(Dick Geyer) – Thinking of Las Vegas, it is one of a kind – so bringing in “experts” from other cities is worthless. In my opinion we need to be what we are; an entertainment and recreation center like no other.
My analogy has been Detroit, also a blue collar town with its one major industry; autos companies, and then auto parts. We have hotel/casinos and construction. Detroit didn’t decline because folks stopped buying cars. It was primarily due to excessive costs driven by bad contracts with unions. Las Vegas is a union town, too, and must get them under control to not follow Detroit into the toilet. That starts with government entities, none of which should be allowed to have collective bargaining, as it is actually extortion because they are monopolies.
So, we need to get serious and stress efficiency as well as the creativity of the private sector. We are not really “Sin City” anymore. 37 states have gaming and most cities have strip clubs. This state was built on quickie divorces, plus a monopoly on 24/7 gambling, two hideously immoral acts in their times. Now, we need to go to the next level of “sin”.
1) Legalize marijuana. We all know its coming. Let’s jump to the head of the line.
2) Legalize prostitution in Clark and Washoe counties. What’s the big deal when there are thousands of them already on the job on or near the Strip and it’s legal in the remainder of the state?
3) Become the mecca for gay marriage/honey moons after the Supreme Court OK’s it and our state prohibition is voided. Gays are one of the key groups in Richard Florida’s “creative class” books. Many cities have benefited from what they have added to both the arts and electronics. They also tend to be more educated, which is good for attracting companies that want that demographic.
(Detroit’s Wayne County has 17.2% college grads, Clark County has 17.3%.They have one mediocre university, Wayne State, and we have UNLV…another ominous parallel.)
Another cost besides wages and housing that affects companies decision’s to move here is electric power.
On the state level we need to allow the most efficient forms of energy to be provided. Coal and gas come to mind. Wind, solar, geothermal, and nuclear can be developed in their good time. We cannot afford to follow the “greens” to our economic peril.
If I were Governor, I would ask all the various energy providers to present plans for the next 25 years showing where they want to build power plants and power lines. Then I would give the various groups that have objections to file their law suits with one year to do so. The suits should then be taken to the courts and resolved, so when a company wants to build a wind mill, new power line, or gas powered plant, the location is truly shovel ready and without the expense and travail of litigation.
As to education, I have been on the board of BEACON since its founding under the auspices of the Nevada Policy Research Institute (NPRI). I have read a lot of books and been to meetings with the old and new Clark County School District CEO’s. I have espoused all types of reforms, starting with “empowerment schools.” I am also an alumni interviewer for applicants to Princeton University, so I know first hand there are highly qualified students in the county.
Based on what I have seen and read, in my opinion schools can be improved, but the problem of overall scores cannot be fully solved.
The recent column by Pat Buchanan in the December 30th Las Vegas Review-Journal about how children from some cultures disdain schooling is the politically incorrect reality. When you break down the totals for our country’s whites and Asians, we do fine internationally. Plus, our African-American and Hispanic students also score well vs. students in the countries of their origin.
Changing a cultural bias is very difficult, and I don’t have an easy answer. Not recognizing this reality and continuing to do what we are doing obviously will not solve the problem.
And this problem seems to be a big one for the future of Clark County. The CCSD student ethnic distribution for 2009-2010 was: Hispanic 41%, Caucasian 34.6%, African-Americans 14.1%, Asian 9.6%, and Native America .7%. The two under performing groups already equal over 55%, and may be climbing.
To continue the comparison, Detroit (Wayne County) with 40.5% black and 5.2% Hispanic has a total 45.7% in those two under performing groups.) This means a very large portion of our current students here in Clark County will not be prepared or inclined to be more than blue collar workers.
So, in conclusion, Las Vegas is Las Vegas. It’s like Detroit demographically and economically due to its dependence on two industries, which requires a large number of blue collar workers. I don’t know how to change that in my lifetime, so I fully agree that we need to stick to our knitting and slowly evolve into an economy that is diversified around the edges. Government spending that does not recognize this reality will be wasteful and fruitless.