If you're reading this column, it means two things: Your spouse stole the horoscopes, and I didn't win last week's Powerball lottery.
Instead, someone from my home state of Michigan purchased the $337 million winning ticket in a Lapeer gas station. For readers unfamiliar with Lapeer, it's smack-dab on the thumb knuckle of the state's mitten-shaped Lower Peninsula.
It's the stupidity, stupid
I really had hoped that the guy who buys tickets for our office lottery pool had urgent business in Lapeer (or even Elba Township), but no such luck. And yes, even though I call state lotteries a "stupidity tax" on people who can't do math, I participate. That's despite the odds being about 1 in 175 million, or significantly worse than the chance that I'll be killed by a vending machine (1 in 112 million).
The reason I throw in is because, at $4 a week, I'm buying "stupidity insurance." If dozens of my co-workers suddenly call in rich one day, I will feel extremely stupid in a way that won't be comforted by statistical analysis.
Getting stoned on taxes
Let's also note that Lapeer, like Detroit and so many Michigan towns, derives its name from a French phrase. In this case, "la pierre," which means "stone." Speaking of stones and the people who can squeeze blood from them, the IRS gets a shot at that winning ticket, to the tune of $78.3 million, if the winner is single with no deductions or other income.
This seems unfair, even though the winner essentially did nothing to earn the money, much like hedge fund managers who pay a tax rate of only 15 percent and, in a similar scenario, would face a tax tab of less than half that of the lottery winner.
After all, a lottery winner is also a "job creator," although, judging from news clips, those jobs are mostly for strippers, meth dealers, bail bondsmen and lawyers, which, again, is maybe not so different from some hedge fund managers.
Nonetheless, a job is a job, and who are we to look down our collective noses at hardworking people who do the degrading, morally repugnant, soul-deadening chores that society demands, even if they did graduate from law school?
So go get those lottery tickets -- America needs the jobs! And remember: When it comes to buying Powerball tickets, there are three kinds of people -- those who can do math, and those who can't.
(Brian J. O'Connor is an award-winning columnist for The Detroit News. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.)