Many states run lottery games, which are public gambling events with prizes of money and goods. Lottery participation has been rising since the late 20th century. In the United States, most state lotteries are legalized by state legislatures and subject to public referendum. Although the vast majority of voters approve of state lotteries, there are critics who question their benefits and argue that they are detrimental to society.
Lotteries have long been popular as a means of raising money for public purposes and have enjoyed considerable popularity throughout history. Their appeal has been based on the perception that they are a “painless” source of revenue, in contrast to taxes that impose an economic burden on the general population.
While the idea of lotteries seems harmless enough, they often have more sinister consequences. For example, the story “The Lottery” describes an elaborate ritual in which the villagers persecute someone who has drawn the wrong slip of paper in a random drawing. The villagers do not feel any remorse for the victim, who is not guilty of any crime other than having been selected in the lottery.
The story’s author, Shirley Jackson, uses several techniques to show the underlying evil of humankind. The way in which the villagers assemble for the lottery, for example, resembles a parade. They greet each other and exchange gossip, and they handle each other without any reluctance. This suggests that humans are deceitful and cruel in nature, and this is confirmed by the fact that they easily accept the lottery’s consequences.