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THE INFORMATION: City Journal

Money Matters

Scott Dickensheets

"We're not poor but that's a chunk of money." In a week filled with financial concerns, it's hard to remember precisely who said that, or why. Is it something I muttered at the gas pump or in the back-to-school aisle ("Are you sure the P.E. teacher specified $125 sneakers?") or a stray soundbite from the teacher-pay issue? Overheard at a mortgage office or the Rod Stewart trial? That's Vegas for you—it lets everyone complain about how much they don't have.


For instance, utility customers. Perhaps jealous of the attention oil companies are getting for high gasoline prices, Southwest Gas and Nevada Power are asking to raise their rates, and you know what that means: We're mere seconds away from an alarming mention of seniors on fixed incomes. Count down with me: Five ... four ...


The utilities say rising supply costs are to blame, and, according to the R-J, the gas hike will be either 2.8 percent or 13.4 percent, which (... three ... two ...) as far as some ratepayers are concerned, puts the state in the position of approving a picketpocketing or a mugging.


... one ...


"[For] those of us on fixed incomes, what's the alternative?," one senior asked at a public meeting on the issue. Um, freezing so some CEO can have his perks?


"I'm not freezing so some CEO can have his perks," another senior piped up. Lady, you've got a lot to learn about living in America.


There are more than 800 job categories listed in the wage survey released last week by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and it's safe to say that most of them involved fixed incomes—it's hard to imagine, say, a teacher having much financial flexibility. Although it certainly helps to not live in Las Vegas. The morning paper interviewed a teacher from Michigan who tried to get a job here, only to stop trying when she learned what she'd make: $36,000. This is what she told the R-J she makes in Michigan: $80,000.


Hmm: making $80,000 vs. having to live in Michigan ... $80,000, Michigan ... Too close to call. In another case cited by the paper, a teacher rejected in Clark County because she didn't have proper licensing credentials got a job in Bakersfield. Pay: $60,000-plus. That would sting more except Bakersfield sounds worse than Michigan.


According to the Labor Stats people, Nevada leads the nation in what we pay clerics ($51,000), school bus drivers ($31,000) and skin-care specialists ($48,000). Oddly, we bring up the rear in pay for gaming dealers—a median income of, get this, $13,000. That it's a clearly inaccurate figure will surely not stop the R-J op-edsters from editorializing that teachers (Nevada median: $40,000) should pipe down, given their wealth relative to dealers.


By the way, the opening quote was from Jim Rogers, citing the cost of bankrolling a campaign as one reason he won't run for governor. Here's a man clearly planning ahead for those high utility rates.








Let's Do the Math!



+2 Harry Reid makes first public appearance since mini-stroke. Doctor says: "not to worry about it."



+1 Las Vegas finally cracks ranks of Nielsen's top 50 markets. Now America will take this city seriously.



+2 State panel expedites deal to place mentally ill patients in facilities other than hospital emergency rooms.



-1 School zones back in effect.


Final Score
+4








Quote We Couldn't Fit In Elsewhere This Week



"The survey is a joke to the public and people have been pretty apathetic with it."



— John Jasonek, Clark County Education Association, on school district's online superintendent poll.








Milestones We'd Like to Have Seen Acknowledged in the City's Centennial Quilt



July 1975


The last jar of Howard Hughes' urine is disposed of



Scott Dickensheets is a Weekly writer at large. Give him crap (or cake) at
dickens@gmgvegas.com.







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