The unified theory of the father, son & holy scientists


A few years ago, I warned of the coming of the Devil Children of Ronald Reagan. Last Thursday at the post office, I finally met one.

He patrolled the pavement pleading the rights of poor Nevada workers, selling people on signing a petition to protect paychecks from evil union bosses. He labored for the $1.50 per signature paid by the Nevada Republican Party with help from billionaire Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson.

The madcap Mr. Adelson comes well-suited to this nefarious enterprise. He's building the superdreadnaught Venetian Hotel on the site of the venerable Sands, which he blew up. The Sands was once owned by Nevada's first eccentric billionaire, Howard Hughes, the front man to whom assorted mob families assigned the task of laundering their investments into the corporate legitimacy of today.

Adelson has made it his business to destroy Nevada organized labor, just as the GOP is trying to do in more than two dozen other states. While unions today represent just under 10 percent of the private workforce, a 50-year low, the old fighter showed some legs during the 1996 election cycle, bloodying a few blue-chip bluenoses. Even though corporations outspent workers as much as 19 times over, big business became enraged at such lower-class impudence.

Soon came federal and state initiatives designed to place so much paperwork on the gathering of union political contributions that they aren't worth having. Why spend $10 a year to obtain one to four dollars per member? (For details on the issue, go to Politics '98).

Many unions, like the Teamsters, use no dues for politics, so passage won't deal a fatal blow. It will represent another step toward making America the "union free" country predicted by management consultants in the early Reagan years. The kid at the post office represented the logical permutation of such aberration.

After gathering my mail, I got the picket sign I always carry in the trunk of my American-made Pontiac. It sports a huge "Jobs with Justice" graphic, showing a rainbow of American faces. Held together with "Union Yes" bumper stickers, I topped it off with the dust jacket of Michael Moore's bestseller "Downsize This!"

The young petition pusher's bearing reflected the cocksure ego of someone concurrently handsome and five-feet, five-inches tall. Before he knew it, he was being picketed and questioned. One golf-shirted gentleman he attracted signed the papers, then gave me the finger as he stepped into his luxury car parked in the handicapped zone.

I tried to tell the young man about the damage he was promoting. He owed organized labor the eight-hour day, paid vacations, overtime pay, worker safety — hell, even the concept known as "the weekend." I told him he might never look forward to a well-paid job if he participated in dragging American workers down to third-world wages.

"Fine," he said. "I plan to work in international commerce, exporting U.S. jobs. I'm making good money now and will use it to spend another six months in Europe like I did last year."

But why hurt the people you leave behind?

"I hate America," he said, "she only knows greed and the drive for money. Europe is much broader."

Then it hit me. He was about 20, a product of the selfish Reagan Eighties. The cycles of history I've read about were coming around to bite me. When I'm old, his generation will be running the country.

As Arthur Schlesinger and other historians have long pointed out, people reflect their formative years, e.g., between 15 and 25. When they come to power 30 years later, they implement their nurturing.

When this kid is 50 and running things, I hope I'm either rich or dead. The only hope the Baby Boomers retain against them is that there are so many of us, and we're having so many kids, that we may yet outvote them.

The power of properly promulgated propaganda is scary. This young man could not care less about the low-wage workers of the gambling-industrial complex. He was deaf to my pleas about the gamblers' grab for power.

GOP gubernatorial frontrunner Kenny Guinn has been telling people he has reserved $500,000 to take over the Nevada State Assembly so that an all-Republican government can control voting district reapportionment. (For news of the first skirmish, go here and here.)

The ruling class is so intent on overpowering the peons that last week Nevada's Democratic governor and junior U.S. senator were both sent out to hatchet State Sen. Joe Neal (D-North Las Vegas), their party's likely gubernatorial nominee. (See "The Empire Strikes Back"

Neal's great sin lies in wanting to raise taxes on mega-casinos like Adelson's.

Nevada gambling enterprises pay the lowest taxes in the United States.

I'm an old campaigner, but even I became unnerved at such a raw display of venom by Sen. Richard Bryan and Gov. Bob Miller.

The like of it has not happened in these parts since Sen. Pat McCarran (D-Nev.) supported a Republican for the junior U.S. Senate seat after the unknown Tom Mechling upset Alan Bible in the 1952 Democratic primary.

Twice last week, I stared into the face of soul-less greed. The political minions carrying water for the overlords I can handle.

I remain frightened and haunted by that cocky young man with the six clipboards. The non-moral I can deal with. The amoral chill my bones.

We must teach our children better than that.

Be well. Raise hell.


© Andrew Barbano

Andrew Barbano is a member of CWA Local 9413. He is a Reno-based syndicated columnist, a 29-year Nevadan, editor of U-News and campaign manager for Democratic candidate for Governor, State Senator Joe Neal.
Barbwire by Barbano has appeared in the Sparks Tribune since 1988 and parts of this column were originally published 4/19/98. | U-News | Bulletins + Almanac
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Copyright © 1982-2012 Andrew Barbano

Andrew Barbano is a 43-year Nevadan, editor of and; and former chair of the City of Reno's Citizens Cable Compliance Committee, He is producer of Nevada's annual César Chávez Day celebration and serves as first vice-president, political action chair and webmaster of the Reno-Sparks NAACP. As always, his opinions are strictly his own. E-mail

Barbwire by Barbano premiered in the Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune on Aug. 12, 1988, and has originated in those parts ever since. Tempus fugit.

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