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The “The Gottery Lottery” 

“I still say it’s a bad policy.” Ending his little speech, Wilbur emphasized the word “still” just a little more than he had meant to. He cocked his head to one side as though challenging his girlfriend Sandy to do her best to demolish his arguments. The pair had first met in their 8th grade D&D class (Dialogue & Discussion), so by the time their first adult Lottery drew near, they were quite well versed in the art of debate, discussion, dialogue, and story-telling. They knew how to be passionate in their arguments without letting their passion destroy the foundation upon which rested — well — everything. 

Sandy smiled. “Okay. Let’s say you’re right. It’s a horrible system. What would you replace it with or tweak it?” 

Wilbur frowned. “I don’t know yet. But I wouldn’t have someone’s livelihood depend on random numbers! It should depend on real things.” 

Sandy nodded. “Okay. What real things?” 

Wilbur chewed on his lips as he was wont to do when he had an inkling his girlfriend might be right and he might just be wrong. “Well, the way things used to be, as I understand it, it would depend on hard work and working smart.” 

Sandy smiled. “That’s it? You don’t think luck had any part? For example, whether you were born poor or — no, wait, here’s a better example. You don’t think it mattered what color skin you had? Or, how about if you were born blind? You don’t think that would impact your income?” 

Wilbur frowned. He chewed his lip. He frowned again. He chewed his lip some more. He looked left and right. After all, an answer might appear. Somewhere. Finally, he said, “Well, that’s not luck though. It’s because of … I mean … if you’re born rich, then, your ancestors worked hard so why shouldn’t you get a head start?”

Sandy blinked a few times and said. “Conquerors had better weapons. Or, maybe they were just more ruthless. So you think that means all their progeny for all of time should have an advantage? If someone were born in 1970’s America, wouldn’t their income be primarily determined by luck?”

Wilbur sighed. “OK. But it wasn’t luck for the parents or grandparents. People work harder knowing that their wealth will be passed on.”

Sandy pursed her lips, nodded, and continued. “But you know that when that’s really been studied, it is not actually true. After all, the ten year cycle itself wasn’t a random number!” 

Wilbur & Sally enjoyed a small chuckle together. 

Wilbur said, “No, I suppose not. Ten years. It’s plenty of motivation to work hard. Though…”

Sandy looked at him expectantly. Wilbur sighed and said, “It’s really weird, but ’m not really seeing how I’m going to do my job differently.” 

Sandy nodded. “Same here. But I don’t think it’s weird at all. I can’t imagine going into work Monday and not wanting to do a good job just because my salary doubled.” 

Wilbur snorted. “Or halved. Let’s not forget that possibility!”

“Or halved,” Sandy nodded. 

If you are from one of the parallel worlds where people’s salaries are never determined by lottery, you might find it difficult to believe, how unruffled most people were by the lottery. In some of those parallel worlds, people could be jerked out of their lives and sent half a planet away to kill and be killed in a jungle war. Why? Because of their lottery number. 

The Gottery Lottery, however, merely reshuffled the income that people were paid over the next ten years. Several things happened. First of all, people tended to save a lot of money. Second, they didn’t vote for political candidates who favored their interests at the expense of everyone else. Why? Because they might become one of those other income levels. Programs such as child care, after school programs, and preventative medical care were supported by well over 90% of the population. 

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