In a Holland Sentinel article last week, I said the following
about the Michigan Lottery giving $40,000 to Grand Rapids for a fireworks
display: "This expenditure is motivated by politics, not maximizing
lottery sales." Given the context of the article, I appeared to be
referring to the personal motivations of a particular individual, the Lottery
director. That was wrong, and I apologize for the remark.
The underlying issue here involves a legitimate public
policy debate: Should the Michigan Lottery's advertising budget be used to pay
for activities that generate "good will" in a particular community, rather than
just buying ads?
I think not. One reason (among others) is the risk and appearance this creates of
the expenditures being exploited for overtly political purposes. In fact, I
believe that such expenditures are inherently political on an institutional
level because the Lottery is a government entity whose existence and operations
are the product of political
decisions. Using government resources to indirectly influence those decisions
is problematic at best.
Besides, the Lottery already exists for just one reason: To
augment the resources available for public schools. If that isn't sufficient to
generate "good will" in the community, then perhaps policymakers should
examine another institution — the public school establishment that benefits from
Reasonable people may disagree with my
position, and fair enough. But I should not ascribe their personal motivations
to anything other than good will, and was wrong to say something that sounded
like I was doing so.
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