(Pat Hickey) – If the recent Special Session of the Nevada Legislature taught us anything it’s that Nevada is at a philosophical and political divide in the road.
Do we veer to the “left” and race headlong down an Autobahn toward expanded government services and California-like tolls to get us there? Or do we take the path to the “right” along the Sagebrush State’s loneliest highway and remain one of the lowest taxed and smallest public sector states in the nation?
Tea Party types routinely get lambasted by pundits for being the intellectual equivalents of Neanderthals. Many liberals view those they consider political dullards as clinging to an archaic 18th century notion of a limited and low-taxing government that no longer meets the needs of present day America’s diverse and dependent society.
Supposedly enlightened progressives envision building a new superhighway to the future with European-style social democracy as its ideological GPS. Conservatives of course, prefer re-tracing the political steps that delivered America to what most of the world still considers the Promised Land.
If less government and lower taxes are the preferred mode of a “rear-view past”, we only have to look to the European model to see the yellow brick road future many dream of. According to the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation (OCED), a typical citizen from the U.S. pays on the average of 30% on every dollar in either taxes or social benefits like health insurance. The French on the other hand, pay 48% of each Euro and the Germans over 50%.
What Mad Max out there wants to lead us down that primrose lane?
New figures from the Department of Employment report shrinking wages for every private sector job category in Nevada, with only the government sector showing slight increases. Employers across the state are cutting hours and reducing workers pay. In the middle of the worst recession since the Great Depression, how can raising taxes be the correct answer to the state’s public and private woes?
Even longtime liberal activist and gaming lobbyist, Billy Vassilliadis, baulked at Democrat proposals for casinos to further pony up, because it would mean more layoffs to an industry that already has 37,000 Nevadans crowded in unemployment lines.
Which road should we take?
Next year’s elections will go a long way in deciding whether Nevada continues on the path of “Californicating” its state government, or accepts living within its means when times get tough. If there is a sensible third way to re-structure the way we operate—we’d better find it soon.
Robert Frost preferred the lonelier road. For now, Nevadans should too. Especially if we don’t want to see our future foreclosed on because we couldn’t pay the mortgage.
(Mr. Hickey is a Republican candidate for state Assembly District 25 in Reno)