Finally, a major California institution has offered Californians the kind of advertising campaign we need to hear: “Believe in Something Bigger,” it asks us, and we should. Instead of the stale, small debate about California’s future, evidenced again this month with the release of the revised budget, we should be thinking about a bigger, better California, and how to build the new governance system, infrastructure, and human connections to make it possible.
Unfortunately, “Believe in Something Bigger” is the slogan of the California lottery.
The ads are for Powerball, specifically. They include some very clever radio ads with “California Dreamin’” playing in the background, and a series of posters and billboards around the state that say, “Believe.”
Even the notion of big change and belief has been put in service to the fantasy that wealth will fall from the sky.
Of course, this is the thinking that drives not only the lottery but also the leaders and people of this state. We’ll be bailed out by that surge of revenues or economic boom around the corner. Or another Gold Rush.
Such belief is so durable that it’s crowded out thought, and planning for the future.
And we’ve wasted so much time that the gambling lobby is seizing perfectly good reform slogans.