Every time I get really confused about something, I head for the desert, and my old friend Bob. Now was such a time, and I was rolling east along Interstate 10, escaping the smog and noise of Los Angeles, escaping my boring and routine life as insurance adjustor.
I'd known Bob since my wild and crazy days of the sixties, when Bob served out four years in Vietnam, where he left a Vietnamese wife and child. Myself, I lied my way out of the draft, grew my hair long and smoked a lot of pot, and later spent a lot of time listening to Bob’s ‘Nam adventures. As years went by we kept in touch, and I continued to listen to Bob’s views on politics, economics, and life in general. Bob seemed always to have a broader perspective, or insight, that made sense when all else stood in confusion. Now was clearly one of those confusing times.
Not only was the world seeming to fall into chaos with rising gasoline prices, rich getting ever richer, and the slums ever poorer, but the war in Iraq continued to take its deadly toll, and, well, I was feeling a certain humiliation for even being an American under “lets shoot the bad guys” cowboy G.W. Bush.
But I had something more specific on my mind: this new one hundred billion dollar lottery idea of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Seeming to me rather desperate to regain some sort of hero status, here is our Governator proudly proclaiming on TV that this new super fantastic “Be as Rich as Bill Gates” lottery is going to solve all of California's myriad financial woes.
The reasoning was simple enough, and seductive, I had to admit. The higher the regular “Super” lottery went, the more people bought up tickets and the State made ever more money. Why not go all out, and really rake in some dough? Supposedly people from all over the world would want in, and California residents would find ways, eBay certainly, to deliver an astounding chance to become instantly one of the worlds richest rascals. Schwarzenegger was even trying to sell Californians on the idea that one big winner would turn out good for the economy, that this crazy scheme was going to produce some sort of people power to bring riches to the masses, or, at least, one lucky soul chosen from the masses, instead of fantastic wealth residing only amongst the current set of super-rich. Hopefully this one winner would spend his billions in such a way as to create lots of jobs and local prosperity.
The whole idea seemed to me to be utter lunacy, but of course Schwarzenegger had the charts and scientifically taken poll results to back up his plan. And it looked like he had the necessary support in the legislature to make it happen. The numbers were to be drawn only after two hundred billion dollars in sales had been collected. Then the closest ticket to the winning numbers would win ALL, or, if anyone actually choose the correct dozen numbers correctly, then the first to have purchased that correct result won. The projection was that it would take about one year, and some lucky soul would rake in the almost incomprehensible sum of one hundred billion bucks. Obviously the State of California was a winner as well, making a profit of exceeding the much maligned state debt!
Now I admit to easily falling victim to an overly active mind, but never had a news event taken me like this. Visions of dollar bills floated through my mind constantly, and I actually had not slept for more than maybe three minutes for two nights in a row. I was guessing that I wasn't the only person here in California, and other places around the globe as well, that had instantly become obsessed by our Governor's grand scheme. Certainly news organizations everywhere were giving it plenty of space and airtime. Internet blogs were suddenly more active than ever before. Talk radio was non-stop on the subject.
I wanted to know what Bob had to say.