Descendents of mobsters, monopolists, pimps and thieves

Expanded from the 5-12-2002 Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune

Gene therapy shows increasing promise to cure more and more of what ails us. Understanding what makes us what we are provides the keys to fix us when we break.

As it is with the body human, so it is with the body politic. The maladies of today spring from the Silver State's unholy pedigree.

No matter when you or your family came here, regardless of whether you've lived here for decades or merely reside in some Carson City post office box for tax evasion purposes, if home means Nevada to you, then you need to face up to your ancestry.

All Nevadans are the direct descendants of mobsters, monopolists, pimps and thieves. I don't paint everyone with a broad brush very often and don't take the responsibility lightly. But if you're a Nevadan, you need to know who you are and what made you this way.

In the late 1960's, I drove to Gomorrah South to work through the summer. Little did I know that the endless summer would extend more than three decades and counting.

I got my first clue as to the primordial nature of Silver State society when I dutifully applied for a drivers license. To seek out LV DMV, I got a map whice led to a 12-wide mobile home in the middle of a dirt field.

I handed in my laminated California photo-license, took a cursory eye test and signed my name. A woman handed me back a crude card that looked too cheap to be real.

That's all? No identity check? Don't you want to make sure I know how to drive?

"You're from out of state. We've grown so fast that we haven't thought of a lot of laws that have been in existence forever somewhere else," the DMV person noted.

Fast-forward three and a third decades and nothing much has changed. We are still a high desert plantation — the provinces, the sagebrushed outback of the American Dream.

There are basically two kinds of Nevadans -- those who live here to shield their money and those who stay here to make their money. With any luck, the latter become the former.

No matter which category includes you, there are some basic laws of political genetics you need to keep in mind. Doing so will help you retain perspective on your journey and help you avoid some black eyes, pratfalls and pickpockets.

1. CROOKS ARE COOL. Our progenitors were the robber barons of the railroads, the mines and the gambling joints. Their descendants receive special treatment and copious corporate welfare. They continue to pick our pockets to this very day.

2. NEXT-GENERATION CROOKS USE PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS TO UN-BASTARDIZE THEIR LEGACIES. Read my 1996-97 series on the University and Community College System of Nevada for starters. The thugs of old like to buy off respectable institutions in the hope that some of that legitimacy will rub off. A couple of major religious denominations have been co-opted as badly as the U-system.

3. THE NEXT-GENERATIONISTAS PERPETUATE THE PILLAGE by using their cheaply-purchased clout to continue privatizing profits while socializing risks. Want to know what causes most of our social problems and the need to increase taxes to pay for them? The creation of low-wage jobs. I've had a state study proving it posted at for three years.

So what do our elected officials continue to do? Pour huge amounts of corporate welfare into the dinosaur gambling industry, which uses such subsidies to create more lousy jobs and invest the obscene profits into California casinos to send Nevada into an economic death spiral.

4. NO FIXES ARE POSSIBLE WHEN THE FIX IS IN. Wusses from the Nevada State Education Association and the Progressive Leadership Alliance have brought forward tax plans perpetuating Nevada's status of extracting the lowest gross gaming levies in the world. The gamblers have ordered increased taxation of anyone and everyone but themselves. (Big mining got itself exempted with the help of the teachers in 1989. The gamblers admire the prowess of their fellow robber barons. Professional courtesy.)

Gov. Dudley Do-Right has appointed another of an endless series of study panels to tell us what we already know and continue to do nothing about because our lawmakers are largely all bought and likely to stay that way.

5. WAKE UP TO THE FACT THAT YOU'RE LIVING IN A COMPANY TOWN. Gambling, mining and the railroads still run your life by tapping your wallet to fatten theirs.

Don't take my word for it. Take a look at Nevada's genetic code on cable TV. Tomorrow night at 9:00 p.m., re-running several times therafter, you can view "Las Vegas -- The Money and the Power," based on the Sally Denton and Roger Morris book of similar name. The Arts & Entertainment Network (Reno-Sparks Charter cable channel 39) will also air the two-hour program at 1:00 a.m. Tuesday, May 14 and 5:00 p.m. Sunday, May 19.

Links to additional information about all of the above and other ripoffs, like public utilities and gasoline oilogopolists, will be available with the Internet version of this column.

Happy Mothers Day to one and all.

Be well. Raise hell. | U-News | C.O.P. | Sen. Joe Neal
Guinn Watch | Deciding Factors


© 2002 Andrew Barbano

Andrew Barbano is a 33-year Nevadan, a member Communications Workers of America Local 9413 and editor of and He hosts Deciding Factors on several Nevada television stations. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks (Nev.)Tribune since 1988.

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