Nevada’s next outrageous industry

I was sitting outside in a T-shirt on the Saturday before the Stupor Bowl.

It wasn’t a cashmere T-shirt or a wool T-shirt. It was an old cotton T-shirt, thin and flimsy. It was warm out there on the patio. And then it got downright hot. One layer of clothing on a January afternoon in Reno, Nevada? And it’s one layer too much? I mean, when January turns out to be a fabulous month for tennis around here, what looms for August? (All you science-haters out there, don’t worry. I’m not gonna hold forth about global warming. I have a feeling all the poor slobs back east chipping their way out of this winter’s ice storms might have a counterpoint to make about such a statement).

Economically speaking, it sure ain’t tennis weather in America. This year looks about as financially appealing as 174 miles of washboard road—and you’re towing a trailer. But, in the end, we’ll be OK.

Why? Because, to put it very simply, the United States itself is too big to fail. The Chinese, the Japanese, the Germans, et. al., cannot let us go down. We owe ’em too much money!

OK, so that’s solved. What about Nevada? This state will need a whole lot of bake sales pretty soon if we don’t get a hefty bailout from somebody. Prediction—that bailout ain’t gonna come from tourists.

Economic doldrums mean increased gambling action for all those Native American casinos that are within spitting distance of Sacramento, Fresno and San Diego. Thousands and thousands of ‘Fornians will this year opt to get their slot jollies close to home.

For a state that thrives on room taxes the way we do, that ain’t good.

So maybe it’s time we tap into a little of that old-fashioned Nevada boldness. The same desperate derring-do that forced us in the early 20th century to scandalously liberalize our divorce laws and then, even more scandalously, legalize gambling. Nevada became the black sheep of the nation with those controversial moves, but we also manufactured a meal ticket that would serve us nicely for a few decades.

Dealing with the derision of America was easily do-able when buffered by all the dollars coming in from the gamblers and adulterers.

Well, our meal ticket is obviously played out. Gambling is just about everywhere now outside of Salt Lake City, and divorce is available via fill-in-the-blank forms on the Internet. So is there a new “scandal” economy out there, primed for an entity of some sort to create and exploit? If so, is Nevada that entity?

I’d say there is. And we aren’t. More next week …