An open letter to state lawmakers

Steven Miller

Dear Nevada Legislator,

Saturday I walked through my local neighborhood shopping center and then through the residential streets nearby. It was disconcerting to see, in my own neighborhood and among my own neighbors, the ravages of a busted economy.

All the empty stores, and the increasingly run-down condition of numerous houses for sale, reminded me of visits, over the years, to Nevada ghost towns. As Westerners know, when gold or silver was found, the towns would pop up virtually overnight. Then, when the minerals were gone, almost everyone would leave. Only the town’s skeleton would be left behind.

What is happening to Las Vegas, while not quite at that destructive level, is still of that family. The money that was making the town boom (funny-money from a national economic bubble) has disappeared, and so what has followed is the Southern Nevada economic bust.

In short, the level of prosperity we thought we’d achieved here in Nevada wasn’t actually real. To an unfortunate degree, the housing and tourist booms were just part of a financial mania that resulted from years of spectacularly bad Federal Reserve monetary policy – the same policy that caused the worldwide economic meltdown.

It’s not that surprising that the 2007 Nevada Legislature over-estimated the state economy’s capacity to sustain a higher level of services and spending than ever before. After all, even major Nevada business figures, like Kirk Kerkorian and Sheldon Adelson – their near-bankruptcies have shown – also got caught up and confused in the economic frenzy.

However, the situation today facing you and the other members of the 2009 Nevada Legislature is quite different. You now know things that state lawmakers in 2007 did not. You now know that the livelihoods of a record number of Nevadans hang by a thread. You also now know that the state’s economy is not, in reality, up to funding the level of services and spending that state lawmakers erroneously thought it was back in 2007.

Yet, even though it will mean harm to thousands of families in Nevada’s private sector, powerful interest groups are pressuring you to continue expanding spending.

But to do so – to increase taxes in the midst of the widespread economic carnage in our state – would be an act of serious irresponsibility.

The voters are trusting you to do what’s best for the state. And what’s best for the state is to make it the best environment possible for working families and their breadwinners. That means placing no more burdens on the companies that create the jobs these families need.


Steven Miller

Steven Miller

Senior Vice President, Nevada Journal Managing Editor

Steven Miller is Nevada Journal Managing Editor, Emeritus, and has been with the Institute since 1997.

Steven graduated cum laude with a B.A. in Philosophy from Claremont Men’s College (now Claremont McKenna). Before joining NPRI, Steven worked as a news reporter in California and Nevada, and a political cartoonist in Nevada, Hawaii and North Carolina. For 10 years he ran a successful commercial illustration studio in New York City, then for five years worked at First Boston Credit Suisse in New York as a technical analyst. After returning to Nevada in 1991, Steven worked as an investigative reporter before joining NPRI.