Archive for March, 2014

A story about a lottery that nobody wins.

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

I just had this idea about a lottery that nobody wins.

Imagine what would happen. In the first few weeks people would pile into it because nobody won and the jackpot was getting large even by historic record measures.

Then a few more weeks would go by and the immediate frenzy would wear off but people would still be piling in, because SOMEBODY would eventually have to win.

After a few months, the pot would accumulate hundreds of millions of dollars if not a few billion.

Then the lawsuits would start.

People would start investigating the lottery system as being unfair and the assumption would be that somebody was cheating. Meanwhile the pot would grow bigger and the investment income on the pile of waiting winnings would start to accumulate even more.

At this point the lottery officials would probably put an end to it somehow. They can’t give the money back, so maybe they’d make the game easier so somebody could win. Or maybe they’d keep the money. But let’s play along and imagine that they let the game keep going and still nobody won.

A few more months people would probably stop throwing into the game anymore having given up any chance of winning, but some people would still put in, but more people would go broke trying to play hoping for the big win.

Occasionally there would be a frenzy of activity on rumors of “this is the week!” and people would line up to pile more money into it, and the pot would keep growing in fits and starts.

And yet still nobody would win. Remember folks, it’s entirely possible. Statistics never guarantees anything, only probabilities. It could happen that nobody wins for years and years and years.

So now let’s get a little silly and say that the pot of money is so large, has in hundreds of billions of dollars or maybe even a few trillion, people start suggesting we pay off the national debt with it.

Of course we can’t do that… a) nobody wants to pay off the debt, and b) it would throw the world economy into a terrible fit of something, and whatever it was probably wouldn’t be good.

So what happens? Eventually the economy fails. The lottery pot has grown so big it is stifling all the available liquid money. The return on the investments of the lottery pot grows larger and larger just making the problem worse.

Meanwhile people on the street are losing their jobs and being kicked out of their houses, because there’s no money to pay people or to spend so the economy drowns in a downward spiral.

And eventually society collapses because nobody ever won the lottery.

Just a funny idea I had.