I hate it when I'm right
Expanded from the 4-29-2007 Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune
How screwed up are we? Lemme count the ways.
WATCH FOR RATS ON THE ROPES TO THE DOCK. The owner of Sparks' Silver Club just put his casinos on the market. As Depression-era financier Bernard Baruch reputedly said, "anyone who ever made money sold out too early." Harold Holder has apparently noticed all the little critters carrying suitcases leaving the ship.
THE SECOND BUBBLE HAS BURST. Warning signs have flashed for several years that the real estate bubble, which replaced the dot-com bubble, would have no successor. The national economy is slowing toward recession just in time for the presidential election. (Don't take this as predisposing a Democratic win. The GOP usually prevails by donkey default.)
"The No. 1 question is can the consumer continue to play Atlas while the housing market crumbles around him?", Argus Research economist Richard Yamarone told the Associated Press.
BUBBLE NUMBER THREE. When the next depression hits, the government will be unable to do much about it. (Think New Orleans after Katrina, only much worse.) Dubya's dunces have pumped up the economy for the past five years with the worst kind of inflationary spending possible war. Peace is bullish. Spending money on non-productive areas like weapons, deaths and maimed soldiers is the single worst way to undermine the system. After it's built, a tank doesn't plow a field. A tractor contributes many times over many years, earning a return on investment. We are about to re-learn another of the harsh lessons of Vietnam all over again.
Only government can kick-start a slumping economy. But the Bushies have been spending like it's 1933 for the past five years. There's no pump left to prime.
THE WELL-GREASED GRIND GAME. Corporate America has profited enormously by exporting U.S. jobs and leaving lower wage work to citizens or immigrants. This gets the lower classes fighting each other over the crumbs while the fatcats have their cake and eat it, too.
The U.S. worker hasn't had a raise since the 1973 Arab oil embargo. In the name of "fighting inflation," the Federal Reserve has cooperated fully by maintaining a level of unemployment just high enough to keep workers from getting real pay increases. Wages and benefits comprise the largest cost for just about any business. Rising employee compensation is the biggest contributor to inflation, so the death spiral of the middle class worsens while profits rise.
Meanwhile, worker productivity (output per man-hour) has gone through the roof, as insecure employees break their backs to avoid the next round of "right-sizing."
From day one, the intent of Dubya and his shotgun sidekick has been to make a shambles of the federal government and our faith in it while delivering lots of money to their cronies both foreign and domestic.
Foxes infest all our chicken coops. Oil companies make obscene profits despite the slumping price of crude. No one will print the reason: the elimination of retail competition. (See the Barbwire Oilogopoly Archive, now in its 13th year.)
So how does all this affect the man on the street in Sparks?
A NOTE FROM PRINCESS CASSANDRA. A couple of weeks ago, my Tribune colleague in columny Jake Highton wrote a piece extolling the need for a state income tax. (He has published similar opinions over the years.)
Rogers dares utter dreaded 'income tax'
Las Vegas Sun 4-26-2007
Businesses confident aversion to tax will hold up
Las Vegas Sun 4-26-2007
No attaboys on taxes, but Rogers is all over it
Las Vegas Sun 4-28-2007
This came in response: "That was one compelling 'speaking truth to power' column. Sadly, the cynic in me says you and I will be long gone before Nevada realistically addresses its infrastructure needs, especially including the means of applying a state income tax. The refugees that have flocked to this state as a tax haven are sinking an already long overburdened ship of state."
A few days after Highton's column, Jim Rogers, chancellor of the Nevada System of Higher Education and owner of Reno's KRNV TV-4 and KVBC TV-3 in Las Vegas, became the first high official in memory to advocate a state income tax.
Highton's reader was correct about our physical (think roads) and mental (education) infrastructure needs. But all of the above betray amnesia.
The whole purpose of legalizing gambling in 1931 was to provide for the deficiencies left by an otherwise moribund economic base.
The gamblers have forgotten the deal and are now huge corporate welfare queens. But no one in power, not even the contentious Mr. Rogers, seems willing to take on the casino moguls.
So frustrated PTA mothers picketed the state legislature last week when the state senate, led by Sen. Maurice Washington, R-Sparks, killed a bill to allow Reno-Sparks voters to raise taxes to build new schools.
Gambling has been rightly termed "voluntary taxation."
Nationally noted expert I. Nelson Rose once said that "when gambling is everywhere, it will be nowhere."
The gambling industry has little interest in an educated work force. They basically don't like education, as the onetime dean of the UNR journalism school found out when she came here 25 years ago. The boys downtown added that they didn't support economic diversification, viewing it as competition for the low-wage labor pool. She made the mistake of telling the Reno Gazette-Journal of her conversations with the gambling moguls and was severely chastised for her ill-advised display of naive newcomer candor.
Report: Sin City image repels corporate relocation
In Business Las Vegas 4-27-2007
He meant that the only way a local economy can justify gambling is if it extracts taxes from non-residents. As soon as the scales tip toward cannibalizing the locals, gambling will start to dry up.
Northwestern Nevada has already taken out an insurance policy against such a downturn. A decade ago, only 17 percent of local jobs were casino-related and we've dropped a couple of points since. Gomorrah South seems comfortable building megaresorts and leaving lower budget gamblers to be scalped in California.
Nonetheless, our 800-pound gorilla continues to foul the living room, acting like a metastasized Wal-Mart privatizing profit while socializing risk, sloughing the costs onto you, me and the pothole in the street.
"Perhaps it is time to realize that we really don't have a state government here in Nevada, and that weve never had one," someone once said.
BLAST FROM THE PAST. "Nevada's state government is still a territorial administration. Why let UNR and UNLV degenerate into Reno State and Las Vegas State College? Why don't we consider shutting both schools down altogether. Let's make Nevada live up to the reputation it already has that of a 20th Century boomtown mining camp. Let's forget all those wonderful plans for economic diversification.
"Hewlett-Packard wouldn't touch Reno a decade ago because of what they considered a substandard educational environment for a high-tech industry. Las Vegas lost a major new industry more recently because it was viewed as a cultural wasteland and they walked away even though all other conditions were right. It was just that the area was perceived as a poor place to bring up a family. Maybe we should stop being such hypocrites, trying to change an image we deserve."
Those remarks are from a 1982 speech I delivered at a symbolic location: Reno's venerable Depression Deli which went out of business long ago, its E. 4th Street location now occupied by a topless joint.
Be well. Raise hell.
Barlett, Donald L. and Steele, James B.; America: What Went Wrong? (1992); America: Who Really Pays the Taxes? (1994); America: Who Stole the Dream? (1996) ; Andrews & McMeel/Universal Press Syndicate. For additional comments on the work of the two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning team, use the NevadaLabor.com search engine and sweep for "Barlett."
The Orwell Diversion by Alex Carey
Excerpted from the book available below
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
SEE ALSO: Lapham, Lewis H.; Tentacles of Rage: The Republican Propaganda Mill, A Brief History; Harper's Magazine cover article; September, 2004, page 32.
By one conservative estimate, the corporate right has spent about $3 billion over the past three decades manufacturing public opinion to suit big business goals. Lapham's number covered the early 1970's to the present day. Alex Carey noted that by 1948, anti-New Deal corporate propaganda expenditures had already reached $100 million per year, not adjusted for inflation, for advertising alone. (Carey, ibid; page 79)
Adjusted for inflation, that 1948 $100 million becomes $8,520,829.88 in 2007 dollars.
Conservatives Help Wal-Mart, and Vice Versa
As Wal-Mart struggles to rebut growing criticism, it has discovered a reliable ally: conservative research groups.
New York Times 9-8-2006; Free registration may be required
BARBWIRE: Labor Day '94: People vs. corporate con job, 9-4-94
Chilling forecasts from Alex Carey
BARBWIRE: The Nevada Republican Party Becomes Communist, 3-30-97
A prescient Plato on the dangers of oligarchy
The sands of time do not cloud the long memories of the sheiks of Araby
Rinfret, Pierre A.; Peace is Bullish; Look magazine, 5-31-1966
Barbwire Oilogopoly Archive
I've been telling you so for more than 10 freakin' years
Recent BARBWIRE Media Hits
and Ego Trips
The Dean of Reno Bloggers could very well be Andrew Barbano, self-described "fighter of public demons," who started putting his "Barbwire" columns online in 1996 and now runs 10 sites.
RENO NEWS & REVIEW, 11-9-2006
BARBANO: Nevada's newly-hiked minimum wage is nowhere near enough
Reno Gazette-Journal, 11-11-2006
Site composed and maintained by Deciding Factors NEWLY UPLOADED BLAST FROM THE PAST
The reasons behind the failure
of Nevada's first non-smoking casino
NevadaLabor.com | U-News | Bulletins + Almanac
Casinos Out of Politics (COP) | Sen. Joe Neal
Guinn Watch | Deciding Factors | BallotBoxing.US
DoctorLawyerWatch.com | Barbwire Oilogopoly Archive
Barbwire Nevada Corporate Welfare Archive
War Rooms: Cabbies, Cable TV, Cancer Kids, Energy, Resurge.TV, Starbucks, Wal-Mart
Search this site | In Search Of...
Copyright © 1982, 2007 Andrew Barbano
Andrew Barbano is a 38-year Nevadan and editor of NevadaLabor.com. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune since 1988.
Comments and suggestions appreciated. Sign up for news and bulletins