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SOS and Chicken Follytix
by Andrew Barbano
Jan 23, 2011 | 660 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
“Patriotism is for old women and little children. I’m here to protect my stockholders.”

So stated a high officeholder about a century ago, according to the best history professor at Fresno State. (My college days memory tells me it was Woodrow Wilson, but I have never been able to re-confirm it.)

The two-thousand-yo’leven crapshoot legislative session convenes on Feb. 7. Prepare for cruel and unusual punishment from Gov. Brian Raggio and the usual suspects.

We are now just months away from state government answering the burning question of the age: Does SOS mean “save our state” or “salestax on services”?

I’m making book on the latter. Nevada always royally screws the least among us. Christian, we ain’t.

In the past few days, a lot of good people and organizations have launched legitimate plaints prostrating and peripherally perverting themselves, pleading for pennies to save jobs and the economy.

With all due respect, they are uniformly chicken.

Nobody wants to touch the gambling industry. The 800-pound gorilla in the room is being ignored while low-paid government workers, especially state employees, get kicked in the teeth.

With all due disrespect, public pleadings aren’t going to make much difference. Who sticks whom will be flayed and flailed behind closed doors. The result will be ugly.

So here again I present the sane Barbwire program that can salvage some semblance of modernity to keep the High Desert Plantation from sliding further toward the 19th Century.

1. Unwind the 1981 Tax Shift (aka the Tax Shaft) which reduced property taxes and made us dependent on unstable sales taxes, three of every four dollars of which are paid by Nevadans.

2. Close loopholes allowing the mining industry to get away with murder.

3. Get lawmakers to do what they promised and failed to do in 2009: Close many of the corporate welfare tax exemptions in state law. My favorite is the sales tax break for NASCAR teams at Las Vegas International Raceway. Casino mogul Steve Wynn’s tax subsidy of his megabucks art collection was another.

4. Eliminate STAR Bonds, which have put the City of Sparks in serious financial jeopardy thanks to the underperforming Marina/Scheels development. Next year, Sparks owes $25 million to the Kansas suede shoes who developed the disaster. A few years back, I made a half-dozen predictions. All have come true save the bankruptcies of Sparks and Reno, which now loom closer.

5. Raise the tax on our largest, most profitable casinos, which, with minor exceptions, continue to enjoy the lowest taxes in the world. Don’t believe it when big casinos cry poor boy. For more info go to JoeNeal.org.

6. Stop squandering room tax and property tax money on casino promotion through convention authorities and downtown redevelopment agencies. The room tax was originally imposed to support local projects but has long since been skimmed by the gambling industry to promote with tax money what private business should do for itself.

7. Tax profitable enterprises which pay nothing or next to it, such as Wal-Mart and the Hyatt Place hotel at the Reno airport.

8. Remember that the state can be successfully sued to raise taxes to support education. Former University Chancellor Jim Rogers published legal research noting that 27 other jurisdictions have lost in court. That study will be linked to the expanded web edition of this column at NevadaLabor.com, as will the legislative report which admits the illegal underfunding.

As the old Fram Oil Filter ads once advised, you can pay me now or pay me later.

Death and danger on the pipeline

Union member Charles Kuhn, 61, of Dresden, Ohio, was killed last Dec. 7 while working on the massive interstate gas pipeline job currently snaking its way across Nevada’s northern tier. A section of the huge pipe rolled over him.

The massive job is being built without enough qualified safety inspectors. Those that are working have been furloughed one day a week due to state budget cuts.

So a good man lies dead on the High Desert Plantation in Ronald Reagan’s America where workers are disposable and interchangeable.

Prediction diction

Not that it took rocket science, but this column accurately predicted on Jan. 9 that the Washoe County Commission would choose lawyer Greg Brower to succeed the resigned State Sen. Bill Raggio, R-Reno. Big Bad Bill remains our most powerful state-level politician, second in juice behind only U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. Raggio is both shadow governor and broker of enough votes to provide the slim Democratic state senate majority enough to override a gubernatorial veto — in the unlikely event that Raggio’s on-leave employee, our new governor, doesn’t follow orders.

Memento moment

César Chávez Celebration IX is right around the corner and this year, it happens while the legislature is in session. César Chávez would have been 84 on Thursday, March 31, 2011. We will celebrate the great union man and his message at Circus Circus-Reno that evening. Watch NevadaLabor.com for news, ticket and sponsorship info.

Back from the ashes department

Support the return of community radio and television to Sparks-Reno-Washoe. See Barbwire.TV for more information, to join the club and contribute via the web. It’s important.

Be well. Raise hell.

Andrew Barbano is a 42-year Nevadan, chair of the Nevada César Chávez Committee, member of Communications Workers of America Local 9413/AFL-CIO, editor of NevadaLabor.com and JoeNeal.org. E-mail barbano@frontpage.reno.nv.us. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks Tribune since 1988.
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