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Many Mini-Muth’s Truths for Gipper’s B-Day

Today would have been Ronald Reagan’s 100th birthday, and the nation, despite 22 years of efforts to undo his legacy by Republicans and Democrats alike, is still better off today for his presidency.

It’s also Super Bowl Sunday, and I’m getting ready to take the kids over to the Thomas & Mack to watch it on the big screen, as well as catch the “Lingerie Bowl VIII” halftime show live.

Heading out for the tailgate party and Festival Village in just a few minutes, but I got up early enough this morning to catch up on a lot of “old” news for what amounts to pretty much a double-issue of Nevada News & Views on such an historic and exciting day in America and American history.

Go Packers! Win this one for the Gipper.

MINI-MUTH’S TRUTHS
As you may recall, it was a “tabloid” that broke the stained dress story leading to President Bill Clinton’s impeachment. So when the Enquirer reports that after just six months of marriage, Chelsea Clinton “regrets now that she ever married Marc (Mezvinsky)” and “has asked her mother and dad if they could help her get an annulment,” don’t be surprised if it turns out to be true.

So a state senator from Brooklyn, NY, wants to make it illegal to talk on a cell phone or listen to an iPod while crossing a city street. Meanwhile, another state senator in Arkansas “wants to ban pedestrians from wearing headphones in both ears on or near a roadway. Any bets on which nanny-state boneheaded Nevada legislator will burp up a similarly stupid proposal here?

Get this! After waiving the “hefty fee” required by the government to obtain certain liquor licenses for private businesses to open job-creating, tax revenue-producing establishments in a certain section of downtown Las Vegas, two new nightspots have opened, with more on the way! Who’d a thunk it? Who ever would have thought that high government fees and taxes were an impediment to opening and expanding private businesses? Who would have ever guessed that when it came to economic development, government was the problem, not the solution.

Conservatives, of course.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported recently that “Vladimir Manasewitsch, an Ober Elementary School parent, believes people are willing to pay higher taxes to help schools.” Not sure what planet Vlad was on last October, but Gov. Brian Sandoval got a pretty clear mandate from “the people” not to raise taxes. That said, there’s absolutely nothing whatsoever keeping Mr. Manasewitsch from kicking in a little extra of his own dough to Nevada’s voluntary “Tax Me More Fund.” Or does he only believe OTHER people should pay more, not himself?

No one complains louder or with more histrionics than defenders of what passes for Nevada’s system of higher education, where apparently it’s actually possible to attend a “university” that offers remedial courses in math and English. Yet we’re supposed to take these folks seriously? Seriously?

But a recent LVRJ editorial about a study of college campuses really pounds a nail in the higher ed coffin. It notes that “roughly half of American undergraduates show no gains in analytic reasoning, writing and critical thinking skills by the end of their sophomore year;” that “Today’s students spend 50 percent less time studying than the students of decades past;” and “Half of students said they never took a class that required them to write more than 20 pages in a semester, and a third never took a course that required them to read more than 40 pages per week.”

Oh, yeah. Raise my taxes to continue funding THAT! Not.

Which Nevada Democrat has introduced a bill requiring folks who write grants for non-profit organizations such as the American Heart Association and the Kidney Foundation to be regulated by the state, pay a new registration fee, as well as post a security deposit with the Consumer Affairs Division in addition to the all the other regular licensing fees they already pay? That would be…none. It’s not a Democrat. The sponsor of the sill, SB 99, is….

Republican state Sen. Joe Hardy. Good grief.

At least one prominent Democrat elected official has embraced the notion of vouchers: Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak, who maintained last week that “If we used vouchers, we would negotiate the best prices” for providing a certain government service.

Unfortunately, the government service he was talking about wasn’t education. The Commish was talking about giving economically disadvantaged citizens vouchers to use at private hospitals in the county instead of the government continuing to run its own hospital, UMC, which is projected to chalk up operating deficits of $10 million per year.

Still, it’s the concept that counts. If Democrats such as Commissioner Sisolak begin embracing the notion that government’s responsibility in many areas is to provide the FUNDING for certain services from private businesses, not necessarily actually providing the service ITSELF – like the way we do with food stamps and private grocery stores – it’s not such a big leap to applying that concept to education.

Oh, and by the way, the problems at UMC are generally two-fold: personnel costs are too high and perceived quality of service is too low. Just like the public schools. Common thread between the two: Labor unions. The SEIU runs this public hospital…and is running it in the red and into the ground. Just like what the teachers union has been doing to our public schools. Public employee unions suck. They ought to be banned.

Which reminds me. Clark County firefighter union boss Ryan Beaman inked an op/ed for the LVRJ a week ago in which he claimed that “a small number of firefighters” had “repeatedly misused sick leave for personal gain.” Beaman also claimed that “County Commissioner Steve Sisolak and county administrators knew…a few employees were misusing sick leave and never notified anyone in the union there was an issue. Twice more in the op/ed Beaman referred to “a few employees” and “a small percentage” who abused taxpayers.

But as LVRJ columnist Jane Ann Morrison noted this week, the union was apprised of concerns about sick leave abuse almost a year ago, when arbitration began. In addition, she notes that “Nearly 40 percent of the firefighters took more than a month of sick leave in 2009.” Hello? Forty percent is NOT a “small percentage” or “small number.”

I don’t call him Lyin’ Ryan for nothing.

Public education is the objective; government-run public schools are a means. Publicly-funded vouchers for use in private schools would be another means to provide public education. This concept is lost on many Democrats and liberals, so those of you who understand it will need to explain it to them. Speak slooooow-ly.

With that in mind, there’s a bill (SJR1) already introduced which “Proposes to amend the Nevada Constitution to allow the Legislature to authorize the operation of a state lottery for the support of public education.” The Legislative digest explains that the bill would “allow the Legislature to authorize the operation of a state lottery to benefit K-12 education.”

Note, the bill doesn’t say public SCHOOLS; it stipulates public EDUCATION.

Therefore, I propose a simple amendment to the proposed wording thusly: “(T)he Legislature shall, by law, (2) Provide for the disbursement of all money from the proceeds of the lottery, less expenses directly related to the operation of the lottery, to the school districts in this State in a fair and equitable manner for the sole purpose of establishing a program for private school vouchers.”

Because these would be lottery funds and not government funding, this program would not violate Nevada’s “Blaine amendment” which prohibits direct government funding to religious schools. And for every student who opts to use a “lottery voucher” instead of going to a government-run public school, that’s one less student draining money from the general fund, thus lowering the overall cost of running the government while still providing K-12 public EDUCATION.

I’ve never been a big lottery fan in the past, but this idea could potentially change my mind. Let’s do it…for the children!

Meanwhile, I think I might have found a small opening that could lead to some common ground with LVRJ columnist Geoff Schumacher, generally of a liberal-leaning disposition.

When it comes to government assistance and services, my general position is that government’s role should be limited to helping fellow citizens who, through no fault of their own, are unable to help themselves. Not unwilling; unable. For his part, Geoff suggested in a recent column that government should provide a safety net for, at a minimum, four groups of high-priority citizens: children, the mentally ill, seniors and war veterans.

On that, I agree. Generally. But the devil is in the details. Geoff is concerned, for example, with “youngsters victimized or disadvantaged by circumstances beyond their control.” He writes that giving such kids “a reasonable chance to succeed in life by providing a good education” is an area where “some government intervention is justified.”

Again, I agree. But it’s the manner of intervention that separates us. I suspect Geoff’s position is that we need to give more money to the already failed public schools in minority and economically disadvantaged neighborhoods, such as Las Vegas’ Westside. I prefer to try empowering parents and guardians in minority and economically disadvantaged neighborhoods to choose the schools they think are best for their children by giving them school vouchers.

So you see, it’s not necessarily that the Left and the Right disagree on the objective, but on the means of achieving it. I’d be happy to entertain the possibility of increasing some funding for inner city schools if he’d be happy to entertain giving parents of those schools an opt-out option, along with the funding necessary to make the option possible.

Maybe Geoff and I need to go have a beer and work this out.

A high school student who had been target shooting the night before, showed up at school the next day with his rifle still locked in his trunk. He advised school administrators – who turned around and dropped a dime on the lad who was then busted and finger-printed for possession of a dangerous weapon on school property.

Those dumbass school administrators ought to be flogged! This poor kid posed no danger to the school or anyone inside it. He tried to do the right thing by advising school officials that he had forgotten to take the gun out of his trunk before coming to school. And instead of telling the kid to simply take the gun home and come back, they bust him and throw him in the Clark County Detention Center?

That people with this shallow of a level of common sense, not to mention compassion, are actually running our public schools really is all you need to know to know why our public schools stink like a Las Vegas trashcan of dead fish in July.

The Las Vegas Sun published an interview with Gov. Brian Sandoval today in which a recurring question was asked about businesses supposedly not sharing in the sacrifice needed to pull Nevada out of its economic recession. To which the governor responded ever-so-accurately: “They are doing their fair share. They’re keeping people employed; they’re doing the best they can. At the end of the day, that’s what’s most important – keeping people employed.”

Amen. Why does the Left continue to despise and denigrate those who create jobs so that people can pay taxes to fund all the wonderful things the Left thinks the government should do? Talk about trying to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs.

Sen. Mike McGinness told the Las Vegas Sun this week that he believes “the majority of the (Republican) caucus is behind the governor on the budget and his pledge not to raise taxes.” In addition, Sen. McGinness issued a letter of support earlier in the week declaring that “Legislative Republicans…maintain a firm commitment to sustaining any Governor’s veto of any bill that…raises taxes.”

Sounds good, but…

First, a “majority” of Republicans in the state Senate comes to six…and you need eight Republicans to block any tax hikes from getting the 2/3 super-majority the Democrats need. And we already know that Dean Rhoads is off the reservation. Secondly, call me paranoid, but Sen. McGinness didn’t say he was committed to blocking any tax hikes, but in sustaining a gubernatorial veto. You can’t help but wonder why he would word his letter that way. Are some Republicans planning to have their cake and eat it too by voting for tax hikes but not voting to override the governor’s veto?

A story by LV Sun reporter David Schwartz today lays out a possible session-ending scenario in which Democrats get enough GOP votes to pass tax hikes over Gov. Brian Sandoval’s veto. Meanwhile the Sun editorialized today that “There has been some talk of a compromise plan that would raise some taxes.” And columnist Jon Ralston wrote today about “A difficult, if not impossible, pathway to the 28 and 14 votes needed to pass a tax (hike) package.”

Why is all this tax hike talk continuing despite Gov. Sandoval’s vow not to balance the state’s budget with tax or fee increases? Because Democrats only need three Republican votes to pass a tax hike in the Senate and they already have one: Dean Rhoads. Republicans need eight committed GOP votes supporting Gov. Sandoval and his position of no-new-taxes, but they only have six so far (McGinness, Cegavske, Brower, Roberson, Gustavson and Halseth).

Until Senate Republicans get at least two more public commitments of support for Gov. Sandoval on this tax issue, the tax-hike chatter on the Left will continue and the pressure to raise taxes instead of cutting spending will only get more intense as the session heats up.

And make no mistake, if the Legislature raises taxes this session, it will be a Republican tax hike, because Republicans have complete and total power to block any and all efforts to raise taxes. If only they knew how to use it.

If museums are so valuable and popular with the public, and the government doesn’t have enough money to run them, then why not contract their operations out to private businesses instead of shutting them down? Inquiring minds wanna know.

NATIONAL NEWS & VIEWS

From the Department of Methinks Thou Doth Protest Too Much comes this week’s revelation in the Commercial Appeal in Memphis, Tennessee, that “FedEx and its pilot union have reached tentative agreement on a short-term labor contract in record time.”

The irony here is that FedEx has waged a multi-million dollar lobbying campaign in the nation’s capital trying to preserve a loophole in federal labor law that allows it to treat its drivers as if they are pilots. At the heart of the FedEx’s usually disingenuous campaign was the claim that closing the loophole would result in their drivers joining a union, and that if their drivers formed a union FedEx would no longer be able to operate.

The fallacy of that argument, delivered to Congress over the last two years, was obvious to objective observers. That FedEx was so easily and quickly able to work with the labor union they already have in their midst on a new contract this week should put the argument to rest once and for all for everyone else, too.

FAMOUS LAST WORDS
“If (Sen. John) Ensign truly cared about his family or the Senate or the Republican Party he would not even be contemplating re-election… Is he so narcissistic that he believes the country can’t live without him?” – Las Vegas Sun columnist Jon Ralston

“Public employee unions have become the Democratic Party’s biggest donors and most powerful constituency. Indeed, government unions all but run the party.” – Las Vegas Review-Journal editorial

“(Clark County) Firefighters head into the next contract negotiation with little credibility and little respect from a public outraged by the behavior of a too large minority. . . . The public thinks this (sick leave abuse) is a disgrace. The public is right.” – Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist Jane Ann Morrison

“Tax increases are the last thing that struggling businesses and struggling individuals need.” – Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval

“Republican minorities in the (Nevada state) Senate and Assembly…are large enough to block a tax increase if they remain united.” – Las Vegas Sun

“(Nevada state Sen. Ben) Kieckhefer is considered a moderate and potentially one of three GOP senators who could help (Democrat Senate Majority Leader Steven) Horsford get the 14 votes needed for a tax increase.” – Ben Spillman of the Las Vegas Review-Journal

“(T)he hectoring horde seems to have forgotten something: (Nevada Gov. Brian) Sandoval ran as a conservative Republican and now proposes to govern as one. What did everyone expect?” – Las Vegas Sun columnist Jon Ralston

“Since 1995 that average mathematics score for fourth-graders jumped 11 points. At this rate we catch up with Singapore in a little over 80 years, assuming they don’t improve.” – Norman R. Augustine, retired CEO of Lockheed Martin

“Many high-performing educations systems, especially in Asia, have substantially larger classes than the United States.” – Arne Duncan, Obama’s secretary of education

“The NAS (National Academy of Sciences) report says that in New York, the percentage of eighth-graders reaching the state’s proficiency standard increased dramatically, from 59 percent to 80 percent, between 2007 and 2009. Yet the eighth-graders’ scores on a national match test ‘remained virtually unchanged.’ Conclusion? The state defined proficiency down.” – Columnist George Will

“Nationally, over the last 30 years we have more than doubled the amount of money we’re spending per student on education and the results have only gotten worse. . . .We’re spending billions of dollars nationally for master’s degrees in education for teachers. There’s no correlation between having a master’s degree in education and student gains. So why would we pour money down there?” – School reform champion Michelle Rhee of Students First, Las Vegas Sun, 2/3/11