Rebate rebuff

When I got back to town in mid-November after vacation, there were checks waiting for me in the mailbox. The governor’s DMV rebate checks. OK, swell. Now I can load up on a case of Kahlua for the winter. But something didn’t smell right about all this rebating. A few weeks later, it bubbled up to the surface that this giveaway was nothing more than a prime piece of pandering to voters, a grandstanding stunt of the shoddiest kind. It’s an obvious reprise of the national checkfest engineered by President Bush early in his administration, and it’s ultimately approved and executed for the exact same reason—by sending out the cash, you can buy enough votes out there in the zombieplex to insure that the GOP can maintain its electoral headlock for the next couple of elections. Don’t doubt for a second that these handouts are about anything else. My hunch is you could make a very strong case that those checks Bush sent out were critical in buying off enough voters in ’04 to get his iron-headed-yet-somewhat-bewildered ass back into the White House for another term.

And now the story has just come out that Nevada casinos enjoyed a double-digit increase in wins for October and November, and the governor’s rebate checks are getting most of the credit for this little boost. Congratulations to Guinn; he finally figured out how to repay the Big Boys who call the shots and ramrodded his anointed butt into Carson City in the first place. How incredibly farsighted and economically strategic to take a $300 million surplus and basically flush it down the dumper, with most of that cash being injected directly into the vaults of Steve Wynn, Kirk Kerkorian, Don Carano, etc. You know, guys who are just scraping by. So aloha, 300 million bucks. We barely knew ye.

Meanwhile, I can’t help but dare to wonder what real good could have been accomplished with that cash, which is, after all, not an insignificant sum of money. Even in this jaded and cynical time, when we’ve become fairly numb to fantastically large numbers, 300 mill still qualifies as serious dough. What if Guinn and Company had used that 300 million to help, say, Nevadans who have health issues but are uninsured and unable to afford medical services? Could that money have been used to seed an actual Nevada State Health Insurance plan?

Oh, I know that would have been insanely difficult to do, impossible to administer and an unbearably socialist idea. But I also know that a lot of Nevadans who are in real trouble right now could have greatly benefited from even a one-time special medical fund. That money could have helped out 60,000 Nevadans, for example, if you allotted $5,000 of medical help for each. Too generous? How about 120,000 Nevadans at $2,500 per? Ultimately, what would have been more impressive to you—making a noble attempt to provide some real medical aid for those who are desperate for it or providing a completely predictable instant windfall for casinos, liquor stores, bordellos and crank dealers?