Sunday, Dec. 7, 2008 | 2 a.m.
Visibility zero. Who can see a thing?
Chances are good that almost anyone who was alive during the stock market crash of 1929 is at an age today at which the memories of that financial meltdown are more from a young child’s point of view than from someone from whom we can learn very much. That means we are on our own and we are, by our actions, inactions or wrong actions, proving that every day.
This is not a doom and gloom column — although I am convinced that unless many of us in Las Vegas and the country can get on the federal government’s bailout list there will be fewer of “us” tomorrow — because I do believe the United States is resilient enough to come out of this mess generally intact. But it is an attempt to look at a few areas of our human interaction and determine whether we are proceeding correctly.
For instance, I spent the better part of a very early Friday morning listening to Senate hearings regarding what is now a requested $34 billion loan to the auto industry. One cannot help but question the ongoing bailout of the financial industry without some positraction — how’s that for a car world word? — attaching to the auto industry and the millions of jobs attached thereto.
A bit more selfishly, government help for the car industry would mean manufacturers and dealerships will advertise again because people will need to know about new cars soon to be available, meaning the Las Vegas Review-Journal and other news organizations will have revenue coming in with which to pay for those large newsrooms they employ. That means the money the Las Vegas Sun gets from the Review-Journal for that very purpose will allow us to continue providing the best and most accurate news and information to Las Vegans.
On a less selfish but far more important note, if our nation’s news organizations go under — and they are all subject to financial destruction over the next year — who will provide the credible information we need to help get us through this most unpleasant and dangerous recession?
Oh, yes, I shouldn’t forget to mention those millions of jobs across the country that will disappear along with the Big Three if they don’t get financial help. Coming to a city and neighborhood near you, I might add.
Of course, the auto industry isn’t the only area of great concern. In fact, pick any industry in any city in this country and you will find people scrambling to stay alive. The hardest part of it is that no one can see an inch into the future, so there is no understanding of what must be done. And no one can make a reasoned judgment about what to do because no one has ever been in this place before.
If you don’t believe me, ask the folks at the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department how their plan to dole out $700 billion to the financial world is going. Going nowhere is the answer if you ask anyone who needs to be on the receiving end of those loans that just ain’t happening.
There are other risks, too, that we have to be careful to avoid during this time of low or no visibility. And that is our human ability to overreact to just about any situation.
When times are tough, it is prudent and essential to look at every cost saving and every opportunity for new revenue. That is true in our business lives as well as our personal lives. But we must also be vigilant enough to not fall prey to false prophets of fiscal sanity whose motives may be questionable and whose message may be harmful.
It is a small issue, but one that strikes me as falling into this category is the other newspaper’s mission of personal and institutional destruction. It involves the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.
I have my own issue with that governmental body and its refusal to take advantage of resources in Las Vegas that will help it sell Las Vegas as a destination. (Disclosure: I have a business,
Vegas.com, that was created specifically to better serve our tourists and that is ignored by the Convention Authority for reasons that are incomprehensible.) So I should be the first in line to destroy its image in the public’s mind.
But right is right and wrong is, well, wrong. And although there are many things about the Convention Authority that need to be changed — things that matter not very much in good times but which must be addressed in bad times — there is the “good that they do which must not be overlooked or interred with their bones.” Thank you, Mr. Shakespeare.
I refer specifically to the right wing’s effort in this state, through the pages of the Review-Journal, to undermine the benefit to Las Vegas of the Convention Authority and its mission of bringing conventions and other meetings to our city, especially now. At a time when hotel companies are cutting expenses left and right — among them their marketing efforts to these outside groups — we need more than ever the advertising and marketing benefits the Convention Authority brings to our city.
And yet, stories in the Review-Journal are designed to soften up the Convention Authority just before the next Legislature meets early next year. I would be shocked, for example, if there weren’t a push to emasculate the Convention Authority in Carson City over the next few months and I would be even more shocked if the Review-Journal stories weren’t Exhibit A in the effort.
But, where those folks have gone too far, in my opinion, is their attack on the Convention Authority’s support of the National Jewish Hospital and Research Center in Denver. In an effort to show that Convention Authority boss Rossi Ralenkotter is reckless with public money, they pick the one place that not only deserves all the support it can get from Nevada because it saves lives ... of Nevadans.
You see, we don’t have a place where people with asthma, for example, can get the kind of live-saving treatment that National Jewish can provide. It provides that treatment regardless of our ability to pay. If you ask me, we don’t support that hospital enough!
So that presents two questions. First, what are the lives of Nevadans worth to the Review-Journal and those who seek to do damage to the Convention Authority? And second, who thinks our city is in any shape to “kill” one of the geese that helps in the laying of golden eggs?
Yes, visibility is zero and none of us knows how any of this is going to turn out. But, at a time when we cannot see clearly enough to make our way into tomorrow, is today a time destroy that which we know actually works?
Are you willing to risk your job and your future on the answer?
Brian Greenspun is editor of the Las Vegas Sun.