Alas and alack, the devolution of the middle class, heralded by the coronation of King Ronald the Vague, is morphing from class war into uncivil war. Brother fights sister for crumbs from the table of the rich, famous and powerful. The grovelers down on the floor are too desperate to look up to see who’s picking their pockets while pimping their daughters.
The moonhowler propaganda machine waxes magnificent in its ascendance over all that we are allowed to behold. (See the web edition of this column at NevadaLabor.com for the history of how they not only got us to drink the Kool-Aid, but also convinced us to pay premium prices for it.)
Corporate greed, abetted by politicians of all stripes who sell too cheap, have given us Great Depression II. I am so sick and tired of hearing that governments are like families who must spend less when times are tough. Governments are nothing like families and must expand during tough times to hold homes and families together. That’s why we have them, the institutional equivalent of passing the hat to help when someone is in need.
But on the local, state and federal levels, the propaganda machine now perpetuates the Kool-Aid-fueled myth that taking money out of the economy will help the economy.
Here on the High Desert Plantation, it has apparently become necessary to destroy the education system in order to save it.
Last week, I had high hopes that the good guys would finally ride to the rescue. On May 4, the Progressive Leadership Alliance produced a slickly-printed if poorly reasoned book with a series of proposals. The next day, the Nevada Legislature’s Democratic majority presented a 90-page Powerpoint dog-and-pony show at Western Nevada College in Carson City.
Alas and alack, the hope which springs eternal wilts quickly in thin Nevada air. Both outfits advocated screwing the poor one more time by tacking a sales tax onto services. Sales taxes are regressive. The less money you make, the bigger the percentage of your income they take. We have pretty much the most regressive tax structure in the country. At minimum, we are competitive with enlightened bailiwicks like Mississippi.
Adding insult to injury, the legislative proposal suggests a new business tax based on one now in effect in (Maalox alert) Texas! Jawhol, a tax idea from the Bush leagues, the place trying to erase Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Justice Thurgood Marshall and union leader César Chávez from its history books. Evolution and global warming stop at the Rio Grande.
Las Vegas Sun reporter Anjeanette Damon wrote that “Democrats have never liked the broad-based business tax passed after an all-out battle in 2003. The modified business tax assessed on payroll, they argue, is a disincentive for businesses to hire people or increase salaries. They want to replace it with a tax on business revenue in a plan strikingly similar to the gross receipts tax proposal that brought the 2003 Legislature to a standstill.”
The late Gov. Dudley Do-Right has been praised by liberals for signing the 2003 tax hikes into law. (The state rebated $300 million two years later, a major fiscal mistake. Most treated it as found money and Nevada casinos enjoyed a profit spike as a result.)
Nobody seems to remember that Gov. Guinn’s original proposal, which I re-dubbed the Grotesque Receipts Tax, would have been a zero-tax windfall for his patroons and poltroons in the gambling industry.
Allowing for casino corporate welfare payments from the public treasury and the deductibility of state taxes on a federal income tax return, the net new liability of the entire gambling industry would have been a whopping $6 million a year. Dudley’s GRT would have allowed the state’s biggest welfare queen to escape for chump change.
Fortunately, one state senator and one clever lobbyist stopped the barbarians at the gate.
MGM Mirage dropped out of the Nevada Resort Association shortly thereafter. CEO Terrence Lanni complained that his taxes had just gone up $30 million a year. What he didn’t say is that an unheralded passage in the new law redefined top executive compensation, opening up guys such as his esteemed self to substantial new personal federal income tax liability. Poor, sweet babies. My heart bleeds to this very day.
Lightening the load with levity, the legislative Democrats’ proposal is unintentionally self-satirical. Under the title of “Reconstructing Nevada for the 21st Century,” it shows a map of Nevada being encased behind a brick wall.
Guess what, children? Looks like Pink Floyd got it right all those years ago.
We don’t need no education.
We don’t need no thought control.
No dark sarcasm in the classroom.
Teacher, leave those kids alone.
All in all, you’re just another brick in the wall.
Be well. Raise hell.
Andrew Barbano is a 42-year Nevadan and editor of NevadaLabor.com where links to the above comic material may be found, along with the Barbwire 60-second logical and thus impossible fix for Nevada’s fiscal ills. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks Tribune since 1988.