Sometimes it seems necessary to state the obvious. People, particularly elected people, appear unable to see beyond their own treehouse to consider the health of the forest. It’s a problem humanity has had since we first came to ground. And even the finger-shaking of a massive weekly newspaper isn’t likely to change the behavior of the human race, not even that within its enormous distribution area.
Let’s use the glacier-covered side streets of Reno, Nevada, as an example. Years ago in the late ’80s, when the Reno City Council decided to get rid of the city’s snow removal equipment, members claimed to have a plan to keep citizens safe and not overly inconvenienced. Rather than clean off the bermed and dangerous sidestreets (or even for that matter, the 4-foot-high melting piles of ice in driving lanes on Virginia Street), members of the City Council act as though the streets of Reno were never maintained. Three weeks after a medium-sized snow fall, the streets are actually more dangerous because the average driver does not expect to find several tons of iceberg unmarked in a 30 mph traffic zone.
So here’s the obvious point: City Council members may have saved a few tax dollars by ignoring their responsibility to plan for eventualities, like barely above average snowfalls, but make no mistake—you the citizen are paying for their incompetence. Not every citizen gets to pay, but you citizens who own a car that had the alignment knocked out by the rutted, icy streets will get to pay higher tire costs, gas costs and repair bills. There are still many public areas covered in ice, and there are many of us who hit the bricks when those public officials left the walks untended. We’ll get to pay our own medical bills. Pity any of the seniors who may have broken a hip because of the Reno City Council’s ineptitude.
Take a look around. This is the new reality, and the new reality sucks. Take a few steps farther back from the forest. It’s widely recognized that Nevada’s population is declining, at least for the short term. Shouldn’t state officials have recognized what we, the ignorant voters, recognized years ago? Our tax system is obsolete. Certain voices in the desert have been saying for years that we needed to end our dependence on gambling and sales taxes and create a tax system in which people pay for services they receive. That means business needs to pay its share. Instead of building a rational tax structure last legislature, Assembly and Senate members chose to put the decisions off—until after a large percentage have retired. In other words, the ignorant and less experienced will make the decisions.
Now, let’s take a step way back from the forest—in fact, we’ll stand on the moon. Instead of seeing a quickly warming planet, Nevada officials from dog catcher to Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate have elected not to take the necessary steps to make us a clean-energy producing and exporting state. They’ve left the polluters unmolested by not reforming the General Mining Act of 1872, but have barely taken baby steps to help establish a new, foresightful green economy in a state that’s struggling to provide basic services—like snow removal.
Come on, you incumbents. You’ll soon be asking for our votes, but if you haven’t acted in the best interests of Nevadans—present and future—voters are going to pack your bags for you.