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On the Sliding Scale Of Cynicism Vs. Idealism, I like to think of myself as being idyllically cynical. (Patreon, Ko-Fi.)


After Celestia's School For Gifted Unicorns runs out of repair money and none can be found in Equestria's budget, Luna invents a means to raise the funds. Now if she can just keep it from destroying the nation's economy...

(Part of the Triptych Continuum, which has its own TVTropes page and FIMFiction group. New members and trope edits welcome.)

Now with author Patreon page.

Chapters (1)
Comments ( 53 )

Tulips are banned, eh? Was there a bit of a problem with Dutch ponies overdoing it?

I think Luna would have been better served by making the lotteries a frequent event, and making sure that everyone knew they would be frequent. Perceived scarcity drives up perceived value (this would make the vicious cycle of herd instinct even worse). If it was a regular thing, and everypony knew it was going to be a regular thing, ponies wouldn't be dumping their life savings all at once. Or maybe they would, after Pinkie's proclamation. Of course, Luna wasn't expecting it to take off like it did, and this is the sort of thing that is much easier to spot in hindsight.

Pinkie Pie's premonition of a presumably prodigious profusion of fortune was perhaps the poorest possible phenomenon. Suddenly, everypony knows that the winning ticket is in Ponyville. And since you know where the winning ticket will be sold, you're surely justified in spending even more of your savings on the lottery, since instead of competing against everyone, you're only competing against the ponies in Ponyville. And all the other ponies with the same brilliant idea, and of course none of these ponies with this brilliant idea accounted for the fact that lots of other ponies had the same brilliant idea :facehoof:.

Oh mercy. Here I thought Pinkie Pie, against all probability, would pull out a set of numbers no one had bought yet, after which point refunds would happen, but there are some things too impossible even for Pinkie Pie.

"a plan in the heart of a flaw"

Beautiful turn of phrase here. Just stunning.

I just went through the story and fixed errors which were invisible at one in the morning.

The lesson here is probably to avoid doing supposedly-final edits at one in the morning.

A beautiful little story. Love how inventive the solution was, truly only something Pinkie could make real. :pinkiehappy:

This is totally why I don't play the lottery. ...I mean, I don't rely on the Princess of the Moon and the most random pony in the world, but you know what I mean.

I really liked how Luna dealt with everything in this story. It just felt like Luna.

Great one-shot and I can't wait to read more. :twilightsmile: (Now that I think about it, Twilight must have gone insane during this week. :facehoof:)

You just hafd to write this. So I would stay up for for....a while..and stuffd ...an....*collapseszxvvfddffcxc&*""*

It baffles me that this isn't more popular than it is. It is truly touching without being schmaltzy, and the emotions of all those in the story feel GENUINE- reading this, I found myself thinking 'Yes, that's how Luna would react". What I liked BEST, however, is the way you addressed the lotto-fever which still periodically sweeps the world whenever a local jackpot gets big enough- showing the consequences not just to the people who gamble more than they can lose but also to society as a whole. It wouldn't surprise me if you were an economics student at one point.

Very well done.

The reference to tulips was AMAZING. You really have a great grasp of history to add something like that to the end of the story.


Aw, man, I've got to be that one dude who doesn't get the reference. What's the banning of tulips all about?


There was a time in Dutch history where tulip bulbs were considered extremely valuable. The speculation and sale of tulip bulbs got so out of control that when the bubble collapsed, the economy of Holland completely collapsed.

Another awesome story! :twilightsmile:

As always, characterization is dead-on, and the dialogue is realistic. And I love how all your fics have consistent terminology and style (e.g. backlash and under Moon). Another winner!

3402227 Well, it didn't collapse completely. Our country's Golden Age continued for about 30 or 40 years after the bubble burst in 1637. The few thousand people who had seriously invested in tulips were in pretty big trouble, though. Anyway, it certainly is a nice reference to the first widely described "market bubble" phenomenon.

And again, Estee, what an excellent story! I love how you combine Luna's personal fears and desire to prove herself with the social and economic woes created by the lottery. Together, they drive a genuinely interesting and original conflict, at the heart of a story with many angles and layers. You definitely are one of my favourite authors on this site by now. :moustache::moustache::moustache::moustache::moustache::moustache::moustache::moustache::moustache::moustache:

What a wonderful story, with a great set up, flawless execution, a mix of random and ongoing humour (The story v the students), feels for the princess and a good ending.

Really surprised this hasn't been more popular. I would personally add it may be because it's one big long chapter, which makes it difficult to read sometimes. Just a friendly suggestion as it nearly put me off. :scootangel:

The ending was a little obvious, but not so much that it was spoilt - shifting all those bits back to ticket holders would be a job for the most organised of ponies, even if it's only between 80-90% of them

Twilight, you're up again :twilightsmile: and can you organise all of Equestria whilst you're at it :twilightoops:


Pinkie Pie's premonition of a presumably prodigious profusion of fortune was perhaps the poorest possible phenomenon.

The amount of alliteration in this adage is astounding.

Very good little story that truly shows the herd mentality of the Ponys and to what end it could and can lead them.

(Horns and amulets hadn't quite found a permanent position yet.)

You need to retcon this. In Pony Up A Tree, Rarity says, Another deep breath, enough to make her saddlebags shift. "From left to right, you always arrange your card suits in the following order: wings, amulets, horns, horseshoes."

He saw things other did not.


Loved re-reading this story. Following the updated timeline is fun, and the characterization, world building, and interactions in your fics is amazing.

There is no need for protective eyewear during an eclipse. That is a myth, pure and simple. The admonitions of danger are because "oo, I've never seen the sun do that before" is a temptation to actually stare directly at the sun. The actual danger is no different than any other day -- unless you're dumb enough to KEEP STARING the worst you get is an annoying afterimage and a headache. You may also sneeze.

From the Eclipse fic, it seemed to imply everyone looking up right before it started, to a bit before it ends. So yes, everyone is staring at the sun for a few seconds before the actual eclipse hits.


The total eclipse only existed here and was, as with the perpetual dawnlight in the daytime Solar Courtyard, illusion. Normal Sun would return at the instant anypony stepped outside. But it was a very effective illusion and Celestia, who had emerged from the between in a back corner nook she kept empty for such jaunts, out of sight from press and sibling alike, found herself briefly glancing up at the fierce solar corona, allowing herself to be as fooled as everypony else. Her sister was an artist and taking a moment to appreciate the creation was worthwhile.

This isn't an eclipse in motion. This is an effectively permanent total solar eclipse, with the solar corona clearly visible. Under those conditions, the light is dim enough to not pose a danger. Further, any lens thick enough to protect eyes against a partial eclipse are also strong enough to block out that display. And as a final point of the ridiculousness of the situation, as I said, an eclipse is no more dangerous to your eyesight than the naked sun. If Luna had a partial eclipse going on, you still wouldn't need glasses just to walk into the room and undergo normal activities. The Eclipse fic actually points that out as to why animals didn't need protection.

For a series of fics that rant against misinformation in media so often, it's actually doing a bad job of being factually accurate here.

Ah, I see what you meant. I thought you were referring to the other story.
Yeah, a permanent eclipse probably wouldn't warrant sunglasses unless the user completely forgets and looks at the sun again when he leaves the courtyard.

Link a dozen or so of those dreaming ponies to each other (which was much more complex and even she couldn't keep it intact for long

*arches an eyebrow*

And along came "Do Princesses Dream"

Spooky, isn't it?

Also, maybe she could have placed a cap on the total number of bits the winning ticket would have received?

One ticket per pony
One million bits to the winner
All proceeds from ticket sales go to whatever the lottery is being held for

Ah well

I reviewed this story!

My review can be found here.

The BlogPost about stealing phishing site lead me hither.Lotteries seem like a good way to raise money without raising taxes, but they tend to make desperate poor ponies more desperate and more poor. I recommend biting the bullet and raising a progressive incometax. Use this formula:

t = ( m / r ) - ( c + d )

t = Tax-Owed
m = Gross Income
r = rate
c = Constant
d = Deductions

Here is an example:

m (gross income) equals 20,000.00 U$D.
r (rate) is 2.
c (constant) is 10,000.00 U$D.

t (taxes owed) equals 0.00 U$D.

If income equals 0, the tax is negative 20,000.00 U$D (the government pays out 10,000.00 U$D). This formula allows mincome.

Let us suppose that one earns 50,000.00 U$D and has no deductions. One owes positive 15,00.00 U$D.

If the income of one is 10,000.00 U$D, one owes 40,000.00 U$D.

At large values, the tax is nearly flat:

1,000,000.00 U$D, one owes 49,000.00 U$D, while someone earning 1,000,000,000.00 U$D owes 499,990,000.U$D which is 1,002 times greater.

So far, no pony had been banished. Several had wound up desperately shielding their nightscapes from the possibility of follow-up visits.

Does that actually work?


As far as anypony knows. (Remember, the only true test would be Luna trying to break through.) It's a fairly basic working.

Is is a mental discipline, or some kind of spell?
If its a spell, how did it get invented? Are there other dreamwalkers? If its a normal mind trick, how do you keep it going through the actual sleeping process?

I really, really like this fic. What I like best, is that it doesn't go for 'lotteries are evil'. They are a perfectly reasonable idea. It's just that, like many perfectly reasonable ideas, they fail to account for one simple thing. Namely? People can be stupid. And ESPECIALLY ponies, due to a VERY well done example of 'herd' stuff.


My main worry about this, is that it can have some pretty severe unintended, and unforseen consequenes. WHAT they are...I don't know. That's why they're unforseen!

The biggest one, would be the possibility of wiping out any hope of an upper class completely. Which could be a serious issue. SOMEONE has to run the companies, after all. Now, in current America? It's weighted far too much against the upper class.

The other issue, is that it could turn the government itself INTO the upper class, which is one of the things that killed Communism. (Besides incredible corruption, and completely destroying ingenuity).


¡You worry about the upper class! ¡The upper class is rich! ¡The upper class does just fine! ⸘On which planet do you live‽ ¡I hate whiny rich ponies complaining about having to give up less than half of their multi-million-dollar income, thus leaving them with only millions of dollars after taxes! ¡They should give up their wealth and join the 47% by getting a minimum-age job at McDonald's!

⸘Do you know why the 47% does not pay income-tax‽ ¡They are broke; one can neither get blood from a turnip nor income-tax out of somepony earning starvation-wages! ¡Give me a break from your wealthy entitled whining!

¿How, pray tell, could a a linear equation for tax with a negative offset so that it has mincome (not enough mincome to live because we do not want ponies opting be lazy and live on mincome, but enough so that ponies can make house/rent-payments for a few months until they find new jobs or make a living for a few years if they find themselves underemployed while they wait for being promoted to full-time or finding a full-time job)? ¡It is a linear equation!:

You need not worry about the rich. The rich can take care of themselves. Under this system, the richer a pony is before taxes, the richer a pony will be after taxes because it is a linear equation. Let me show you. You can follow along at home. All you need is pencil, and paper, but you can use calculating devices, if you want:

t = ( m / r ) - ( c + d )

t = Tax-Owed

m = Gross Income

r = rate

c = Constant

d = Deductions

let us set, just for the sake of argument, r to 2 and c to 10,000.00 U$D. Let us cap deductions at 100,000.00 U$D —— ¡Nothing makes me feel better than knowing that millionaires abuse the horeapples out of deductions to the point where they pay a smaller percentage of their income than I do!

Let us look at the taxes owed and the income after tax of 2 ponies.

Pony A has a gross annual income before taxes of 1,000,000.00 U$D. Pony B has a gross annual income of 1,000,000,000.00 U$D before taxes. In both cases, their accountants found every deduction possible, so they both maxed out the allowable deductions so d is 100,00.00 U$D. Let us run the numbers:

Pony A:
( 1,000,000.00 U$D / 2 ) - ( 10,000.00 U$D + 100,000.00 U$D )
(500.000.00 U$D)-(110,000.00 U$D)
Tax = 390,000.00 U$D
TakeHomePay = 610,000.00 U$D

Pony B:
( 1,000,000,000.00 U $D / 2 ) - ( 100,000.00 U$D + 100,000.00 U$D )
(500,000,000.00 U$D)-(110,000.00 U$D)
Tax = 499,890,000.00 U$D
TakeHomePay = 500,110,000.00 U$D

the gross annual income of Pony B is 1,000 times that of Pony A. Pony B pays 1282 times as much tax as Pony A. The TakeHomePay of Pony B is 820 times that of pony B.

Because the equation is linear, for the obscenely wealthy, this is effectively a flat tax. The c really helps the poor though:

Pony C is a pony who could not afford university. Pony C works full time earning minimum wage. Pony C has no deductions (this makes the mathematics easier because the deductions would cancel out anyway (Pony C pays 12, 00.00 U$D in rent annually; so now, gets a 12,000.00 U$D rent-deduction)):

Pony C:
( 20,000.00 U$D / 2 ) - ( 10,000.00 U$D )
( 10,000.00 U$D ) - (10,000.00 U$D)
Tax = 0.00 U$D
TakeHomePay = 20,000.00 U$D

The company down-sizes, so Pony C becomes unemployed:

Pony C
( 0.00 U$D / 2 ) - ( 10,000.00 U$D )
( 0.00 U$D ) - ( 10.000.00 U$D )
Tax = -10,000.00 U$D
TakeHomePay = 10,000.00 U$D

This in mincome. It is too small to live off of indefinitely, but buys Pony C a few month to find a job.

Pony C finds a job, but it is only minimum wage at starts at part-time with only 30 hours a week, but leads to full-time and more than minimum wage after a year or 2:

Pony C:
( 15,000.00 U$D / 2 ) - ( 10,000.00 U$D )
( 7,500.00 U$D ) - ( 10,000.00 U$D )
Tax = -2,500.00 U$D
TakeHomePay = 17,500.00 U$D

Pony C receives some much needed income support until pony C transfers to full-time employment.

Please play with the numbers yourself and try different values of m, r, c, and d and different caps on maximum allowable deductions. It is a linear equations are not scary and very common:

Griffons are omnivorous. Allow griffons eat sentient animals, they are very humane. No griffon would eat a sapient being. Gilda wants to bake a turkey. One bakes turkeys at 200 C. It takes a minimum of 1 hour to bake a turkey. Turkeys need 1 hour per kilogram; thus the equation is:

Time = ( 1 hour ) + ( (1 hour ) * ( kilograms ) )

This is another linear equation Let us solve is for a 6-kilogram turkey:
( 1 hour ) + ( ( 1 hour ) * ( 6 ) )

Time = 7 Hours


I'm also having a lot of trouble actually reading your post. (Where are you from?) But, apparently, you're saying that everyone who has cash below X, gets money to bump them up to Y, and everyone who doesn't, gets a flat tax rate of 50%...and then you give a bit of a bonus in deductions and such, to ensure that people below a certain income don't get taxed to death.

Also, I misspoke in my previous one. It's biased against the LOWER class at present, and they tend to get it up the bum. The rich get rich, the poor get poorer. My worry in this case, is the potential of an unforeseen consequence of OVER simplying it, and how it would handle issues such as corporate income and all, property tax, etc.

It's an interesting ARMCHAIR theory, I'm just worried how it would work out in reality.


What you wrote about the tax is wrong:

It is a continuous linear function. Ask your mathematical teacher to explain equations of the form


where m and n are numbers.

for every dollar extra one earns, one pays n% more taxes. In the example I gave, the0-point is at 20,000.00 U$D (one does not owe taxes). Less than that the tax reverses and gives money to the taxee. at 0.00 U$D, the tax is negative 10,000.00 U$D/year. One cannot live indefinitely on thus, but it buys somepony who lost a job several month of time for finding a new job before becoming homeless (it provides a safetynet while still making lazy ponies have to work because it is not enough to meet one's needs indefinitely).


I understand what a linear function is. (I'm in Calculus right now, actually)...I'm just having trouble translating it from applications to reality. Sorry. I'd talk more, but we've really gotten off topic.


Let us set aside deductibles. We have

Tax-Owed = ( tax-rate / 2) - 10,000.00 U$D

Let us rewrite that as

y = m x + n

y = ( x / 2 ) - 10,000

If you click on the link, you can see a graph at WolframAlpha.com.

As you can see, it is a line. It crosses y at negative -10,000 and x at positive +20,000.

That is negative -10,000.00 U$D at 0.00 U$D income and 0.00 U$D and positive +20,000.00 U$D. In other words, if one earns less than 20,000.00 U$D/year, the government pays one, but if one earns more than 20,000.00 U$D/year, one pays the government. X is annual income and y is taxes due, whether positive (one pays the government) or negative (the government pays one). Just look at the graph at WolframAlpha.Com.

¿Do you have any questions?


Nope. I'd pretty much already gotten it once I got over deductibles. Thanks. :)


And simply add deductions to the Constant

tax-owed = ( Income / tax-rate ) - ( Constant + Deductions )

An example of of a deduction is rent. If one pays 1,000.00 U$D/month in rent, that is 12,000.00 U$D year:

Tax-Owed = ( Income / Tax-Rate ) - ( Constant + 12,000.00 U$D )

Let us set the income of an hypothetical pony to 30,000.00 U$D, the Tax-Rate to 2, the constant to 10,00.00 U$D and have a Rent-Deduction of 12,000.00 U$D:

Tax-Owed = ( 30,000.00 U$D / 2 ) - ( 10,000.00 U$D + 12,000.00 U$D )

Tax-Owed = ( 15,000.00 U$D ) - ( 22,000.00 U$D )

Tax-Owed = -7,000.00 U$D

The government pays the hypothetical pony 7,000.00 U$D.

¿Why is this fair?:

The pony had to pay 12,000.00 U$D that year in rent. After rent, the 30,000.00 U$D is 18,000.00 U$D. After receiving, 7,000.00 U$D, the amount of money left over after taxes is 25,000.00 U$D. This is the exact same amount of money the pony would have after taxes, if the pony would save money by living in a refrigerator-crate rent-free:

Tax-Owed = ( 30,000.00 U$D / 2 ) - ( 10,000.00 U$D + 0.00 U$D )

Tax-Owed = ( 15,000.00 U$D ) - ( 10,000.00 U$D )

Tax-Owed = 5,000.00 U$D

30,000.00 U$D - 5,000.00 U$D = 25,000.00 U$D

The Amount of money after taxes is identical.

One should cap deductions at, let us say 1,000,000.00 U$D, to prevent the super rich from dodging taxes with phantom-deductions (expenses which exist only on paper). This is an all-to-common strategy of the super rich for keeping their money. Certainly, one has some rich ponies with legitimate expenses of millions of dollars who cannot deduct them past the 1st million, but this is a case of most super rich ponies ruining it for the rest of the super rich ponies. Interestingly enough, taxes helped Mister 47% loose the 2012 US-Election:

Mister Romney complained that 47% of the population are too poor to pay income-tax. That really did not endear him to the working poor.

Then during the election, it came out that Mister Romney paid 13% income-tax in 2011, while President Obama paid 20.5% in income-tax in 2011.

On Election-Day 2012, Romney got 47% of the popular vote.

Now, he has the nick-name of Mister 47% for his comments about 47% of ponies not having enough money to pay income-tax and for receiving 47% of the popular vote.


That'll do, Walabio...that'll do. *headpats*

While this was an interesting and deep story, the thing I have to say refers more to a minor part early on:
The mention of the poker games that the mane 6 play.

Now, I know you have your reasons for why RD always loses, and while I disagree with them, I can understand them.
However, I think it would be interesting if there was a story where RD finally won one.
How she won it and what happens as a result would, of course, be up to you (though I have a few ideas for both (one of the former actually having come to me thanks to another story I read)).

Man, the stakes and Luna's doomsayings made this feel even darker than Triptych.

You really have a knack for taking a comedic premise and wringing trauma from it.:pinkiecrazy:

Interesting to see that the ponies of Equestria have no understanding of probability.

This story is witty as your stories always seem to be, but the excellent characterization is what steals the show. The evolution Luna's disposition from pride to fear to guilt, etc. in response to the escalating situation was really something to behold. Her solution was very clever, but its sacrificial nature was among the most impactful parts of the story.

not to mention servants setting up belly-slide runs in her dripping wake.

That is an AMAZING mental image.
Early morning before the rest of the palace wakes up, a member of the night staff slides across the water-slick marble like a penguin on their belly. Others are patiently waiting for their turn while a member of the palace guard stands watch nearby, festooned with frilly aprons and loose pieces of armour like an ambulatory hat rack.

Wow. I have a tendency to really get invested into stories, picture the characters' actions, imagine their own voices and inflections... Luna's breakdown MADE ME CRY. Maybe it's just that her fears and self-blaming thoughts resonated with me, since I and two of my siblings struggle with anxiety and/or depression. Whatever the cause was, I felt Luna's emotions in a very real and visceral way. You should be proud of yourself for such quality writing.

That one ticket rule is kind of important. :rainbowlaugh:

For anyone thinking that humans are any less suseptible to herd mentality, please refer to the events of The film: "Kelly's Heroes". :pinkiehappy:

What's that about Tulip's?

I meant why were they banned in Equestria?

I love it when authors take a simple idea and really explore it. Nicely done.

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