that you have already won the lottery and your every creature comfort is taken care of and all your time is your own. What about the world around you? What kind of world would ou like to live in?
I've thought about that question a lot. The world I'd like to live in absolutely beats the living hell out of the world I presently live in.
I would like to change one very fundamental thing about the world, and that is, to make freedom of choice much more central to people's lives: to give everone the same freedom of choice as to how they shall lead their lives as a lottery winner.
This is a very tall order, because of course I mean every person in the world, not just Americans. I am certain it will not be accomplished in my lifetime. But it's surprisingly easy to reach this point, in certain respects. All you need to do is perform the thought experiment I have already described. Imagine that you have every creature comfort that you could want, no money worries, all the time in the world, then imagine what sort of life you would like to lead and what sort of world you would like to live in.
Then work toward creating that life and that world. Sure, it will be difficult, because you DON'T really have all the resources you need, in fact, you may have damn few. You may have many claims on your time that are difficult to put off -- jobs, family, etc. But even if you can get just a little done toward making your life and your world more to your liking, you will have in a sense reached your destination. Because you know, each step on the road to heaven, is heaven.
Most people make the mistake of going after just the life they want to lead, and not the world they want to live in, which tends to trap them in an endless loop of whoring after more money, because after all, that's what the world is all about.
Well, as a comedian used to say, "That's how they get you." It's really hard to make a lot of money because everybody wants to have more, which tends to make them reluctant to give your more. Zero sum game, y'know? But changing the world is easier because most people are dopey about such stuff and think it's strictly for idealists. Nothing could be farther from the truth. As you work to change your world, your life will change, and almost always, for the better, because the act of working to change the world for the better orients you toward your own real interests, and leaves you less at the mercy of whoever has the money you're whoring after (or "working for" as it's called in more genteel circles).
Of course, there are many values of "better" out there and many may stray far from the beaten paths of political activism or religion. For example, mine. In my perfect world, I spend a lot of time thinking about and writing about sexual bondage. So I do it as often as I can. And over time, that adds up. Sure, Hollywood is still way behind the curve on sexual bondage issues, but I am having a lot of fun trying to educate them. I could be fighting world hunger I guess, but I'm just not that interested in world hunger. Everybody has to take their own path