Reverse Lottery

The island state of Jimbala is set to end its national lottery after fifty years. Jimbala's state-sponsored game of chance is best described as a reverse-lottery and was first devised as an ingenious alternative to taxation. The reverse lottery takes place every week and participation is mandatory. Match five balls and your 'prize' is that government will empty your bank account. Match the bonus ball and officials will come around to your house and remove whatever assets you have left.

Inevitably, this system raises far less cash than traditional forms of taxation but for many years it has been perfectly adequate. Jimbala is a small island with just two roads, a single school and little need for extensive spending on legislative processes. Even its police force consists of just one man who was able to supply his own hat.

Jimbala has also been able to boast that its lottery has created more winners than any other in the world - the 'winners' here defined as the people who manage to hang on to their own property. But times change and a significant increase in Jimbala's defence spending has prompted the move to more conventional forms of taxation. Even so, many islanders remain puzzled as to why a nation whose military might previously numbered three men in tin hats with a catapult should suddenly want an aircraft carrier.

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