Is this what we need?

The latest plan for solving California’s budget woes and easing the health care crisis seems to be to privatize the state’s lottery operations. California is only one of many states that are considering selling their lotteries to large financial institutions who would operate them. According to an in-depth New York Times article this morning, states would get several billion dollars immediately while the private companies would earn longterm profits from the lotteries. As in all these privatization schemes, the idea is that private firms would advertise more effectively (billboards on the Golden Gate Bridge? on your local Little League field?) to attract new customers to buy lottery tickets. Although they don’t say so, they would probably cut costs by firing civil servants with pensions and health benefits and hiring cheaper employees without benefits. Before Governor Schwarzenegger takes any position on this, he ought to think long and hard about the longterm consequences of putting one of our chief sources of school funding into the hands of private investors. Don’t let this become a stealth move. Now is the time for citizens to use their power and let legislators know what they think. Perhaps the public will accept this idea, perhaps not, but at least our voices should be raised loud and clear on the issue

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