With so much ecological devastation and climate-change effects already underway, and efforts to combat it so sporadic and underfunded, it is time we instituted an Eco-Lottery for this purpose.
Whether state by state, a nation-wide effort, or a United Nations project I believe an Eco-Lottery would attract funds to a great cause and away from other private, for-profit, gambling enterprises and lotteries with far less important purposes.
A new study by PriceWaterhouseCoopers predicts that total worldwide gambling revenue could top the $125 billion mark by 2010. The gaming industry worldwide is clearly huge, and currently so much of the profits go into private hands and does little more than suck money out of the economy.
While many still decry gambling and its ill effects, get real, there is no way it is going to go away, it is only getting bigger, spreading online, and getting more popular. Why not absorb and redirect some of these funds to a better cause?
Why should the underworld, already rich casino owners, and Indian tribes get it all?
My guess is that many who currently do not buy lottery tickets or have much interest in gambling per se, would be interested in buying an Eco-Lottery ticket, if they knew the funds were going to a good cause, and the sponsorship of the lottery organization was beyond reproach. The same goes for an Eco-Casino for other gaming interests.
In attempting to further this idea several years ago I reserved the Eco-Lottery and Eco-Casino website names for this purpose. Aside from lacking the funds, the challenge I found is to put it into effect. In California, for example, we would likely need a ballot initiative to authorize the idea. Unfortunately, my letter proposal to Gov Schwarzenegger has generated no interest to date..
I believe this is a project for the nation(s) and the United Nations. Perhaps this article will help spark the idea and generate the necessary interest to get an Eco-Lottery project off the ground.
Clearly, we lack funding for many needy environmental projects today. Unfortunately, we now waste billions on wars and armaments and leave succeding generation huge costs, bills, deficits, and mounting environmental troubles. We are criminally complicit and negligent in more ways than one.
In short, we can sit and watch the private gaming concerns generate ever more profit for the few or we, the people, can get smarter about garnering our share of these gaming funds and putting them to better use. In practice, the lottery ticket buyer or online casino game player would get the same satisfaction, and even more, from knowing the proceeds of his or her pasttime are at least being put to good use.
Its time for Congress, and the UN, to get off their anti-gambling kick, join the real world, and do something positive with the growing pot of gaming moneys. Will we sit by and watch the Indian tribes take this idea and run with it, along with so much of the rest of our gaming revenues nation-wide? They could, and maybe will do it, but would they do it honestly, fairly, and with adequate oversight?
The alternative to gaming revenues for positive environmental purposes is to tax an already overtaxed people, or sell bonds with high interest rates that tax several generations. Gaming, however, is largely discretionary and voluntary (with the exception of real addicts) so it is more like a contribution, especially with respect to an Eco-Lottery. Here, the entire "morality" question begins to disappear, and moves from negative to positive.
The world is moving in this direction. Last year a WTO tribunal outlawed Utah's ban on gambling, opening the door to millions of dollars in penalties against all states with anti-gambling restrictions. Little Antigua also charged that Utah's ban on gambling violated America's obligation not to discriminate against foreigners providing "recreational services." The global movement is clearly towards a freer gaming environment.
Other organizations have called for global taxes for good causes, or even for simple wealth re-distributions. Worldwatch Institute launched "Partnership For The Planet" and called for a global tax to finance "the transition to a sustainable society." The Ford Foundation financed a report called "The United Nations in Its Second Half-Century," which would allow the UN to have Special Drawing Rights from the International Monetary Fund. Seen as a "levy on the utilization of the global commons," this would enable the UN to bypass Congress in accessing U.S. taxpayers' money.
While these are laudable goals and projects they are not likely to fly given the immense opposition to a global, UN, tax scheme. The "global IRS" idea is a non-starter which leaves us with a lottery approach. Congress, are you listening? The time has come for a Eco-Lottery enterprise.