1 Way to Fix the U.S. Federal Debt No One is Talking About

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Public lotteries have a long history. From Caesar Augustus (where tickets had prizes of slaves, real estate, and ships) to European governments during the Middle Ages (which relied heavily on lotteries for revenue), state-run lotteries have continually proven lucrative, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica.
Not surprisingly, the United States of America also has a long history of lotteries. Considered “voluntary taxes,” early lotteries were used to fund new colleges such as Harvard, Dartmouth, Yale, and Brown. In 1745, the General Court of Massachusetts passed an act allowing a lottery to pay off costs defending the colony’s frontier and seacoasts. By 1831, eight states held 420 lotteries.
Today, lotteries are the most popular form of gambling in the United States, with two times as many annual participants as those who visit a casino. A Gallup Research Poll indicates that nearly 50% of Americans buy state lottery tickets each year. The majority of participants have a technical, college or post-graduate degree, earning more than $36,000 a year.
The popularity of gambling has also been global, with numerous governments taking a cut. One of the longest-running lotteries was the Irish Sweepstakes from 1930 to 1987, the revenues of which benefited Ireland’s public hospitals. A state-run lottery managed by the country’s postal system replaced the Sweepstakes, providing more than £30 million for government-sponsored projects each week. According to the United Kingdom’s official National Lottery website, more than £1,901 million ($2.37 billion in U.S. dollars) has funded 500,000 projects since its origination in 1994.
According to the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries (NAASPL), more than $110 billion of lottery tickets were sold in the United States in 2015. Roughly $33 billion of that was redirected to state and local governments. According to figures compiled by the U.S. Treasury Department, that represents approximately one-tenth of the Federal Government’s annual revenues from corporate taxes ($344 billion) and slightly more than 2% of the $1.5 trillion received from individual income taxes.
With huge participation rates and billions in revenue, redirecting lottery funds can make a significant impact. As the national debt continues to rise, many have called for a national lottery, with proceeds spent paying down debt.
Is it time to offer a national lottery in the United States to retire the National Debt?

The Growing National Debt

According to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, the total U.S. national debt will be $20 trillion by the end of 2016, a 347% increase since 2000. Many economists consider only the debt held by the public in their calculations, discounting the effect of intra-government holdings (an estimated $5.5 trillion at the end of the year). The majority of the intra-governmental holdings are in the Medicare and Social Security Trust Funds, as well as the Federal Financing Bank securities.
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