It's Time for . . . Liberation Lotto!

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

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

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 and
traditional -- not to mention unimpeachably fair and just -- solution 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 extracting 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
be 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!

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