The high desert teenager matures just a little

Expanded from the 7-27-2003 Daily Sparks, Nev., Tribune
An updated version appeared in the 7-31-2003 Comstock Chronicle

The High Desert Outback of the American Dream is a very interesting place because we are so very primitive. Nevada stands at the center of so much because we are the most pliable and amoral state in the nation. Our reputation of doing anything to scrounge a buck is both attribute and affliction.

We are a politically weak and wide-open boomtown. Bring on nuke testing — jobs, jobs, jobs — but no nuke waste. Any kind of vice is cool, no matter how many people get eaten alive. If you don't like it, move. You're on you're own. Don't look to government to take up the slack of our predatory major industries (gambling, boozing, smoking, mining, whoring, weaponizing and nuking).

This is boomtown where the bastards buy the bastards and the best ones stay bought until a higher bid comes along.

This month, something changed.

For the first time in over a hundred years, single-industry dominance of our sprawling company town was weakened. Mining used to reign supreme, supplanted in the past half-century by gambling. In the recently concluded legislative session, non-gambling businesses were able to build enough of a coalition to stop the casinos from imposing taxes on everyone but themselves.

It shows that the Sagebrush Plantation has a chance to grow up a little. This third world branch of the USA may now legitimately harbor uppity ambitions.

PSYCHIC PREDICTIONS. Last week and on April 20, I excerpted some quotes from a speech I made during the darkness of the Reagan years. Like indigestion, it keeps burning 'round again: "Nevada seems hooked on the horns of Ronald Reagan's New Federalism," I noted in 1982. "A dozen years ago, Philip Hauser said something which rings all too true today: 'The federal government will be turning over funds to state governments which, by any standards, are more inept, more subject to special pressures, more incompetent to do the job and more corrupt than any other branch of government.'"

Earlier this month, Dubya proposed spinning off the Head Start pre-kindergarten program to the struggling states, effectively killing a sparkling federal success. Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives, with all Democrats and 12 Republicans opposed, passed by one vote a Head Start death warrant. The GOPers said they wanted the program to be more efficient. Actually, the bill would allow state governors to shunt funds to other programs so that fiscal starvation would create a self-fulfilling prophecy. With such backhandedly-manufactured "evidence," the program could be eliminated in a few years.

I've talked to educators who tell me of a "day and night" difference between children exposed to Head Start and those without. It's a federal success that ranks with WWII, Social Security and Medicare. Which is exactly why kneejerk government haters want to kill it as well as the latter two social programs.

The attitude is best reflected by Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, who was the Libertarian Party's presidential nominee a few elections ago.

Dr. Paul is an obstetrician/gynecologist by trade, although demonstrably a rather stupid one. In opposing the Medicare prescription drug expansion, he said "we're depending on the government to deliver a service. There's no authority to do that and there's no evidence to show that government has ever been efficient to deliver any service."


WWII. Social Security. Medicare. Hoover Dam. The highway you drive every day. Medicaid. Gulf War I. Dubya Wars I and II. The development of Taxol, the drug which cures cancer (now available only via license from some greedy corporation). Most of the money which funds Nevada government. (Despite its assertions, the casino industry fesses up less than 10 percent.) The post WWII GI Bill which gave us the educated brainpower to dominate the whole freaking world today. The list is endless.

Government bashers prosper by giving people an easy focus for their frustrations. Alas and alack, the bombthrowers are complicit in manufacturing the misery by pushing for policies to export our jobs and national wealth.

It hasn't received much attention, but the same conservatives who drove the Clintons nuts have recently scored an embarrassing revelation against Dubya and the Cheney gang. Judicial Watch has been trying to find out what the VP talked about in his infamously secret meetings with energy execs in March of 2001. Turns out that the working papers included a map of Iraqi oil fields with a list of vendors interested in a piece of the action.

What She Said

Juhasz speech draws diverse groups together

Corporate Out-of-Control

These pseudo-conservatives apparently have great faith in what government can do as long as they are in control. If you want to learn more about how the shell game is played, showup this Tuesday for a seminar hosted by the Alliance for Workers Rights. Antonia Juhasz, Project Director of the International Forum on Globalization, will speak at 6:00 p.m. at 1101 Riverside Drive in Reno. She will focus on the relationship between the military invasion of Iraq and the expansion of corporate globalization policies. For more info, call (775) 333-0201.

THE SCORE. Nevada's congressional reps split along party lines on the Head Start vote. Shelley Berkley, D-Las Vegas, voted against gutting the program. Jon Porter, R-Clark County, and Jim Gibbons, R-statewide, voted with the GOP one-vote majority to begin the education death spiral.

CABLE CAPERS. A rebroadcast of last Thursday's City of Reno Citizens Cable Compliance Committee meeting will run at 8:00 p.m. tomorrow, July 28, on Sparks-Reno Charter Cable Channel 13. My fellow committeemembers get into important pocketbook and policy issues, so turn on, tune in and tell a friend.
(Unofficial website for cable issues: <>.)

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Copyright © 1982-2003 Andrew Barbano

Andrew Barbano is a 34-year Nevadan, a member Communications Workers of America Local 9413 and editor of and Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune since 1988.


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