Clattering Clooney

It’s Gorgeous George! And he was in Amsterdam within the past couple of days.

The Dutch news/commentary website “The Post Online” took appropriate note and recorded about a minute-and-a-half of video, which you can access by clicking through. Don’t worry, of course he speaks in English, it’s merely dubbed underneath in Dutch.

I feel the need to take exception to a couple things he mentions here.

First, he is asked about the whole #OscarsSoWhite phenomenon, and claims he’s been on the problem for a while. He attributes it mainly to “who’s doing the hiring and who’s greenlighting pictures and the kinds of movies being made – and that’s something that needs to be looked at.”

OK then: write more parts suitable for actors of color and hire them – fine. But “the kinds of movies being made”? I thought, when it came to that, it was all about Art – that is, about inspiration, about pursuing deep themes and not about some reasoning-process such as “Hey, looks like we haven’t made a Latino film in a while – time to make a Latino film!” etc. Am I naive here? Probably.

Then there is the reason he visited Amsterdam in the first place, and you can read it on the wall in the background: Nationale Postcode Loterij. It was their big gala, and George doesn’t neglect to plug them in the interview:

We don’t do it in the United States, and we should, it forms this whole sense of community where, like, a whole postcode wins, which is great, but they also donate so much money to so many different actually needy charities . . . . I wish we were forward-enough thinking to do the same thing.

That’s right: What’s drawn in the Postcode Loterij as the result is a postal code and, if you do actually live there AND you bought a ticket, you get a payoff. You can see the extensive list of charities to which this institution contributes – as well as the by-year monetary amounts – on its Wikipedia page. Amusingly, that list includes the Clinton Foundation.

The question remains, though: Where do these millions of euros ultimately come from? I can assure you it’s not from the public purse; rather, it’s of course from the purchase of Postcode Loterij lots by individual consumers. Put another way: Through individuals staking their money on wagers that the laws of probability easily show are unfair, i.e. with a chance to actually win something way out of line with what one is called upon to pay. It has to be this way: that’s where all the money to those charities comes from, in addition to the identical amount (since 50% of proceeds go to charities) to winners and to administration.

Dream Merchants for the Poor

Now, it’s a well-known fact that it tends to be poorer people who take up this unfair proposition. The rich already have their money, and have fancier things (at fancier places) to gamble on if they feel that itch. Indeed, the lottery in general has long – and rightly – been labeled “the dreamers’ tax.” Viewed that way, they are merely pathetic; but they are additionally destructive to any society’s moral foundation in that they tend to foster the belief in the “free lunch,” i.e. that something can be had for nothing, without having to work for it, if one just can be lucky enough. (And let’s not even get started on the unhappy riches-to-rags tales of most of those who do turn out to be so lucky.)

The British National Lottery also devotes all sorts of money to artistic causes and the like, but that does not detract from the fact of its being the same sort of scam on the poor. That national US PowerBall lottery of $1.6 billion that was on the front pages recently quite likely does far less in the way of charitable contributions than that. Note, however, the Postcode Loterij’s particular innovation, namely the collective nature of the win, which so impressed Clooney: a devious trick designed to add that much more motivation for one to buy a ticket because, after all, how badly will you stew in envy if/when your neighbor comes down in clover and you miss out!

No, George Clooney, America does not need a Zipcode Lottery, indeed the Netherlands really could well do without the Postcode Loterij which apparently offers so much inspiration. “But how will these charities get their money?” you might cry, to which I say: Any other way is better than off the backs of the poor, through these deceitful means. Perhaps in the Netherlands we can start by looking to divert money from the income to and net worth of the Royal Family.

PS: Via The Post Online one has the unique opportunity to follow – and even to donate to the work of – a Dutch journalist named Wierd Duk. No, no mistake: that’s really his name. He likely is from the Friesland part of the Netherlands, where they speak Frisian as well as Dutch and people often tend to have strange-sounding names like that. (“Joke” is a common Frisian first name for a female, for example.) He’s a specialist in Putin’s Russia, apparently; yes, you’d have to be able to read him in Dutch, or else trust to Google Translate.

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