Sunday, Dec. 11, 2011 | 2 a.m.
Happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me. ...
Today is a big one. It is that birthday that even the government determines should be worthy of note. This is the day I become eligible for all manner of taxpayer-assisted assistance. It is a day that was never going to happen and, now that it has, I am not sure how to react.
In the past, especially when times were good — who can remember all the way back to four years ago when frivolity was a significant part of many decisions — there were all kinds of creative ways a person could celebrate with his or her friends. Today, though, it is just another day on the calendar and one in which there is much stock to take.
So, rather than figure out ways to celebrate this particular birthday, how to spend money when no one has any, I think it better just to share a few birthday wishes in the hopes that they may hit a common chord.
First on the list, of course, is I wish that when I was 40 years younger and never thought this day would come, I didn’t think of today in terms of old, retired, nothing to do, out to pasture, on the downhill slide and moving faster.
Nothing could be further from the truth. I think I am young, there is no way I can retire, there is more to do now than ever before and all the pastureland has been repossessed. If there is any truth to what I thought it is that life does slide by as if we are moving downhill. And it is picking up speed.
So, for you 20-year-olds, consider that getting older starts well into the 90s and you will be much happier when you reach my age.
As someone who has spent his entire life in Las Vegas, I wish that the federal government would have long ago stopped its drive to make our state the burial ground for the world’s deadliest garbage — high-level nuclear waste. I wish the people of Nevada, who are overwhelmingly opposed to allowing the nuclear power industry and the Republican-controlled House of Representatives the ability to destroy our tourist mecca, would step up and make their voices heard. I wish they would understand that this thing ain’t dead yet. I wish they could see what is happening, even as we speak, through the concerted efforts of the pro-dump forces who want to remove the only person at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission who is standing up for us.
I wish the people of this state would, one more time, rise up with their pitchforks and demand that our entire congressional delegation stop this insanity.
I wish all that so our children and theirs can have many, many happy birthdays to come.
I have another wish. I wish that my friend, Sheldon Adelson, who says he is worried about underage Internet poker players having access to those games if the government makes it legal, could understand what is happening today. There is no regulation and that means anything and everything bad that can happen probably is.
The Internet poker industry is here to stay so either the federal government figures out how to regulate it and tax it or the 50 state governments will do it for them. Right now plenty of states are waiting to make it legal. State lotteries are figuring out how they can reap the benefits of Internet gaming — not just poker. And there are any number of jurisdictions there will get it wrong.
I wish Sheldon could understand why it is better for the federal government to regulate the industry and why it is better for the state of Nevada, and perhaps just a few others, to take the lead on licensing and regulation. There are thousands of jobs to be created in Nevada and millions of dollars to be made by the gaming companies, which employ Nevadans.
I wish Sheldon could understand that there are hundreds of thousands of Nevadans who make their livings in this state, who don’t have Asia to promise them vast riches and who must find the ways and means to thrive right here at home. And I wish he understood that the technology available on the Internet is very good and uses active measures to prevent underage gambling. Although it’s not perfect, neither are the methods used by brick-and-mortar businesses. I know if he understood all of that, his wish for a healthy Nevada would be the same as mine.
I also wish a very happy birthday to my dear friend, John Moran Jr. We have celebrated our birthdays together for more years than most people are alive. I wish that we can do it for many more to come.
Beyond those very few wishes there is just one more.
I wish every person in this state and all of my friends could know the joy I receive daily from my wife, my daughter and her husband, and my very precious grandchildren. In the end, regardless of what number marks a particular birthday, the presents we receive every day from those we love are enough to sustain us through whatever adversities come our way.
I don’t want for much in this world where so many people don’t have very much at all. A closed Yucca Mountain, a mind open to the wonders of the Internet and the blessings it could bring to Nevada and the love of family.
Those are my birthday wishes. Now, where is that cake.
Brian Greenspun is the president and editor of the Las Vegas Sun.