Vote your heart or mind,

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 10, 1999

but know the real facts

Published Oct. 10, 1999

To many religious organizations, it’s a parasitic program designed to bleed the Alabama public of what dignity it has left.

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To many educators, it’s the only way to salvage a struggling system from the brink of an abyss.

The public, made up of folks who subscribe to both theories, has been torn on the issue. And there are plenty of other theories out there, both for and against the Alabama lottery for education.

What is the truth behind the lottery and its projected effect on the state? To say anything would be at best an educated guess and at worst, pure lunacy.

This much we know. The lottery is not casino gambling. If anyone wants to consider the repercussions of a lottery, do so without considering casinos. They simply aren’t the same thing. Don’t vote against the lottery because you oppose casinos.

There are people who claim that without an Alabama version of Georgia’s HOPE scholarship, students will fall through the cracks and will be unable to attain higher levels of learning. Data shows that argument to be poorly formulated.

Georgia has seen a one percent increase in full-time college enrollment in state funded schools since the formation of the HOPE scholarship. Alabama and Mississippi have posted greater gains in the same period of time.

People who want to go to college and who have the fundamental skills necessary to succeed are not inhibited by a lack of money. State colleges are already subsidized and numerous programs exist to help hardworking students pay for college. Don’t vote for the lottery because people are deprived of the chance to go to college.

The lottery is said to favor education. Not one nickel of lottery funds will go to help educated students in K-12. Not a cent. If you vote for the lottery, do so with this in mind.

Thousands of people won’t lose their homes as a result of a lottery. Some people who have obsessive disorders may fall prey to a lottery. But they could as easily fall prey to gambling – casino or otherwise – drugs, alcohol, or other terrible things that exist in society. Remember that no one without a disorder will lose valuable material property as a result of a lottery.

These are the real issues that people must face – the moral and the logical. There are good moral arguments for and against the lottery. There are logical arguments that favor it as well as there are those that oppose it.

Know what the lottery is and what it is about before casting a vote. Know the real issues. Blindly saying no or yes would be doing this great state a disservice.