Welfare queens politick with your money

Expanded from the Sunday, 10-10-2004, Daily Sparks, Nev., Tribune
and the 10-15-2004 Comstock Chronicle

"The world is in an uproar, the danger zone is all around."

                                                                             — From Ray Charles' Greatest Hits, 1964

The genius sang the warning and four decades later the idiots are in charge. President Franklin Roosevelt once said "we have nothing to fear but fear itself."

I submit that in the Age of His Accidency Bush the Lesser, fear is more than enough. Fear has made Osama bin Laden the most powerful man in the world. Fear has made Richard Cheney the most powerful person in this country. Pallid white terror has colored our world with Tom Ridge's brown people warning system. Cowardice in the face of our chicken hawks coming home to roost has allowed the vicious John Ashcroft to vitiate our civil rights and national honor.

It all starts when people start selling out for an inflation-adjusted 30 pieces of silver.

Fear and greed cause our government to bribe and play footsy with the world's dictators. We react today with the same shock and awe as our ancestors. U.S. scrap metal sold to Japan in the 1930s came back at us in the form of planes and bombs at Pearl Harbor. Shock, awe, anger. Fast forward to 2001. A century of picking on nations weaker than us came back in the form of more modern aircraft. Why should we have been shocked.

"Media is the plural of mediocre."

— Jimmy Breslin

I don't blame America first. I blame the perps first and us second for failing to defuse their anger. Sanctions and diplomacy worked to get Moammar Ghadafy to disarm. (The process was almost to conclusion long before Dubya was installed by Count Scalia and the Supremes.)

Alas and alack, like the action movie cowboys we so adore, the accidental president shot first and asked questions later. Thousands of deaths and tens of thousands wounded (ours and theirs) have been the predictable result.

In Nevada, as in Iraq, Afghanistan and Florida, there is real danger in going to the polls. Our general election sample ballot may give you a hernia or slipped disk thanks to the machinations of some of Nevada's more powerful corporate welfare queens.

BIG BUCKS BEGET BIGGER BUCKS. Toward the latter half of the 20th Century, the U.S. entered into an era of mature capitalism. Why innovate when you can just buy an innovative competitor and then make the best capital investment of all: candidates. A relatively cheap expenditure for politicians generates a greater rate of return than those enjoyed by drug companies or drug dealers.

Once the money-grubbing moguls get into government ownership, they can play jokes on us. Such a black comedy is on the November ballot in form of Ballot Question 8.

  "A taxpayer may collect an admission fee for the exhibition of fine art otherwise exempt from taxation on its sale, storage, use or other consumption pursuant to NRS 374.291 if the taxpayer offers to residents of the State of Nevada a discount of 50 percent from any admission fee charged to nonresidents. The discounted admission fee for residents must be offered at any time the exhibition is open to the public and admission fees are being charged." Statutes of Nevada, page 3203

Last week, I noted that the Nevada Museum of Art may be in violation of the law by displaying Las Vegas casino boss Steve Wynn's art collection without offering half-price tickets to Nevadans.

NMA Executive Director Steven High informed me that attorney Margo Piscevich (not a tax lawyer) reviewed the statute and concluded that because NMA is not the "taxpayer" displaying the art, the 50 percent discount for Nevadans does not apply.

Mr. High added that he will ask Ms. Piscevich, currently in India, for her permission to release her written report to me, authorization he certainly does not need.

Just this situation was discussed during the legislative process with respect to what happens when the owner of expensive artworks leases his stash to another party. The context of the legislative testimony involved Mr. Wynn leasing or loaning his personally owned collection to one of his corporations. (Click here for the complete and sordid history of how your lawmakers voted to deprive Clark County school children in order to glorify Mr. Wynn.)

If, indeed, NMA is exempt, would not Mr. Wynn's new Las Vegas hotel-casino be exempt if the corporation charges admission instead of Mr. Wynn?

   "The exhibit, which Wynn says makes up the bulk of his 'museum quality' art collection, had been displayed at the Desert Inn casino before Wynn cleared the building for a $2.4 billion Las Vegas megaresort."

Sparks Tribune, 9-30-2004

Stay tuned.

MORE ARTFUL DODGING. That's by no means the end of the story. Mr. Wynn's outrageous art tax break will be increased should Question 8 pass. (Could that be the real reason for his displaying here in the northern outback?)

Your friendly people's legislature placed Q-8 on the November ballot and included every recently rejected tax dodge. The Eightball would exempt from sales and use taxes both farm machinery and just about everything having to do with the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Why should richly sponsored motorsports teams and corporate farms be subsidized by local school children?

Most cynically, the swine have added a sweetener to the swill: a partial tax exemption for prosthetic devices such as artificial limbs and hearing aids. The late conservative Tribune columnist Ralph Heller railed against this levy for years. (Ralph was hearing impaired.) The last conversation I had on this earth with former Gov. Mike O'Callaghan concerned the sales tax on new limbs for old soldiers such as himself. Now, the disabled are being used as a Trojan horse to win tax breaks for the wealthy.

Bring this up to every politician asking for your vote. We must stand on principal and vote it down. Hard.

SPEAKING OF GOING DOWN HARD. The Reno Gazette-Journal and many other Nevada newspapers were paid to publish the text of ballot questions last week. Almost six of the RGJ special section's eight pages were taken up – at substantial public expense – with the text of Q-8.

CHARTING THE FUTURE AT CITY HALL. On lucky Oct. 13 at the new downtown black tower, the Reno City Council will hear a recommendation from its Citizens Cable Compliance Committee, which I chair. Given fast-breaking new technology, a prejudicial new 15-year franchise agreement and Charter Communications' chronic financial troubles, we have advised the city to develop a long range cable backup plan in conjunction with Sparks and Washoe County.

As I reported on Aug. 1, further complicating matters is Charter's new digital system in Long Beach, Calif. The company recently unveiled technology to bypass any cable regulation by calling everything broadband Internet service.

City staff, as always, has recommended that the council turn down the citizens committee's very detailed proposal. I need your support.

Contact the council, three of whom are seeking re-election, and tell them to give us some insurance against a major new abuse of consumers by our local cable monopoly. If you can't make it to the meeting, you will be able to see reruns through the weekend on SNCAT cable channel 13. Full details and contact info at

Be well. Raise hell.


Reno needs a backup plan for cable

Charlatans, welfare queens and heroes

Welfare queens and debate chickens

Corporate Welfare for Mr. Wynnderful

The Reno Gushette-Journal loves Stevie Wynnder's self-indulgence

The Sparks Tribune's take on the artsy Wynngding

Propaganda for fun and profit

Franz Kafka defeats Frank Capra

The Silence of the Cows

A Blow Against the Secrecy State: Federal government
didn't even want to produce its photo ID law

Las Vegas Review-Journal Editorial 9-17-2004

Campaign 2004: Star Trek Virtual Politics

Father Diamond is Spinning in His Grave

Excerpt: All the President's Spin

The Orwell Diversion by Alex Carey

Review of Alex Carey's "Taking the Risk out of Democracy:
Propaganda in the US and Australia"

ORDER "Taking the Risk Out of Democracy"
Corporate Propaganda versus Freedom and Liberty
By Alex Carey
Edited by Andrew Lohrey
Foreword by Noam Chomsky
University of Illinois Press

CNN's Lou Dobbs' new book "Exporting America" quotes Carey

The 1994 Labor Day Barbwire introduces Alex Carey
A brief history of neo-con PR and the roots of corporate propaganda

PBS/NOW with Bill Moyers: Outsourcing American Jobs

Apathy is never having to say you're sorry

Federal Election Commission: Voter Registration and Turnout 2000 | C.O.P. | Sen. Joe Neal
Guinn Watch | Deciding Factors
| BallotBoxing.US
Barbwire Oilogopoly Archive


Copyright © 1982-2004 Andrew Barbano

Andrew Barbano is a 35-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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