There are many important issues in our economy and stock markets that need to be addressed. There are also a host of smaller, nagging, and annoying little problems that should raise all of our hackles. (Well, at least they bug Motley Fool co-founder David Gardner.)
In this series from the Rule Breaker Investing podcast, Gardner takes aim at several tiny, yet very irritating, quirks of the market and the wider economy. The first annoyance on David's list is a classic bugaboo for anyone who's followed The Motley Fool over the years: lotteries. As David explains, they're an almost guaranteed way to burn up your money.
A transcript follows the video.
This podcast was recorded on July 20, 2016.
David Gardner: No. 1 is not my No. 1 pet peeve of all -- it's just No. 1 of this podcast -- and that's state lotteries.
My friends, there's a bear market every day across the United States of America for lottery-ticket purchasers. If you don't already know this -- I hope you do -- but the simple math goes something like this. When you pay a dollar for your lottery ticket, right away your state takes $0.50 off the top (and that's a tax). And the other $0.50 gets grouped with mine, and yours, and hers, and his, and gets stacked up into a big lottery payout. So if you're doing the math with me here, a 50% haircut off your money every single time you buy a lottery ticket.
People worry about when the next bear market's going to be, or where will the Dow by the fall. We once calculated that, if you took Bill Gates's entire fortune (tens of billions of dollars) and put it into lottery tickets every single day for an entire month, what happens to it? Well, try having a large sum of money and every single day, for an entire month, and you'll find that the 40, or 50, or whatever billion dollars ends up being something like $172.34 if you just keep investing it in lottery tickets all month long.
And why is this pet peeve No. 1, and why do I list this as sublime? Because I actually think this one really matters. Later in this podcast, we'll get to the ridiculous. You'll ask yourself why David is still talking, and if he's still talking, why am I even still listening at this point? But this one, I think, really counts. Most states in America today have lotteries, and the biggest message that I often hear from my state government -- you tell me if this checks out with yours -- is, "You could be next. Gotta play to win."
Some of the most amusing-and-inventive ads that I hear coming from my government, on either the radio or television, and often very well done, are about lotteries, and it's sad when you think that a lot of states claim -- I don't think this is often backed up -- but claim that it's for education. It's the education lottery. This has definitely happened in marketing for these lotteries -- for years in some states. And it always has struck me, perhaps you, as well, as highly ironic, because if your education is really working in your state, you're not teaching people -- usually people can't really afford it -- to buy lottery tickets. Pet peeve No. 1.