VaxMillions Giveaway Is a Pretty Dumb Idea [OPINION]
The stupidity that emanates from our elected public officials never ceases to amaze me. This time, though, the administration of Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker has achieved a whole new level of dumbness.
I am referring to the VaxMillions Giveaway that Baker and Treasurer Deb Goldberg have announced in conjunction with the Massachusetts Lottery Commission. Baker and Goldberg plan to give five $1 million "prizes" to Massachusetts residents who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 through a lottery game.
Residents who have been vaxxed and can prove it can enter the lottery beginning July 1 will be eligible to win one of five $1 million cash prizes that will be awarded to reward their participation in the Commonwealth's vaccination program. Kids are eligible, too. Anyone 12-17 who has been vaccinated can register to win one of five $300,000 scholarships to be given away.
Here's the rub: no shot, no money. "If you are not vaccinated, you can't play," Goldberg said.
Is that even legal? Can the Commonwealth legally exclude anyone from eligibility who opts not to receive a vaccination or perhaps cannot be vaccinated due to religious, medical, or other reasons?
And since when does Massachusetts have money to give away? If health officials believe receiving the vaccine is the right thing to do, they should definitely encourage people to do it. Using taxpayer money to lure people into the vaccine program is idiotic. It is so idiotic that it probably will persuade some doubters to roll up their sleeves.
Massachusetts has among the highest indebtedness of any state in the nation and should not be playing foolish games with taxpayer money, especially when not all citizens are allowed to compete for it. And that's another thing: are non-citizens who have been vaccinated allowed to enter the lottery?
File this one under "dumb ideas" and let's pretend that it never happened.
Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.