HARVARD SQUARE COMMENTARY

February 18, 2008
From the Editor

John Turner


At home I never buy lottery tickets. But here in Florida it seems to be the custom, so I have taken it up. So far, however, I have won no money.  The trick is to select six numbers, between one and fifty-three, and have them match six numbers selected by some sort of random process. If you do that, you win quite a few millions of dollars. If you pick three of the numbers, you get about four dollars; four will gain you about ninety dollars; and five would result in a prize of maybe four thousand. Up till now the most I’ve got is two. But there’s always a new drawing and, therefore, a new chance.

Some people say this is an evil process which divests people of money they need for other purposes. After all, what are your chances of getting the right six numbers? I don’t know, exactly, but they are very slight. So, if you put a lot money in the lottery, it’s a bad thing. But a dollar or two a week probably returns enough interest and excitement to justify the expenditure.

A reform I’ve considered is to limit purchases at any one selling place to two numbers. That way, if you were determined to blow your whole paycheck, you’d have to run around town quite a bit. But I doubt that the authorities will take up my suggestion.

In Florida, also, there is something called “E-Pass” to allow you to pay road tolls electronically. It used to be called the “Sunshine Pass” and when I noticed the name change I was excited because I thought that, perhaps, my EZ Pass from the northeast would work now in Florida. But that turns out not to be the case. I don’t understand why the various toll passes don’t unify so that people from outside a region can use their devices from home. I doubt it would be very hard. I’ve noticed that the EZ Pass now works at the entrance to Chicago from Indiana, but it doesn’t work anywhere else in Illinois. Maybe we should get Bill Gates or Steven Jobs on the problem.

I read an article in the Washington Post saying that Crawford, Texas is subsiding again into obscurity. That’s okay with me. I don’t think Crawford has much to offer the rest of us. One of the residents there, Donald Lammert, a truck driver, opined about Hillary Clinton, “If she stayed with her husband after what he did, I’m afraid her choices aren’t very good.” If that’s a sample of Crawford thinking I’d just as soon it stayed in Crawford. I don’t guess it’s possible to put the town in a thought quarantine.

Frank Rich says the Republican Party is so out of date it’s pathetic. He cites one of David Letterman’s quips about the GOP -- a bunch of white guys waiting to tee off at a restricted country club. I hope Rich is right, but I’m not as confident as he is. Republicans still have a lot of money, and in this country, money generally allows one to buy whatever he wants. It would be great though, if the Republican Party would just die, and be listed in history as having expired from selfish stupidity. We would be better off if the Democrats became the party of globalism and conservatism and were opposed by an assortment of environmentalists and haters of neo-liberalism. Then we might take a step towards sensible political debate.

This will be my last posting from Florida for a while. Next week I’ll be back at home, where, I’m told, the snow is packed up so high it’s almost impossible to get in the door. I used to be distressed by conditions of that kind, but now I’m beginning to see them as inducements to vigor. I’ll tell you if I still feel that way after shoveling over the weekend.


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