Gross proceedings

OK, this is one of those editorials that isn’t really a call to action; it’s a call to think.

The Reno News & Review recently received a letter to the editor that said, in part, “Nevada ranks among the worst in unemployment rates of all the states, our education scores and system are the worst in the nation, and we have some of the highest rates of illegal immigration! Could a possible reason for our terrible education scores be that the system is inundated with children of illegal immigrants?”

In that same issue, Deidre Pike in her View from the Fray column made the case that the reason our children get among the worst educations in the country is because the state pays for the worst education in the country by not contributing enough to education.

So, let’s talk in very broad terms. Again, this is not a new concept, just a slightly different way of looking at ideas.

Our state’s tax economy is based on the idea that state legislators want Nevadans to pay as few taxes as possible. Essentially, we—through the legislators we choose—like the idea that people from out of state pay our taxes for us. That’s why our tax structure is heavily based on tourism (room taxes, gaming taxes, etc.) and sales taxes—which, by the way, causes periodic budget crises when the economy takes a downturn.

To further focus the argument, Nevadans don’t even want out-of-state—or even foreign—businesses to carry much responsibility. That’s why we have among the lowest corporate-license fees in the nation; that’s why out-of-state companies are given a liability shield against having to protect their investors; that’s why foreign-owned mining companies are able to remove resources like gold, gaining record profits in the process. And legislators have not hiked their taxes since 1864 and have allowed innumerable exceptions for payment, as Dennis Myers outlined in his story, “A hard place” (RN&R, April 14).

We want businesses to make as much profit as possible, and we want visiting individuals to pay the freight.

And yet, certain people say we want to solve the problem of illegal immigrants taking jobs from Nevadans and diminishing our education system. (And by the way, we’re not accepting the argument that illegal immigration has any but the most miniscule effect on our schools.)

Does this strike anyone as a conflict of interest?

Who works for lower wages, doing jobs others don’t want to do, thus undercutting legal Nevadans from getting employment but increasing corporate profits? Illegal immigrants. What are the primary taxes illegal immigrants pay in Nevada? Sales taxes.

The argument could be made that if the illegal immigrants were run out of the state, honest-to-goodness Nevadans would get those jobs and thus balance out the sales taxes lost. But again, corporate profits go down because legal workers insist on higher wages, and there would be fewer people working, meaning less total available money to be spent on cars, clothing and cocktails.

There is only one group that can begin to compete with illegal aliens to lower the bar for wages: the undereducated.

Nevada increases its tax base by not solving the illegal alien “crisis.” Nevada increases corporate profits by poorly educating our children. Our education system isn’t insufficient because of illegal immigration. Our education system is as good as it is because of illegal immigration.

Maybe it’s time for legislators to fix this apparent conflict by coming up with a sane and stable tax structure based on real things—like resources and real estate.