Open Mind

"Automated Lottery"

The proposed "Automated Lottery" would raise 10 times more money for our public schools!

Wouldn’t it be nice to receive a message on your phone or computer that told you $50, $100, $1,000, or even $35,000 had recently been deposited directly into an account you have in a local bank? When we asked the creator of the proposed “Automated Lottery” at his home in Johnson, Vermont how this system would work he gave us some of the details of this revolutionary development which he believes will eventually be used worldwide.

Seven states are now allowing the purchase of lottery tickets on-line. All states are expected to do the same thing in the near future, as well as many countries. We can now purchase lottery tickets from our home 28 days in advance. You can use a credit card, or you can also pay with your Bill Pay from any bank. This is what many people use to make their car payments, auto insurance, church donations and many other things. It is setup easily from home or by going to your bank. When programmed to pay a certain amount on specific days, payments are made for any period of time, from a week to over a year. It can be stopped at anytime with a phone call.

Research has shown that it is better to play the same number every day rather than jump around hoping for more success with a different number. Statistics prove that using the same number gives one a much better chance of winning. Therefore, a person should pick one number and stick with it for at least a year. In the Automated Lottery system when your number wins the state will automatically deduct your taxes, and send the remaining money directly to the bank account number that paid for the tickets. It also will notify you by email that you have been a winner in their system and they will thank you for playing with them and supporting the school system in the state.

The fact that one will not have to leave their home to buy the tickets, or go to an outlet or bank to cash in the winning ticket is a fantastic thing for many people who lack transportation, are disabled, or who are elderly. This will also avoid carrying money home through certain areas and exposing yourself to the virus. The automated system would solve the problems of remembering to by a ticket, or to check on a daily basis to find out if you won anything. You could forget about it for a year!

I asked the creator of the Automated Lottery, a retied college professor in Johnson, Vermont who wished to remain anonymous, when it would be available. He said he is presently contacting the heads of the Lottery in every state to get them interested in the project. He is confident that someday this will be the way the lottery system is played in every country in the world. It is simple, safe, and a great way to increase the number of people who play. We also discussed how such a system would enable religious institutions and many organizations to play the lottery easily and possibly win a substantial amount of money. This increase could be substantial and completely erase the differences in the funding of schools in every state. Taxes paid by lotteries are a primary source of funding for most states.

No excuse

It is time we stopped blaming the vast differences in test scores and graduation rates on the educational system alone. Check the differences out for your local schools and colleges nationwide on GOOGLE. Elementary and high schools where 100% read at the expected level, and others only 25%. Community colleges with a 25% graduation rate, and selective colleges with a 95% graduation rate.

If an elementary school teacher is blessed with students who can read and write before kindergarten isn’t their success rate going to be better than the teacher assigned a room full of students who come to school hating to read and only want to be rap stars or rich athletes?

Isn’t it time we agree that the problem begins in the home, and not anywhere else. Some people are better role models and educators for their children. This is a fact.

Poverty and low adult educational levels are not excuses for the performance of children in life and in school. Many of our greatest leaders and citizens have risen out of great poverty. Institutional racism and sexism cannot be used as the primary reasons for lower grades or poor demonstration on a job."

3 to 5 minutes of racial justice, no thanks

Dear Jessie or Tommy,

Just had to write the letter below for my sanity. I really want to be of service in the community, but watching events go down hill in Johnson, Vt and the country with regards to race relations is very depressing. Instead of having carefully conducted conversations around issues we have given in to dangerous name-calling and control by guilt-ridden whites and angry blacks. Where do we go from there? If you care to print my piece please include the picture. Just want people to know I am a person-of-color who likes Vermont very much, and wants to work with others who understand the democratic process.

Offie Wortham

Resigns from being considered

to be on The Racial Justice Commission in Johnson

October 5th, 2020

    I have lived in Johnson for over 10 years, and in Vermont for over twelve. I came to Johnson to teach Sociology, Psychology, and Human Relations at Johnson State. Anyone interested in my qualifications to be a volunteer on a committee in Johnson can just type my name into GOOGLE and view the resume from Marist College.

I volunteered for the Racial Justice Commission at the urging of a friend on the Johnson Village Select board. After participating in a ZOOM meeting 10/5/2002 I have decided to withdraw my name from the process of the selection for becoming a Commission member.  I could tell from listening to some commission members that they only wanted new members who shared their narrow political perspective in working on racial or ethnic problems in Johnson. I am a free thinker, registered as an Independent. It promised to be a humiliating and frustrating experience for me, to prove that I was going to be politically correct, which was of course impossible. I have been working over 50 years, professionally and in a volunteer capacity, to move our nation toward racial and economic justice everywhere I have lived.

    The allowing of only 3-5 minutes for a statement from a candidate is not how I think the selection process should be done. Interested candidates should be asked to submit a short resume or a list of volunteer activities where they have worked to bring people together religious, racial, economic, cultural, people in conversations to identify and resolve racial and ethnic problems in their community.

    I think I will stay in my retirement while I watch my fellow citizens find the kind of people they are looking for who agrees to with them, rather than choosing experienced independent thinkers who want to work with them in a democratic fashion to make Johnson a more friendly and less stressful village.

Sincerely, Offie Wortham

Understand the anger

Tim Scott, who is the African American senator from South Carolina, says that he has been stopped and questioned by police 10 times during his years in the Senate. Why have I, a retired African American man in Vermont, never been stopped by the police? I also lived in suburban areas in Atlanta, Georgia for two years, Virginia for ten years, Philadelphia for ten, Cleveland for two, Santa Monica for two, San Francisco for two New Jersey for ten, and in New York state for over ten years. Never have I been stopped unless I had violated the law by speeding or a violation on my car.

The primary purpose of this short paper is to examine the relative importance of race along with class in measuring citizen satisfaction with the police to help us better understand the anger becoming increasing evident in the poorer communities across the nation. Here in Vermont I know of at least two white males who have been stopped and arrested for a variety of reasons. Is it because they were driving older cars? Was it their place of residence, or was it their beards? What is the “Bubble” over me that protects me from aggressive police officers? Do I just have “Black or Brown Privilege” where ever I drive, or is it because I live in Johnson, VT? Let me try to explain why I believe I have positive relationships with the police and the effects of neighborhood racial composition and socioeconomic status which have long been under researched and ignored.

Extensive research by the U.S. Department of Justice, the Pew Foundation, and several universities gives extensive evidence that indicates that both race and class are equally important predictors of how police treat and react to people. African Americans and lower‐class people tend to be less satisfied with the police. Neighborhood racial composition strongly influences police behavior. Residents in predominately White and racially mixed affluent neighborhoods receive more favorable attitudes than those in predominately African American communities. Individual background characteristics and experiences also appear to be significant predictors of attitudes toward the police. Research shows that police responses to incidents vary, depending upon where the people live, their race, sex, age, and social class. Also, members of a higher socioeconomic tier are more inclined to have a close relationship with police since they rely more on the police to serve their interests.

Generations of hostile and criminal police practices that are common in poorer neighborhoods are unknown in affluent areas. The affluent in the suburbs are bystanders to the humiliation and abuse delivered daily by an occupied force equipped with not only guns, but with automatic weapons, gas, tanks and aircraft. The current movement to demilitarize the police (not defund them) and to replace many of their activities with trained social workers is logical and long overdue.

Paid Sick Leave

Paid sick leave is required to allow low income Vermonters help to prevent a Coronavirus epidemic!  If all employees were allowed to have emergency paid sick leave it would cut the spread of the virus by over 50%! Presently, 68 percent of companies nationwide offer paid sick days to full-time employees, while just 25 percent of part-time workers get such benefits. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is a direct relationship between the spread of the coronavirus and sick food handlers who cause over half of the foodborne norovirus outbreaks. Many food workers here in Vermont say that they have concerns about leaving co-workers short-staffed, and are more likely to work while sick if their absence would have negative impacts on remaining staff and on restaurant operations. If workers were making a living wage they would have more flexibility to take an unpaid day when needed. But for workers making the federal sub-minimum "tipped" wage of $2.13 per hour, they can’t afford to take an unpaid day off. Also, workers with access to paid sick days are also more likely to utilize preventative health services such as cancer screenings and tests. Many Vermonters admit they go to work while sick because they wouldn’t get paid if they didn’t work; only 15% of food workers get paid sick leave. Fifty-one percent of food workers — who do everything from grow and process food to cook and serve it — said they "always" or "frequently" go to work when they're sick. We must also organize to overcome the opposition to paid sick leave from organizations like the National Restaurant Association.

There is no state or federal law mandating paid sick days. The United States is the only developed country that doesn’t guarantee paid sick leave! The present proposals of the President and in our federal and state legislatures for sick leave are not sufficient solutions as a response to the coronavirus outbreak. The recent address by the President does not allow a worker to take sick leave and not miss a paycheck. One way to do this is for the federal government to immediately establish a program administered by the Social Security Administration that would pay workers $10 per hour for sick leave related to the Coronavirus. Workers would pay a one to two percent federal payroll tax to pay for this.  

Vermonters want a paid sick day policy! Three-quarters of adults support a policy giving employees a minimum number of paid sick days. Employers in Vermont should be encouraged to do the right thing and let sick employees stay home without fear of missing their paychecks. Urge employers to give their workers paid sick days today, even before a program begins from the government! In the short and long run, we all will be better off in a healthier country.

My Brother Lonnie

Lonnie is what I called Alonzo. Ours was a relatively calm and peaceful relationship.  We were raised together in the same small house built by our grandfather in Peekskill, NY with our mother and father, my father’s sister Babe, and our sister Pauline.

Lonnie was 3 years older than Pauline, and Pauline 4 years older than me. The gaps in the ages were enough to limit our times together as we went through our growing years. Lonnie and I played in the house and yard together as children. For 8 years we shared a pull-out couch off from the kitchen until we moved to a larger house with our own rooms. Pauline shared a very small room upstairs with our aunt, even after Aunt Babe had a severe stroke.

Lonnie was a role-model for me. He was a serious child who did well in school, and in all the work we had to do at home, or on jobs at the homes of people in the neighborhood. Pauline was even more focused, and was a straight A student all the way through high school. I had some tall shoes to follow. “Are you the brother of Alonzo or Pauline?” Same schools, same teachers, same expectations. It was a lot to live up to.

Lonnie became an Eagle Scout in Troop 12. I joined troop 12 seven years later but only lasted a month. Lonnie ran the hurdles in track. I also ran the hurdles. Lonnie joined the Air Force and was into electronics. I joined the Air National Guard and worked in radar. Lonnie became one of the first people-of-color to be a Customer Engineer with IBM. A year after him I became the first person-of-color in the new IBM Apprenticeship Program in Computer Electronics.

The family was proud and not surprised at Lonnie’s graduation from the NY Institute of Technology when they announced that he had won the prize for the highest grade in electronics.

Lonnie and I never saw each other at IBM. He worked in New York City, and I worked in Poughkeepsie. During my 5 years with IBM I never saw another person-of-color who was an engineer, technician, or scientist. I imagine Lonnie’s isolation was similar to mine. We were not just two dots under a microscope; we were two brown dots under an electronic microscope. All of our peers were college graduates mainly from MIT, Harvard, Stanford, NYU, Columbia, Carnegie Mellon, or some other prestigious college. We both enjoyed our work with IBM. Lonnie so much that he stayed with them for 37 years.

What I learned from Lonnie and my father was to work hard, don’t complain, and do your best. I will miss Lonnie very much, and I still feel lucky that he was my brother and friend throughout my entire life.

Open Mind
A column by 
Offie Wortham

He is a Futurist and a former Research Scientist, Civil Rights Leader, Social Activist, Community Psychologist, and College Professor. 
He is now a Free-lance writer and volunteer in several agencies in Vermont. 
Previous columns by 
Offie Wortham PhD
are available from the archive