The Lottery and Its Benefits

The short story “The Lottery” portrays a small town’s annual lottery. Despite the obvious gruesomeness of the event, the community still goes through with it. This demonstrates that some people are blind to traditions and rituals. They don’t care about others, and are more interested in their own survival.

When Shirley Jackson’s chilling work was first published in The New Yorker in 1948, it generated more letters than any other piece of fiction the magazine had ever published. Readers were furious, disgusted, occasionally curious, and almost uniformly bewildered.

In general, the main argument for adopting a lottery has been that it is a source of “painless” revenue—money that is generated through voluntary spending by players and then used to fund a specific public purpose. This argument is especially compelling in times of economic stress, when state governments are facing budget deficits and the prospect of tax increases or cuts to public programs. However, studies have found that the popularity of a lottery is not correlated with the objective fiscal condition of the state government.

After New Hampshire established a state lottery in 1964, New York and New Jersey quickly followed suit. By 1970, 17 states and the District of Columbia had lotteries in operation. Critics, on the other hand, argue that lotteries have a number of negative impacts. They are alleged to promote addictive gambling behavior and to disproportionately target low-income individuals. They are also said to generate large amounts of money for corrupt officials and other bad actors.