Gambling and condoms

“I used to be a heavy gambler. But now I just make mental bets. That’s how I lost my mind.”—Steve Allen

Lotto makes me feel good. It allows me to dream in between draws. The disappointment that comes with losing lasts only until the next draw. What’s a few hours of disappointment compared to several days of optimism?

A friend told me that my chances of winning 6/55 are one in 26 million. He said I had better chances of getting hit by lightning. I pointed out that my chances were zero if I didn’t play the game. Last Sunday he called me up and said, “I’d still be rich if you didn’t make me bet on the lotto.”

My caddy is praying novenas and making panata, believing that if she behaved well and promised to do charitable work, God will give her P750 million. “You should also pray for the jackpot,” she suggested.

“I won’t because God is against gambling and He would be encouraging me to gamble some more if He makes me win.”

“Hay, sir, bahala ka sa buhay mo!” she said, exasperated by my twisted logic. But I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

As I was holing out my last putt, I heard a faint whisper coming from my left, “Pray to me, I invented gambling; I can make you win.”

On the way home, my golfing buddy asked why I looked so disturbed. I told him about the sinister whisper that I heard as I was putting and pondering whether it was right to ask God for the jackpot.

He replied, “God does not exist, so the Devil cannot exist.”

I didn’t want to get into an argument with an atheist when all I was looking for was a sure-fire way to win the jackpot, so I asked him, “Aasa na lang ba ako sa swerti [So I should just rely on luck]?”

“You have nothing else,” he replied.

“Pero hindi ko alam kung papaano magdasal sa kanya. Ni hindi ko alam kung saan ako titingin, sa langit ba o sa ilalim ng lupa [But I don’t know how to pray to Luck, I don’t even know if I should look up to Heaven or down in the direction of Hell].”

We rode in silence after that. And it was killing me. So when we reached Claire de la Fuentes’s parking lot or Edsa, when it still functioned as a street, I asked my driver to turn the radio on.

That’s when I heard the antigambling crusader, retired Archbishop Oscar Cruz, calling President Aquino “the biggest gambler up to now” for placing the PCSO, along with Pagcor, under his control.

My buddy smirked at that. “Archbishop Cruz is to gambling what PASG was to smuggling,” he said.

“That’s not fair,” I replied. “The archbishop is determined to stop gambling.”

“Oh, really?” he shot back. “Then how come he tells couples to rely on the rhythm method instead of condoms and pills. That’s encouraging high stakes gambling, isn’t it?”

“That’s different,” I replied.

My driver, normally a man who goes about his own business, suddenly interjected, “Sir, I think Archbishop Cruz is confused and myopic.”

“What?” I exclaimed.

Opo sir, he has no vision.”

“What do you mean?” I asked him.

“If he had vision, then he would see that condoms are the solution to the problem of gambling.”

“What do condoms have to do with gambling?”

“Well sir,” he replied, “if couples used condoms and pills, then there will be less children who will be born and grow up to become gamblers.”

Manuel Buencamino

Buencamino was a weekly columnist for Today and Business Mirror. He has also written articles in other publications like Malaya, Newsbreak, "Yellow Pad" in Business World, and "Talk of the Town" in the Inquirer. He is currently with Interaksyon, the news site of TV5. MB blogged for Filipino Voices, blogs for ProPinoy and maintains a blog, Uniffors.com. Game-changers for him, as far as music goes, are Monk, Miles, Jimi, and Santana.

  • Hilarious! There might be something to that connection inferred here though. Hate to go all wonkish on you, but the reason why people enter lotteries is due to the “optimism bias” or our penchant to overestimate our chances at winning when the odds are ridiculously stacked against us. The same bias leads project managers to underestimate the time it takes to complete their work leading to cost overruns.The rhythm method which if adhered to correctly yields a very low rate of fertility among women not intending to fall pregnant (similar to other forms of contraception). That is if adhered to consistently with the proper tools for remembering. It might be overoptimistic for couples to rely on their will power alone to abstain during the fertile weeks of women. Of course the Church advocates prayer as a way of coping with their “urges” during this time. The fact that women report having more children than they actually wished, points to the folly of relying on people’s will power, divine assistance notwithstanding.Neuroscience tells us that our minds actually have inner “angels and demons” pulling us apart (to delay gratification or not). The problem is that certain genes if present make listening to our better angels much harder to do, which is why there are individuals more genetically disposed to certain forms of addiction.Those among us who advocate libertarian paternalism believe there are ways for public policy to improve social outcomes both in terms of gambling and reproductive health without necessarily intervening too much in people’s choice sets and belief systems particularly for those who are unperturbed by their inner demons.

    • Manuelbuencamino

      Doy,

      It would be nice if both the information and the means were available to all those interested. I’m not too concerned about about offending people because these things are not forced on those who don’t like it.

      • MB,
        I agree with you on the general principle of providing information and access to RH (so do 69% of pinoys apparently), but I think it is when the proposals within the RH bill get translated into operational terms that a lot of the discussion bogs down in debate, and where support for it might dwindle in Congress.
        For instance, at what school age should RH instruction be introduced and what form should it take? At what school age ought girls and boys have access to the means of contraception or birth control? Should ALL schools be mandated to comply with this, including Catholic schools that disagree with it? As for adult women, the best time to teach them is during their first pregnancy (most teachable moment).
        The conditional cash transfers program intervenes at a very late stage in that regard since by the time they send their first kid to school, there might be a second or third one on the way. Should we follow the Danes and assign one nurse per new mother to provide support in caring for her newly born or is this too much of a nanny state solution?

        • GabbyD

          but we can all agree that a debate on the specifics is at least a step to the debate we (the country) is having now.

        • Manuelbuencamino

          Doy,

          Below are my replies to your questions:

          “For instance, at what school age should RH instruction be introduced and what form should it take?”

          I think 7 or 8 years old. Why? Because many Catholic schools send kids to confession and holy communion at that age. So the school officials must have believed that 7/8 year olds already know the difference between sin and virtue and where mature enough to choose between heaven and hell. I went to La Salle and we went to first communion in grade one so i was 8.

          “At what school age ought girls and boys have access to the means of contraception or birth control?”

          Around 12, the age of puberty when boys can impregnate and girls can get impregnated. By this age 12 year olds would already have had 4 or 5 years of sex education and preparation.

          “Should ALL schools be mandated to comply with this, including Catholic schools that disagree with it?” Good question. I think ALL PUBLIC schools YES. But Catholic and other religious schools that do not receive any funding from the government should be given an option because they are PRIVATE schools.

  • Hilarious! There might be something to that connection inferred here though. Hate to go all wonkish on you, but the reason why people enter lotteries is due to the “optimism bias” or our penchant to overestimate our chances at winning when the odds are ridiculously stacked against us. The same bias leads project managers to underestimate the time it takes to complete their work leading to cost overruns.
    The rhythm method which if adhered to correctly yields a very low rate of fertility among women. That is if adhered to consistently with the proper tools for remembering. It might be overoptimistic for couples to rely on their will power alone to abstain during the fertile weeks of women. Of course the Church advocates prayer as a way of coping with their “urges” during this time. The fact that women report having more children than they actually wished, points to the folly of relying on people’s will power, divine assistance notwithstanding.
    Neuroscience tells us that our minds actually have inner “angels and demons” pulling us apart (to delay gratification or not). The problem is that certain genes if present make listening to our better angels much harder to do, which is why there are individuals more genetically disposed to certain forms of addiction.
    Those among us who advocate libertarian paternalism believe there are ways for public policy to improve social outcomes both in terms of gambling and reproductive health without necessarily intervening too much in people’s choice sets and belief systems particularly for those who are unperturbed by their inner demons.

    • Manuelbuencamino

      Doy,

      It would be nice if both the information and the means were available to all those interested. I’m not too concerned about about offending people because these things are not forced on those who don’t like it.

      • MB,
        I agree with you on the general principle of providing information and access to RH (so do 69% of pinoys apparently), but I think it is when the proposals within the RH bill get translated into operational terms that a lot of the discussion bogs down in debate, and where support for it might dwindle in Congress.
        For instance, at what school age should RH instruction be introduced and what form should it take? At what school age ought girls and boys have access to the means of contraception or birth control? Should ALL schools be mandated to comply with this, including Catholic schools that disagree with it? As for adult women, the best time to teach them is during their first pregnancy (most teachable moment).
        The conditional cash transfers program intervenes at a very late stage in that regard since by the time they send their first kid to school, there might be a second or third one on the way. Should we follow the Danes and assign one nurse per new mother to provide support in caring for her newly born or is this too much of a nanny state solution?

        • GabbyD

          but we can all agree that a debate on the specifics is at least a step to the debate we (the country) is having now.

        • Manuelbuencamino

          Doy,

          Below are my replies to your questions:

          “For instance, at what school age should RH instruction be introduced and what form should it take?”

          I think 7 or 8 years old. Why? Because many Catholic schools send kids to confession and holy communion at that age. So the school officials must have believed that 7/8 year olds already know the difference between sin and virtue and where mature enough to choose between heaven and hell. I went to La Salle and we went to first communion in grade one so i was 8.

          “At what school age ought girls and boys have access to the means of contraception or birth control?”

          Around 12, the age of puberty when boys can impregnate and girls can get impregnated. By this age 12 year olds would already have had 4 or 5 years of sex education and preparation.

          “Should ALL schools be mandated to comply with this, including Catholic schools that disagree with it?” Good question. I think ALL PUBLIC schools YES. But Catholic and other religious schools that do not receive any funding from the government should be given an option because they are PRIVATE schools.