Terry Lanni, CEO of MGM Mirage, explaining why his gaming group is pulling out of both the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce and the Nevada Resort Association after the trade associations failed to convince the Legislature to enact the gaming industry's agenda during the recently concluded session:
"We're tired of being rejected out-of-hand, of having heavy feet stomp on our hands and heads."
Yes, let's shed a tear for the helpless, politically impotent gaming industry in Nevada, incapable of finding anyone in the establishment to listen to its tales of woe and destitution. We must all remember that Las Vegas was built by such hardscrabble entrepreneurs as Bugsy Siegel, Meyer Lansky and Sam Giancana, who barely had two nickels to rub together when they decided to create a paradise in the desert. As Dr. Evil might say, "This is ri-god-dam-diculous."
A bit of context may be helpful. The gaming industry has never been, shall we say, subtle, when it has lobbied lawmakers in previous sessions. This year, from all reports (including this one), the gamers were completely over the top in the way they bullied, browbeat and otherwise intimidated lawmakers who wouldn't toe the line. The methods backfired, and no one feels a bit sorry for them.
The role of the Culinary union in the legislative session is a fascinating study of how organized labor is so intertwined with the political left that union leaders often end up working against the interests of their members. The Culinary -- which represents primarily housekeepers, custodians and restaurant workers in hotel/casinos -- worked nonstop to pass the highest tax increase imaginable. What's wrong with this picture is that the lion's share of the new revenues will go to public employees. So we have a labor organization representing people earning $10 an hour going to the wall for people who earn at least twice that much (and often a lot more). For what? Maids and busboys will pay a lot more for a six-pack of beer and a carton of smokes. The schools aren't going to get any better. Public services will continue to stink. But so long as the Legislature can "get" Wal-Mart, and local Culinary bosses can move up the hierarchy of the AFL-CIO, it's all worth it.
Lawmakers in fantasyland
This Review-Journal editorial points out some of the unintended consequences of the new Nevada tax plan. We also have a little fun:
(T)he state's political establishment continues to live in fantasyland. "The taxes we passed will not go to the individual," argues Assembly Majority Leader Barbara Buckley, D-Las Vegas.
Say what? Who, then, will pay higher taxes on alcohol, cigarettes and car rentals, fees on real estate sales and filings with the government? Is the money buried in the desert, does it grow on trees? Do businesses (in the words of humor columnist Dave Barry) bake it into pies? You can't suck $836 million out of the private sector and hand it to the bureaucracy -- no matter what the method -- and not expect some ramifications for individual taxpayers.
Any day you can poke fun at the politicos by citing Dave Barry is a great day to be alive.