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We’re So Bad, We’re Good

A tricky little argument embracing our state’s ills

Joshua Longobardy

The good folks up in Reno were quick to react, airing on January 9th a half-hour documentary on every local television station, breaking the news to viewers that crystal meth is a perilous drug. So protect your children, the documentary propounded, because meth is a boundless epidemic.

Public service announcements featuring the new governor had been televised in the days prior to the documentary's mass airing; and next week, the Washoe County Sc hool District will play an anti-meth video for its middle- and high-school students during class.

Can't blame them, though, the north: that's just how they are. Always freaking out. And a complete contrast from Southern Nevadans, who have accepted the ignominious marks our state has compiled over the past decade without either cavil or commotion, as if they anticipated each new social survey to rank Nevada last among its peers.

In fact, if Nevada were to receive a report card, it would look something like this:







































   ;

SUBJECT
  
   ;

ACCORDING TO
   ;
   ;

SCORE
   ;
   ;

NATIONAL RANK
   ;
Dropout Rate Kids Count National Survey 16 out of every 100 students Next to last (2002)
Divorces National Center for Health Statistics 15 out of every 1,000 adults Last (2003)
Teen Pregnancy Guttmacher Insititute in New York 113 out of every 1,000 girls Last (2006)
Homeless Percent of Population National Alliance to End Homelessness 68 out of every 10,000 citizens Last (2006)
Meanest National Coalition for the Homeless “Most discriminatory” Last (2004)

But be slow to judge.

School is not for everyone. Moreover, education can be harvested from a variety of other fields. It was Mark Twain, the great American novelist and Virginia City journalist, and a veteran of a sixth-grade education, who said, "I have never let schooling interfere with my education." And if more than three-quarters of the students in our nation's universities view education as a means to an end, money, as most polls suggest, then what does it matter if the dealer at the Wynn, making some $90,000 a year, dropped out of Valley High School?

More divorces just means more available singles in both Reno and Las Vegas. Which means a more crowded, flirtatious atmosphere at local bars and hangouts. Which, of course, means revenue and a much better chance to get laid on any given night.

Teen pregnancy has caught a bad rap in the past half-century. No more than two generations ago, women began leavening the bread in their maternal ovens at 14, 15, 16 years old, and no one was up in arms about it. And that's because they recognized nature's authority—not society's—in deciding when a woman was ready to carry a child.

And if you buy that, then the high percentage of homeless in Las Vegas should be celebrated, too, for not only does it demonstrate this city's willingness to stockpile our poorer brethren, but it's also a lot better than possessing the highest percentage of rich people, whose shit, we all know, stinks just as bad if not worse than the poor's. And when did being mean start to carry a bad connotation? Whatever happened to the good ol' days of Dirty Harry, paddling misbehaving students' behinds, and tough love? If Las Vegas were a little less mean—started treating its homeless with tenderness and care—then perhaps more people would opt to be homeless (sending our percentages even higher), for there's not but a handful of developers in town who can say the city has treated them like sweethearts. Though there are a distinct few.

Now meth—meth, meth, meth: that's a big one. No doubt it's a nasty drug, from whose pestilence children should be protected at all times, but thank God people still perceive Nevada as the one remaining sanctuary in America for adults to dilapidate themselves with any poison they so choose, liquor, blackjack or even crystal meth, until they fall from their artificial paradises and land in a state willing to give them a second chance. Just as Nevada does with the high school dropout, the divorcée, the teenage mom, and the homeless.

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