Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A Little More Perspective on the "Obama-Vegas-gate" Nothingness Scandal

Oh, joy! We have to talk about yet another "scandal" over nothing. Of course, it doesn't help that Shelley Berkley took to the House floor today just to bash President Obama over offering some good financial advice.

Again, I do think he could have used a better analogy. And from now on, he shouldn't just single out Las Vegas for this national problem of financial mismanagement.

But anyway, it seems to me we have yet another overblown "controversy" that only seems to be benefitting the casinos. After all, the only "bad publicity" is no publicity and this just gives an excuse for the media to basically air LVCVA ads for free.

This is why I was glad to see Desert Beacon offer a strong dose of sanity today to take us past the spin and realize the truth of the situation.

[...] We, like all other communities in the country, would really like to have it both ways. On one hand we want to be the Flashy Dashy Tinsel-Festooned Land Of Imagination, Destination Of Choice. We want tourists to believe in the Razzle-Dazzle. We want Las Vegas to be synonymous with Good Times and High Living. We want them to drop their discretionary income into our machines, and on our gaming tables.

On the other, we want to carve a place for ourselves in the Just Folks At Home Category. We're hard working, just plain folks, just like everyone else who needs some uplift during recessionary times, and people (maybe the President included) should be encouraging those things that would boost our sagging economy, not assailing the diversion of discretionary income into other realms. If we can get past the momentary pique, there are some important points left out of this discussion. [...]

[I]t is also evident that Nevada's economy is entirely too reliant on tourism, and hasn't managed to achieve a level of diversification necessary to secure a more balanced revenue stream. We've functioned as if the magical incantation of "low or no taxation" would serve to attract manufacturing and other economic activities to our region. To that end we've been parsimonious with our funding for higher education, not fully recognizing how local research and development elements are factored into corporate location decision making. In service of that incantation, we've been too reluctant to expend resources on our infrastructure, our airports, rail systems, water supplies, roads, bridges, and waste water treatment facilities. All of these also factor into manufacturing site decision making. And, we've been reluctant to invest in the education of our workforce. We like the training done by our community colleges -- we just don't want to spend all that much money on it.

So as I was saying this morning, President Obama actually made a valid point yesterday... Even if it was a little inartful and insensitive toward those of us suffering in Sin City. When we spend our money on the wrong priorities, we'll eventually pay a hefty and very painful price.

Why won't more of our politicians admit that we're overdependent on the gaming industry for revenue to fund our government? Why aren't we talking about across-the-board progressive tax reform that will stabilize our state's finances while simultaneously easing the tax burden on the working poor? Why aren't we investing properly in such badly needed infrastructure as our state's schools?

Oh, and getting back to this newest nothingness scandal, I also liked what Dave McKee had to say about this today.

Was the term “Vegas” being used symbolically rather than literally [...]? And has not Vegas enriched itself by marketing itself as a synonym for free spending and heedless excess (*cough*Golden Globe-winning The Hangover*cough*)? Thus, aren’t we reaping the consequences of what the LVCVA and others have sown so adeptly? The monetization of “Vegas” has succeeded rather too well, it would appear. Anybody remember “Shut up and play“?

Seriously, this is what happens when we project the "Sin City" image. Hello, people now associate Las Vegas with sinning! When LVCVA airs ads like these...

We're not really projecting the image of a "financially responsible place" where people go to save for their kids' college education. For better or for worse, we're "Sin City" and we need to accept all that comes with the role.

Now I'm not saying we have to give up "Sin City". However, we do need to be more realistic... Both about the image of our town we project to the world and how we take care of our own community. And if we can't, then President Obama won't be the only one "insulting" us in the future.

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