This is a very bad idea! An editorial in the Charlotte (NC) Observer advocates using a state lottery to pay for a school voucher program. My objections have nothing to do with vouchers and everything to do with lotteries. Using state-sponsored lotteries to fund any kind of government program is irresponsible on several levels.

To start, lotteries are a poor funding source because the income is unreliable (and has been from the start), rising and falling with the economy and the size of the "big jackpot". In almost every state profits from the games consistently fall far below predictions of supporters.

Another problem is that the use of the money to fund specific programs like education disappears quickly. Politicians often sold lotteries to voters by telling them that the income would supplement education/health care/road construction (name your cause). In most states that never happened. Income from gambling was rolled into the general budget and the programs that were supposed to benefit saw no change in the funding (unless it was down).

On top of all that, lotteries are nothing more than state-sponsored con games, selling suckers on the joy of wasting their money. Supporters will tell you that it’s a matter of choice, that the people who play are adults who know the odds. Maybe, but I doubt they understand the odds. And don’t give me the old argument that lotteries are just another form of entertainment. You can have just as much fun setting fire to a $20 bill – and almost as much chance of it turning into a million dollars.

In the end, however, I have a basic problem with funding education through gambling when we do such a lousy job of teaching the kids the mathematics behind the games. But, I suppose if we did, the income from lotteries would fall even more.