I really do not think some people realize how bad the economy has gotten over the last several months. The U.S. currently has an unemployment rate of 9.5% (over 11% in Nevada) and people continue to be laid off. California is over twenty billion dollars in debt and here in Nevada we are several hundred million dollars in debt. The unemployment rate here has gone up by two percent in just a few months. We are on our way to having 200,000 unemployed Nevadan’s. In some states you can multiply these numbers by two. The question is how much higher will the unemployment rate go? A few months ago, we were told that the U.S. unemployment rate would stop somewhere around 8.5 percent, but it keeps going up. Are there things we can do in the future to prevent this from happening again?
The situation in the state of Nevada will probably not get better for some time. Now that our legislature has finished its session, a whole bunch of new laws have gone into effect. First, our sales tax has risen by 0.35% to 8.1%. Next, payroll taxes in several businesses are rising. Third, the minimum wage has gone up to $7.55 an hour. Fifth, our university system has taken a 14% overall cut and millions have been cut from the K-12 area. Finally, spending at casinos has been going down between 15-20% every month for the last several months. Oh yes, and about half of Nevada’s economy is based on tourism. So what do we make of these facts? Better yet, what can we learn from them? Well, you have companies that are paying a higher minimum wage and a higher payroll tax, our education system is going down the tubes, and billions upon billions of dollars were spent on constructing casino after casino even though our state is poor. The biggest lesson we can learn from Nevada is to not have over half of our revenue generated from tourism. You have to have backup sources of income. And of course, the people that run our government have to know how to spend money and put it where it’s needed most. Raising taxes is not always the answer. We need to have more politicians who know how to spend money and don’t just throw it to the dogs. Put the money where it is needed and work with what you have.
Now, let’s examine two states that have some of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation. North Dakota has an unemployment rate of 4.4% and Nebraska has an unemployment rate of 4.4% as well. Wow, what would we give to have the United States rate that low again? Why is it that their unemployment rates are so low and others, like Nevada, are so high? Oh yes, because our economy is almost entirely based on tourism and construction. Nebraska’s and North Dakota’s economies, on the other hand, are largely based on agriculture. Many people of this area are farmers or do something that is related to agriculture. We just do not have that in Nevada. Of course, the biggest reason is that we are the driest state in the nation. Therefore, there is not a big chance for massive development of agriculture in Nevada. So what can Nevada and the other states that base their economy largely on tourism do to strengthen their economy and put more people to work? Should we spend billions of dollars more on stupid over the top hotels and attractions? No, we shouldn’t. We should be taking more of that money and spending it on developing renewable energy sources and funding educational programs which can train people to develop these renewable energy facilities. That way, these people can get jobs. If you’re going to spend money, spend it on something that will benefit everyone in the future. There has to be a balance. We all know developing renewable energy, such as solar power, is not cheap. However, it will provide a much better return in the future than some five star hotel/casino.
Before we can even consider massive development of renewable energy technologies, we need to create a workface that is capable of running them. This means that we need to fund educational programs and not cut them. Now the question is where would the money for this tremendous plan come from? I am not for tax increases or out of control spending, but since we are now in that situation, we should be setting aside a portion of the revenue generated from that tax and put it into a national fund for renewable energy development. Once we have enough money to build these facilities, people can be put to work. There would always be a need for people to run these facilities and develop new technologies. I am a strong proponent of growth and business development, but I am not for unsustainable and unnecessary development.
I am not oblivious to the fact that renewable energy will never be able to provide all of the power that people in this country or world need. While I am an environmentalist, I am not a tree hugger. I am willing to come to a compromise with both sides of the spectrum. I have researched the controversy over digging for oil in the National Arctic Wildlife Refuge in Alaska and I am for it. Do I think we should go in and completely destroy it? Not at all. But the fact of the matter is that we will always need oil, now matter how much green technology we create. It’s just a fact of life. Digging for oil means that the U.S. will have its own supply and we will not have to pay so much money to the Arab countries.
People have to try to keep their minds open to all options. Democrats and Republicans alike have good ideas and bad ideas, but this is where compromising comes in. Am I for high taxes? Do I want loads of cash spent on stupid, frivolous things? Do I want the environment destroyed? Obviously, the answers to these questions are no. Sometimes, though, you have to meet someone down the middle of the road instead of meeting at the far left or far right.
United States Department of Labor, http://www.bls.gov/news.release/laus.nr0.htm