Episode 85: We’re the ‘Shining City on a Hill’ for the Rest of America

Michael Schaus

Free to Offend Episode 85 | Guest: Dowd Muska, Southwest Public Policy Institute

The American Southwest is a place like no other – culturally, economically, and even politically.

Dowd Muska, with the Southwest Public Policy Institute joined the program to talk about what makes the American Southwest – and Nevada specifically – such a unique place to call home, and why it’s so well positioned to be a shining example for the rest of the nation.

Read the Transcript

Michael Schaus: It is the most beautiful city I think I’ve ever visited in my life. It was fantastic. The weather, the people are awesome out there. They’re wonderful. The only problem with San Diego is that it is in California, and you have to deal with all the California policies.

This is Free to Offend. I’m your host, Michael Schaus. Anybody who has listened to this program for any amount of time knows that whenever I get an opportunity talk about how fantastic Nevada as a state and just a place to live, I do it. I love this place. I love living here. I love living in Las Vegas in particular, but really all of Nevada just amazes me. It is a beautiful, gorgeous state.

And really, it extends even out beyond Nevada. I love the American Southwest. I love Utah. I love Arizona. Well, okay, New Mexico is iffy, but it is gorgeous in New Mexico. I do love visiting New Mexico. I don’t know if I want to live there. And even when I lived back in Colorado in Denver, one of my favorite spots in Colorado was down in the four corner regions.

The entire American Southwest is such a unique place on the globe, not just geographically, but also culturally. And that’s why I’m so excited to have our next guest, Dowd Muska. He’s the Vice President of Research at the Southwest Public Policy Institute. If you don’t know what SPPI is, well hang tight, because you’re about to find out and they do some fantastic work.

If that name rings a bell, though, it’s probably because you’ve read some of his work. He’s been published in Las Vegas Review Journal. He’s been published at National Review. And, once upon a time, he actually used to publish a lot of stuff for Nevada Policy. So, you’ve probably if you’ve been following Nevada Policy for a long time, you probably know the name pretty well. Dowd, thank you so much for joining us. We really appreciate it.

Dowd Muska: I really appreciate it. This is something every guest will say, it’s a pleasure to be here. But for me, it’s different because I was an NPRI employee between March of 97 and March of 2002, so about five full years. I was first in Reno, then in Las Vegas, and then remotely. And it’s just been an honor to come back to my old hometown.

Michael Schaus: Yeah. And I mean, you’ve been you’ve been here part of things here in Nevada for such a long time. Nevada Policy was started in 1991 I believe by Judy Cresanta.

It’s a strange state in a wonderful way, I’m going to put it that way. I love this state politically, and obviously, it’s a gorgeous state. It is kind of strange to me, though; I’ve visited Nevada forever. I’ve lived here full time for six or seven years, something like that. And I realize Nevada is terribly unique economically and politically.

Kind of looking at where the state is right now, obviously, politically, we’ve got a Republican governor and a Democrat legislature. But what’s your outlook on the state of Nevada, say economically, moving forward, because we’re in kind of a weird spot, nationally, and I think locally?

Dowd Muska: Well, I certainly start by just sharing your sort of wonderment and bemusement over Nevada. It is such an interesting place. I did live there. I live in New Mexico right now, but I won’t be long before I’ll be heading in a more westerly direction. And Southern Nevada is definitely on my list of places to possibly settle for the second half of my life, a place that where the federal government controls 90% of the land.

Steve Miller, who used to be very involved with Nevada Policy years ago, was something of my Nevada mentor, teaching me so much about the culture and history of the Silver State, grew up in Winnemucca. And he was a reporter down in Las Vegas in the 1970s. And he used to fight with Bill Roggio. I guess he did something to offend the Senate leader Bill Roggio when he was a mucca mucca District Attorney up in Washoe County. He really opened my eyes to what a curious place Nevada is and the idea of allowing things that are impermissible in other states as economic development, everything from the quickie divorce to legalized gambling to, in the modern era 1971, legalized brothels in the rural counties, counties below 700,000.

Nevada is such a unique place. And not to bash Nebraska or Illinois or Ohio, but we have a lot of what I consider fairly boring places in our country. Nevada does not belong on that list. Nevada is such a unique place. I’m proud to say when I lived there and in subsequent years that I’ve been to all 17 counties.

Next summer I’m actually taking my sister and brother-in-law (my sister married to a guy from Scotland, and they live in Scotland). He is such a Las Vegas fanatic. He has never left Clark County, despite having flown into the state of Nevada so many times. We’re doing a big road trip next year and I’m taking them north up through Tonopah and Hawthorne. We’re going to go to Minden and Gardnerville. We’re going to go to Tahoe and see Reno and Sparks. We’re going to go to Scoopers, the best burger and fries and shake a milkshake place I’ve ever been to in my life in Sparks. We’re going to go out to Elko, my beloved Elko, and the Ruby Mountains there. And then we’re going to come down 93 back down to the city.

I just told him last year or earlier this year, we’ve got to do the circuit of Nevada because you can’t just come to Nevada and only stay in Clark County. I know you love Las Vegas, but he loves the strip more than Las Vegas. But we’re going to do a road trip. And it’s going to be my old stomping grounds because, boy, when I lived in Nevada, I tried to get out of Reno and Las Vegas as much as I could, because there are so many fascinating stories.

So that’s my advertisement for the Convention and Visitors Authority, I guess. It’s just such a fascinating place, a lot like the state I live in now New Mexico. And I think if it weren’t for the federal government in New Mexico, that funds most of the jobs, directly or indirectly, and if it wasn’t for legalized gambling in Nevada, I think both of these states would have probably 19,000 people.

There’s these massive, just chunks of nothing, great beauty, but you can’t compare them to the kind of population concentration and economic development on the coasts where, of course, they’re doing everything they can to shoot themselves in the foot as people migrate into the hinterlands, which I’m happy to see.

I came on full time only in March with the Southwest Public Policy Institute. And we have an eight-state focus, what we consider the eight states of the American Southwest and Nevada is on that list. So, it’s been wonderful for me as the Vice President for Research to have Nevada back in my life in a big way. I’m trying to get up to speed because it’s been some years since I’ve really worked in policy in Nevada.

You’re talking about the strange politics there. I’m a policy guy and a culture guy and a demographics guy, the older I get, the less interested in politics.

Michael Schaus: I am the same way. I want to check out of politics more and more as my life goes on.

Dowd Muska: It’s awful. And Andrew Breitbart was right. It’s downstream of culture. And I think that’s where Nevada Policy and SPPI come in to make our contributions on the cultural side on the policy analysis. And I think people are working on other fronts, whether it’s education, whether it’s ridicule, you know, humor and entertainment, that’s contrasting with this sort of creepy, woke, big government agenda being shoved down our throats.

But I do think there’s a role for public policy think tanks. We may not be as influential as other cultural tools, but I do think we have a very important role to play.

But what I was getting at is Nevada seems to be getting bluer. Republicans actually had the majority in the Senate back when I was working on policy in Nevada. And Bill Roggio, from up in Washoe County was running things. One of those classic Chamber of Commerce Republicans. Now you have Democrat governors, Democrats controlling both chambers of the legislature in Nevada, voting for the Democrat presidential nominee more and more.

As it as it’s getting bluer politically, it seems to a high degree, Nevada is still retaining its more libertarian public policy approach. There still is no corporate tax. There still is no income tax in Nevada. There it is still right to work state, which I think is very interesting. When you see Democrats take over states that are right to work states, whether it’s the governorship or one chamber or both chambers in the legislature, they don’t repeal the right to work status, which is interesting. And there aren’t serious efforts to repeal that right to work status. It’s pretty rare. Michigan just did it. But in places like Nevada, that has not happened, and it’s going to be interesting to see how long Nevada can retain that. And Arizona can retain it as Arizona maybe becomes more democratic as well.

Nevada retains that libertarian freedom-oriented, freedom-oriented in the personal spheres and freedom-oriented in the economic sphere. And I think it’s to the state’s great credit. It’s still a place in America, you can go and hustle. I know there are people who are fighting big government about it right now, but relative to other places, like Massachusetts and California, there’s still a lot more opportunity in Nevada because the heavy hand of government is not as strong as it is other places.

But I was just running the numbers anticipating this discussion last night. At Southwest Public Policy Institute (you can visit us at Southwest policy.com), we are one of the new breed of regional think tanks. There’s another group up in the Pacific Northwest that cuts across multiple states. So, we study Utah, Oklahoma, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and California.

In Nevada, we have a six-month tracking tool to see where the employment trends are running in our eight states. And it’s tough. I mean, Nevada has the worst unemployment rate in the country at 5.4%. That’s 50% higher than the US rate of 3.6%. I looked at the total number of jobs in Nevada. The peak was in December 2019, right before lockdown.

You’ll notice, folks, moving forward I don’t say pre-pandemic, I say pre lockdown. Because germs are incapable of laying down regulations and mandates and passing legislation and making judgments in courts. Germs have no capacity to do that. When we talk about the pandemic, we’re talking about lock-down.

1.503 million jobs December 2019 in the in the great state of Nevada. The state lost 32% of its jobs in the next four months, bottomed out at 1.021 million. June, two months ago, 1.498 million versus the peak of 1.503. Nevada is one of the very, very few states that has yet to claw its way back to the numbers of jobs it had pre lockdown.

It just stuns me to make that observation because New Mexico, which is a severe low growth state, has taken advantage of the Permian Basin oil boom down in Eddy and Lee counties. Geology doesn’t respect political jurisdictions. And it sprawls across Texas into our two extreme southeast counties. We’ve taken advantage of that and really surpassed our previous peak quite some time ago, primarily driven by the oil and gas industry, which a lot of people in Santa Fe want to destroy.

So, Nevada is one of those few states that has yet to claw its way back and still having that very, very high unemployment rate. My heart aches for my beloved Silver State because I do find it such a fascinating place and I may well live there again. But it is still struggling under that yoke of the aftereffects of our national breakdown over a germ that surely did pose risks to certain groups, but certainly could not justify the kind of draconian nonsense that was adopted.

I was actually in Nevada in 2021. I had a chance to take a brief couple of days and go out there with my sister and brother-in-law. It was still heavy masking. I had a really nasty guy at Treasure Island tell me to put my mask on. Nevada went big, and of course the governor was terrible on lockdown there. And I think it hurt a state that’s so dependent on hospitality and tourism. It just brutalized the state.

But I will say this, I have high hopes for Nevada because it’s really hard to keep that state down. The state has been such a star for so many decades and people flocking there. I know there’s still a lot of Americans. I was raised in Connecticut and puritanical New England. There’s still a lot of deep blue, wealthy, highly educated places that that turn their nose up at Nevada and gambling in Las Vegas. Well, that doesn’t seem to have much of an effect on the people who’ve been flocking there for decades.

Michael Schaus: Even the Oakland mayor called us a gross city in the Mojave when she was talking about was Vegas, but that’s because we’re on track to get two their sports teams.

Dowd Muska: I think a little bit bitterness there.

Michael Schaus: Of course, I’m not happy about how we got the sports teams.

Dowd Muska: No, we aren’t either.

Michael Schaus: But, at the same time, I just I thought it was funny. And it’s strange. It’s strange to see that Nevada hasn’t really bounced back from the lockdowns because it made sense at the time that the lockdowns would terribly, terribly hurt us as a state. I mean, a state is dependent on hospitality as Nevada, if you lock everything down, that’s going to decimate jobs. Which is, obviously, part of the reason why Nevada Policy always argued against it, and I wrote a bunch at the time of opposing those lockdowns.

But it’s strange to see that we haven’t been able to bounce back from that because we have seen record breaking gambling revenue coming in. I think Vegas was one of the very first places for people to take their trips when they realized they could start traveling again after the lockdown.

What do you account that for? Is that just because the broader like when you get away from the strip or you get away from downtown Reno, and the rest of the economy just has not been able to recover? Do you think that’s mostly it?

Dowd Muska: I’ve been reading some pieces. We’re wandering out of policy here because we’re talking about just cultural attitudes and shifts. I shudder to think that this sort of impose any kind of permanent change, but people who were afraid of that germ even though they were relatively young, relatively healthy, and very close to zero risk to them.

There’s this idea that we’re sort of sheltering in place now. People aren’t moving around as they used to. Tourism in various parts of the country is down. We’re living these digital lives and afraid to leave our homes and we’re so enraptured by social media and streaming services.

And I think that could be a big challenge for people because the 40 million people who fly into Southern Nevada to leave a lot of their money behind every year. And lockdown maybe intensified this movement that had gotten rolling even before this germ was ever found.
That thought scares me.

What bothers me a little more about Nevada and I’ve been looking at this recently in our region, is what’s called the Hachman Index of Economic Diversification. One of the issues when I was working in Nevada that continues to this day is having so much of our economy focused on tourism and gambling.

Nevada is not as bad by this metric that’s produced by the University of Utah has actually made many states. Arizona and Utah, not surprisingly, are the most economically diverse states in our eight-state region at 96.4 and 95.6 on 100-point scale. Nevada is at 74.5. That’s not great, but nowhere near as bad as North Dakota, that’s at 35.1.

I think Nevada has been attracting non-casino entrepreneurs and retirees and other people who contribute to the economy, but it still can’t get back to where it was. And maybe it’s something that we as a regional think tank and you guys at Nevada Policy need to explore those causes deeper. Because it’s got all the policy it needs.

You know, other cultural problems are pretty strong as well. I mean, Nevada, like New Mexico, continues to have a pretty serious crime problem. I am really panicked about the condition of young people in this country. If you just look at the metrics, they are just terrible about young folks just not engaging in life and the behavioral health issues. All that was exacerbated severely, by the lockdowns.

I have nephew who is off to college in just a couple of weeks up in Maine. He’s a native of northeasterner. I don’t think he’s ever going to leave the northeast. I’d like to get him out here in the west with me. But he has a black belt in Taekwondo, and he plays in a band, and he’s getting his degree in physics. And he’s going a minor in history. That kind of a dynamic kid we don’t see too many of them anymore. The numbers are very, very scary on that.

I’m a public policy researcher, and I have been for 30 years. We don’t focus enough on some of the pretty significant cultural rot that’s happening in our country. And even when we get great policy outcomes, and certainly school choice in 2023, we’ve had major wins in state after state.

I’m not getting into any kind of religious or any of that kind of stuff or sexual practices. I’m just talking about the lack of meaning and lack of purpose that people seem to have today and self-destructive patterns that seem to manifest themselves with the emptiness, the loneliness epidemic, the fentanyl epidemic. These are signs of a country that’s in a heck of a lot of trouble. And I think we need humility on the policy side. We need to work as hard as we ever worked for good policy and at the same time recognize that on the cultural side, that’s a heck of a challenge, too.

Michael Schaus: I talked about it quite a bit, and I write about it quite a bit. Shameless plug for my substack (creativediscourse.substack.com) you’ll see that I write a lot about it. There’s just a massive amount of change right now. We’re living through a very, very disruptive time, technology, technologically, culturally, and politically. You add all that together, and it’s really hard to make sense of a lot of things.

If you just look at the way that work has changed with the rise of remote work and the way that people are viewing work differently, especially, as you pointed out, the younger generations are viewing it differently, that’s a lot of disruption, a lot of change, happening all at the same time, in very different parts of our daily life.

The good thing about Nevada, but really, I’d say most of the southwest in general, we tend to we have more capability of pivoting I think than a lot of the rest of the nation. You look at New York City, it’s going to be really hard for them to change if people don’t start leasing out those big buildings that are right now sitting empty.

You look at somewhere like Arizona, even New Mexico to a certain extent, Utah, Nevada, we’ve got a ton of space, and we’ve really got the ability and the opportunity to kind move with the times. If more people start moving here to Nevada to work remotely. for example, it will be very easy for us to say what policies can we adopt to facilitate that? Because we’ve got the room and we’ve got the culture and we’ve got this kind of laissez-faire attitude when it comes to lifestyles here.

I think that probably poses well, no matter what the culture really brings in store for the next, say, 10-20 years, assuming, of course, that we keep policy front of mind and make sure that we’ve got policy that allows us benefit from this kind of change.

Dowd Muska: Yeah, I think you’re really onto something there. I have my own Substack, you can find it at dowdmuska.substack.com. Less than a quarter a day for libertarian thoughts on a daily basis. That’s just a little side project of mine.

But when Patrick Brenner, SPPI founder and president, brought me on, his vision was beyond New Mexico, even though he lives here in New Mexico, to our entire region. I’ve thought a lot about that in the months subsequent to coming on. I sort of was a little part-timer type and then he asked me to come on March full time. It’s been strange, but wonderful to come back to full time work because I was doing my own stuff and contracting and projects. And now I have a regular salary. I forgot how nice that can be.

We have a weekly video screencast on Friday afternoons, and I end every show by of course asking people for money, because that’s what you do with a with a tax-deductible nonprofit think tank. I stress how healthy the Southwest is looking at multiple metrics compared to the rest of the country. People want to come here.

I won’t talk about New Mexico and California right now, but most of our states, six of our eight, implement a lot of sound policies. Some better than others, of course.

I say I want to preserve our region as a beacon of opportunity for the rest of the country and other parts of the country. Whether you’re talking about Chicago’s downward spiral, my home area of New England, or California doing what it can to destroy itself, I want to preserve our status as this last best hope of America. People talk about America being the last best hope for the world. Well, what what’s the last best hope for America?

And I think you’re right, there’s something about the landscape here. There’s something about the wide-open spaces. Even though most of us do live in urban urbanized areas. there’s easy access to wide open spaces, something you don’t necessarily have in deeply congested coastal areas. Our job is to really preserve the southwest, the uniqueness and special asset that the Southwest is for our country, while recognizing that we have problems, and we have to focus on some areas. We need to keep what’s good and even enhance what’s good and serve as this blinking light for the rest of the country. Come to Nevada, come to Arizona, come to Texas, and thrive.

I think it’s interesting watching Utah. I talk a lot about Utah. I’m not a member of the LDS church, not a religious person at all, actually. But I talk about the way that you talk combines blue state behaviors, because when you when you tend to look at the states that have the lowest levels of suicide, the lowest levels of domestic violence, lowest levels of drug abuse, that sort of thing, they really are much bluer. They tend to be colder, more northern states. When you look at the states that implement the best policies, meaning limited government, those tend to be the red states.

So, Utah unites blue state behavior with red state policy. And when you look at USA Today’s ranking of the best state to live, in when you look at economic metrics, and the fastest growing states, I think it was the Brookings Institution did a study a number of years ago where they looked at the broadest middle class. They were looking at income cohorts, what percentage of the population as they defined middle class is in the middle class in each state. Utah is number one. I think it outpaced every other all other states in a big way. Utah gets so many things right, because it retains those sort of blue state behaviors, but it also embraces red state public policy.

Utah is probably the best of our region, as much as I love some of other states. And boy, does Utah have a lesson, I think, to teach America. I think one of the great tragedies of New Mexico being in the Four Corners area and I guess just slightly technically bordering Utah is the political establishment (really the entire corporate, religious, nonprofit, media, academia establishment in this one party, one ideology state) is we have Utah just to our Northwest.

We could go to that state and study how we could reduce some of these terrible socio-economic pathologies we have in New Mexico where they’re just off the scale. I mean, New Mexico just consistently ranks at the bottom, you know, across the board for alcohol dependency and drug abuse. When the lefties put out their Kids Count report every year, the condition of children is the worst in New Mexico of the whole country.

We have this bright shining example of people who sort of keep their families together and behave well and have a high workforce participation, all the things that even some people on the left agree are the path out of poverty. And they also have a limited government there. We have it right on our border. And instead of sending emissaries and task forces up into Utah, New Mexico continues to sort of wallow in this dependency model.

Personally, as we were talking before the show, I’m probably I’m headed west. I’m probably going to be moving to Arizona, Southern Utah, or back to Southern Nevada, when I have a family obligation that ends here in a number of years, because I just can’t ethically participate in this state.

We were talking about the changes in America and so many dangerous and sort of scary changes. The political establishment in this state and I think California and maybe some of the coastal states in the East are examples, they’re taking these scary developments in terms of the self-destructiveness of our country. And they’re making policy decisions and implementing policies that enhance these trends. They don’t reverse these trends. And it’s pretty scary.

But I’m right with you on our region of the American Southwest. It’s the best of America. I will be living here the rest of my life. If I’m not living in New Mexico, I will still be living in a southwestern state the rest of my life. I’m never going to shovel snow again. And I’m going to wear shorts every day for the rest of my life.

Michael Schaus: I know I get I get more and more that way the longer I stay here in Southern Nevada. It is interesting, you were talking about Utah, and you were talking about kind of the unique nature of Utah. And I know that it’s almost like a trope at this point, look at California, and look at everybody leaving California.

But it really is worth looking at California, because first of all, it’s an absolutely gorgeous state. It’s got a ton of natural resources. It’s got what should be real cultural advantages. I mean, you’ve got Hollywood there, you’ve got Silicon Valley there, you’ve got kind of the cultural world that used to exist up there in San Francisco. They are a major port for the United States.

California should be a success story. And yet, they’re not. Everybody’s leaving there when they get a chance. And where are they going? They’re going to places like Nevada. They’re going to places like Utah. And I think from a policy perspective, as well as from a cultural perspective, it’s really worth us looking at why is that.

And it’s important, because we’ve got so much going for us in the southwest, that we say, basically, let’s not follow that same example. Let’s make sure that we understand why people are coming here and really preserve those policy aspects.

Dowd Muska: Yeah, I mean, I think you can always find some state. Usually, I use Massachusetts as an example of this, that’s deeply blue. People are not fleeing Massachusetts; they’re sort of retaining their high household income. But Massachusetts is an example.

I grew up in Connecticut, just south of the Massachusetts border. So maybe that’s why it’s more on my radar screen. But Massachusetts is a pretty rare blue state that’s thriving. The trends in states that have adopted the blue state model is pretty scary. You’ve just said what I’ve said about California for the last couple years: Silicon Valley, aerospace, agriculture, the recording industry, television, Hollywood, the ports. I think at this point, California is the sixth or seventh largest economy on planet Earth if it were its own country. And these numbers are really interesting.

I’m very active. It’s something of a challenge to keep track of eight states every day when I go out onto the world wide web and see what’s going on. But our founder knows that you can just point me in that direction, and I just go for it. But I just tweeted out this this very morning in California, I think it was an official state report that the demographers are revising their numbers down.

This was written by I think Dan Walters, a conservative writer for CalMatters, one of those statewide nonprofit websites that are replacing newspapers as they continue to go under. But the state itself is revising its numbers downward in terms of population growth. They’re lopping off the latest projection, they lopped off 3 million fewer people in terms of their estimate of where California will be in 2030.

And if you can destroy a place like California… I listened to, every day, he’s a bit of a bit of a vulgarian and a scatological man, the California comedian Adam Carolla, who grew up in the San Fernando Valley talking about his plans to leave California and how the Golden State truly was golden when he was growing up there in the 60s and 70s. Job opportunities were just so rampant, and crime was low. And homelessness just wasn’t a thing. And of course, he started off in construction before went into comedy.

It’s just sad to listen to his daily lament. I’m not a native Californian. And until two weeks ago, I’d never even been in Southern California. We were at a conference there just outside San Diego. And we stayed in Carlsbad, so I got to see the Pacific Ocean in Southern California for the first time and watch a Pacific sunset.

You just wonder about how ideology in terms of the decision makers and the policymakers- county commissioners and local municipal governments and Sacramento- can just be so imbued with ideology that it just renders them unable to unable to see what’s going on. I mean, California was the Golden State that drew everybody from the hinterlands all through America from the East Coast.

There are so many essays. You can go on reading about Don Draper in Mad Men and what California represented for the future for Don when he would go out and they do an episode, and he was out in California with the widow of the man whose identity he stole. We’d go into admin for hours.

But, you know, this iconic place and what is happening to California? And just to see this Op Ed, to see them revising their estimate there. They’re expecting 3 million fewer people, and I believe they just experienced their first year over a year population decline when the census numbers came out recently. A state that was just this draw, this sort of glowing orb that just brought retirees and investors. The example Corolla uses is (he’s a car guy. I don’t know anything about cars) some car entrepreneur, I think it was the movie they made with Matt Damon and Christian Bale…

Michael Schaus: Oh yeah, Shelby.

Dowd Muska: I think it was him or someone associated with him, in the 50s, or 60s, left Texas, because of all the sort of regulatory burdens and there wasn’t enough forward-thinking workforce. There wasn’t this opportunity culture. He left Texas to go to California to build his business. Corolla just laughs about how the flow is going in the exact opposite direction. Now, if you don’t think policy matters, just look at California the last couple of years, and I think you’ll find you’re wrong.

Michael Schaus: I am also a car guy and I love just the history of cars. There was a reason why the hotrod movement happened in California first and why it was so strong there. And it was because they had that culture of “Sure, go out and try something. Start up a business, great, that’s awesome.” And that has very much changed.

I worked for like six or ten weeks out in San Diego. It is the most beautiful city I think I’ve ever visited in my life. It is fantastic. The weather, the people are awesome out there. They’re wonderful. The only problem with San Diego is that it is in California, and you have to deal with all the California policies.

There’s a lot of stories. My home state of Colorado is turning into the same thing. They’ve gone down the same road the last fifteen years or so. Of course, unlike Nevada, Colorado is dependably blue because the GOP is so incredible incapable out there and Libertarians have mostly left. The people who used to have that laissez-faire attitude in Colorado finally got fed up and they went elsewhere.

Nevada is still at this wonderful moment where we can really go any direction we want. We can become the next Texas or the next Utah or this land of opportunity. Or we can follow California and Colorado. It makes it an exciting time to be doing policy in this region because I think much of the southwest region is in that same position. But it also does kind of make it scary.

So, I love what you guys do. If people want to find out more about Southwest Public Policy Institute, where can they go?

Dowd Muska: Check us online at southwestpolicy.com. Like your host, I have my own Substack. Use a non-Google search engine and it’s dowdmuska on Substack. That’s just a little side project.

The SPPI is a fairly new organization but we’re already having an impact. We’re punching above our weight. Our mission, as I say on our television program, is to speak for our region, try to preserve some of the goodness about our region, try to fix some of the problems (California and New Mexico) in our region, and allow us to be the superstar that we are.

There’s a lot of people who are already to give up on life in America. I think Adam Smith was right. There’s a lot of ruin in a nation and I don’t think we’re there yet. The Southwest is really perfectly positioned to lead our country out of the problems we have. We have a lot of answers here, a lot more answers and solutions than problems. We can name other regions that are dragging the country down.

We’re part of this new movement, as I said, of regional think tanks. It gives us a little more flexibility to work on issues that cut across state lines and we work on a lot of issues that cut across state lines. It’s southwestpolicy.com. Check us out.

Michael Schaus: Well, thank you. Again, Dowd Muska and SPPI. Great organization and a great guy. And he’s right, Nevada is an amazing place to live. And this is one of the reasons I love doing this kind of work in Nevada. If you were lucky enough to live in one of these states (Arizona, Nevada, Utah) that still has so much potential, you’ve got to fight for it. We do have a lot of work we need to do, but don’t lose perspective. Stand back. Look back at where we are and say, “Wow, this is still an amazing place to live.”

Of course, go to NevadaPolicy.org. You can donate there. Make sure to keep helping Nevada Policy do what they do.

You can also go to NevadaPolicy.org/podcast to sign up for the podcast. Not only do they end up in your inbox, but also you can let us know if there’s anyone that you think we ought to have on the program.

Thank you so much for listening today. This has been Free to Offend.

Free to Offend can also be heard on Amazon and iTunes.

 Free to Offend:
A podcast that radically defends free speech by regularly practicing it.

Produced by Nevada Policy Research Institute,
featuring Nevada Policy’s Michael Schaus.