Remote community mostly ignores national paradigm shift

they're on the map
A visionary agenda has failed penetrate the thick, tall wall business interests have built around one small Nevada town.
they're on the map
A progressive economic agenda has thus far failed to penetrate the thick, tall wall business interests have built around one small Nevada town.

Precious, precious capital gains. Cutting the capital gains tax rate used to be the fanciest and most beloved economic cause of Republicans. Now their most beloved cause is Trumpism, of course. But they are whining that Joe Biden’s plan to raise the capital gains tax rate will impede the crucial role America’s idle rich play as “job creators.”

Which is sort of new, in a way: Preaching about capital gains over the years was so effective for Republicans that the mainstream Democratic position on the issue was hardly ever for raising the rate, but merely against Republican desires to cut it. Which was just another legacy of the wholesale late 20th/early 21st century Democratic capitulation, most memorably signified when a triangulating Bill Clinton, future Fox News performer Dick Morris whispering in his ear, declared “the era of big government is over.”

Biden’s proposal to increase the capital gains tax rate, in addition to being sound and long overdue policy, is also good politics – another reflection of the U.S. public opinion paradigm shift on economic issues and priorities. You know, the paradigm shift that has yet to penetrate the thick, tall wall business interests have built around Carson City so as to shield state legislators from ideas business doesn’t like.

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Juxtaposeurs. If you watched Biden telling the nation that the era of big government is overdue, you may have found yourself juxtaposing the ambition of that agenda with that of Nevada’s elected Democrats in Carson City, whose priorities are anchored by a steadfast commitment to continue letting business push them around.

And with Biden gabbing about spending trillions of dollars to remove barriers that make life harder for people than it needs to be, you might have missed his executive order to establish a $15 minimum wage for federal contract employees. But if you noticed it, perhaps you made an additional comparative contrast.

One of the most glaring failures (of which there will be many) of the 2021 legislative session will be this: Virtually every elected Nevada Democrat, including of course in the congressional delegation, supports raising the federal minimum wage to $15. Yet the Democratic governor and the Democratically controlled Legislature are perfectly willing to just let Nevada’s wage ever so slowly inch up to a lousy $12 in 2024. Spineless. But pathetic.

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Mind the gap. The difference between what your beloved resort industry CEOs make and what their employees make continues to do what it has been doing for decades – the gap keeps growing, and growing, and growing… and yes that includes during the pandemic, the Review-Journal reported.

To be fair, our heroic hotel-casino executives are the smartest, bravest, most talented, gifted and wonderful white men in the state. Everyone says so. If they weren’t grossly and obscenely overpaid, they’d just take their magic and their genius and their precious talents to another industry, and poor Nevada and its elected officials would be getting bossed around by inferior, second-tier hotel-casino executives.

And so, in conclusion, now, clearly, is no time to raise the gaming tax.

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Darned out-of-control government spending, part 1. “Absent government assistance, U.S. personal income would have declined 1.2% in 2020. In Nevada, the decline would have been significantly worse at 3.5%. Only Hawaii would have felt a steeper decline of 6.2%.”

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We the 331,449,281 people. Nevada’s population growth was among the nation’s fastest over the last decade. But it was a low bar. The first batch of 2020 census data released this week showed the U.S. population grew less on a percentage basis between 2010 and 2020 than in any decade since the 1930s. Nevada’s population grew 15 percent during the decade. Between 2000 and 2010 it grew 35 percent.

Declining birth rates and less immigration than in the 2010s or the 1990s are among leading direct causes of the nation’s lower population growth. But I presume the multiple underlying causes include the wars, the Great Recession, and the general freakiness, which I will collectively categorize as 21st century buzzkill.

The U.S. population has been getting older for a long time and the smaller birth rate means we will get older still. If you are wondering who is going to pay Social Security taxes so all of us can have Social Security benefits, you should also be hoping the U.S. finally enacts some immigration policy that is less byzantine and more welcoming.

By the way there are oodles of interesting bits and pieces in the census data, including this: The District of Columbia’s population grew by 14.8% to 689,545. Wyoming’s grew by 2.4%, to 576,851. Of constitutionally approved U.S. Senate allotments, Wyoming has 100%, and D.C. has … (checks math) … oh right, 0%.

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Darned out-of-control government spending, part 2. Nevada gambling revenue topped one billion American dollars in March for the best single month since 2013. A state Control Board guy said in addition to pent-up demand, “these numbers also benefited significantly from stimulus payments allowing for increased spend by customers across the state including locals and visitors.”

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14,000 years? Pfft. The bones of an ice-age mammal – some manner of horse, maybe – were found during the excavation of an area swimming pool. I grew up a few miles from Fossil Butte, Wyoming and I have fossil fish laying around the house that are 40 to 50 million years old. So there.

(The above items are excerpts, some slightly massaged, of material published in the Daily Current newsletter, the editor’s opinionated morning news roundup, which you can subscribe to here.)

Hugh Jackson
Editor | Hugh Jackson was editor of the Las Vegas Business Press, senior editor at the Las Vegas CityLife weekly newspaper, daily political commentator on the Las Vegas NBC affiliate, and author of the Las Vegas Gleaner political blog. Prior to moving to Las Vegas, he was a reporter and editor at the Casper (Wyoming) Star-Tribune.