Week in Review: Dominoes

Andy Matthews

Every week, NPRI President Andy Matthews writes a column for NPRI's week-in-review email. If you are not getting our emails, which contain our latest commentaries and news stories, you can sign up here to receive them.


We all know the saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words.”

But this week, at NPRI’s Las Vegas office, we created a picture worth a whole lot more than that.

You’ve probably seen some of the widespread coverage of this already, but on Tuesday, we released a new study on the impact the proposed margin tax would have on Nevada’s economy. To illustrate that impact, we set up, and then toppled, 3,610 dominoes — one for each job the study finds will be destroyed if voters pass the margin tax this November.

Problems with this tax proposal run deep, but even a cursory review reveals why it would be so devastating. If it passes (it’s Question 3 on the ballot), it would result in a new, 2 percent tax levied on the revenue of Nevada businesses that gross more than $1 million a year. A million bucks may sound like a lot, but that breaks down to just $2,739.73 a day in sales, which means it would encompass most mom-and-pop restaurants, grocery stores, gas stations, etc. And because it’s a tax on revenue, and not on profit, struggling businesses — and even those already losing money — would be forced to pay it.

That’s not all. The study also finds that the margin tax would decrease Nevadans’ real disposable income by $240 million in its first year (and by more in future years), while investment would drop by more than $7 million annually.

These numbers are important. But what matters far more is what they stand for. Each of those 3,610 dominoes we knocked down this week represents the job of a member of our community that will be wiped out if the margin tax goes into effect. That number could include your job, or that of someone you know. Just think about the stress and hardship you’d endure if, just like that, your job were to suddenly vanish.

And for what? To throw more money at a public education system that is failing not because of insufficient funding, but because of systemic problems that can only be solved through structural reform? A job-killing tax that would do nothing to accomplish its purported goal? Talk about a lose-lose.

You and I know all this, of course. Our challenge is to get that message out, and to help citizens all across our state understand the real-life effects the margin tax would have on themselves, and on their neighbors, friends and family. The release of our new study is a crucial part of that effort, but we also knew that creating a powerful visual would generate attention and interest on a much grander scale.

And so it did. Our domino spectacle earned an abundance of media coverage, not just from almost all of the Las Vegas media, but also from multiple TV stations in Reno. Take a look over at the right column of this bulletin for a more comprehensive overview, but I thought this story from Las Vegas’ Channel 8 and this one from the Las Vegas Review-Journal (which also ran the story as the lead in Wednesday’s hard-copy Nevada section) captured the events particularly well.

It’s great to see our work being disseminated so broadly. (I have to admit, Tuesday evening brought me a good deal of satisfaction, as I sat out on my back patio, enjoying a cigar and a scotch while playing my acoustic guitar and checking out all the coverage online.) It’s invigorating to know that in the past few days, hundreds of thousands of voters have been exposed to the crucial findings of our study, many of them no doubt learning of the dangers of the margin tax for the very first time.

But what happened this week marks the beginning of our task, not the end.

Between now and November, our job — yours and mine — is to continue to reach as many Nevadans as possible with the truth about what the margin tax would mean for our state.

I know you’re up to it. And I look forward to fighting alongside you in the weeks and months ahead.

Thanks for reading, and I hope to see you at one of next week’s Friedman Legacy Day luncheons.

Andy Matthews
NPRI President

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