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Give Us A Break
by Ken Mahal, NSC President
Originally published on  February 12, 2009 - reprinted with permission


   I did something one should not do I looked at Agnes and my costs for year 2009. In our case we are both NOTCHERS, and also MEANS TESTED because we had some capital gains on tax free bonds. Being Notch Babies we are each penalized $100 per month. And because of some bond income we are each penalized $192.70 per month on Medicare. So that comes to a grand total of $584.40 x 12 = $ 7,012.80 per year over and above what the average senior should be receiving from Social Security and/or paying extra into Medicare. What is disgusting is that Congress handled means testing so quietly that we missed it completely because they did not want us to know what they were doing. Some of you will recall NSC was formed because of an $800 a year means testing proposed some 15 years back by Congress and fortunately millions of us were younger and were able to create so much activity that they backed off the following year and killed the law. The Harry Reid’s and their pals no doubt remembered it this time and sneaked it by all of us, including the news media. What is also disgusting with means testing, Uncle actually double taxes Agnes and I on our bond money because both of us have the $192.70 when to be fair if we were being means tested why weren’t we each charged $ 96.35 instead of double charging us? In fact, I just asked Senator John Ensign to respond to that question. I am waiting for an answer. I also wonder where the ARRP organization was when this means testing went through Congress. By the looks of things it is only going to get worse. I hope your case is better.


   If you have been watching congress and our president you can’t help but wonder how soon are they going to bankrupt our country. The last I heard was that they are going to add another trillion dollars to our national debt for creating new jobs. In all my years I can’t recall when our government created jobs unless it is when they get us into war and we have to crank up the war making industry by building the machines of war. That at least helps us make some widgets like tanks, guns, ships and the likes but it also costs human lives so that is a bad formula for creating a better economy. Even the French are saying don’t bail their country out by doing what the U.S. is doing. When was the last time you heard the French say anything that we could agree with? Even the trillion or a lesser part of a trillion wouldn’t be so bad if there was no pork in it. The last I heard is about a third of the bill will be pork which was not supposed to happen in 2009. Maybe that is the reality of politics in Washington that we cannot get rid of because it is so entrenched in our national politics. To me that makes another good reason not to bail out our economy. Can’t we just let it be done the old fashioned way let the capitalist system work itself out of the mess it got us into. Maybe that is the price we pay for greed and or stupidity or both as the case may be.


   It wasn’t so long ago that Sheriff Doug Gillespie spoke before our group and made no bones about the fact that he will want the extra ¼% sales tax added for his use in the 2009 legislative session. Added to that he also thinks it would be best to consolidate all his needs into a brand new building of almost 400,000 square feet at a cost of several hundred millions. We have been through these ventures before in the Clark County stone castle which was told to us to be partially funded by money put away on the quite which means not telling the tax payers that when there was a budget balance (planned) surplus that was to be the beginning of that building funding and of course that $25,000,000 ran out early so another equal amount had to be covered by the taxpayers by bonds. Then the Clark County University Trauma Center was going to be a real boondoggle until we got involved and convinced the County Commissioners to buy out the developer and finish it themselves. Because of oversight this time it worked. That is a problem with most government building projects where politicians or in this case a favored manager was allowed to get it started before it was found out he was doing a pretty shady deal that was going to mean millions for a couple of buddies that were wired by him to get the job. In this case they were given a contract to build the building on a lease/buy back that was going to put millions in their pockets with no risk because they had the county backing it up to rent for 25 or so years that made for easy financing in their case. I do not want to see any tricks like this played by our sheriff for his new monstrous building something on the order of about 350,000 sq. feet. These build lease back deals are a means to make millionaires out of the developer/builder type contract. I even question the wisdom of putting so much bureaucracy in one building. In this day and age of electronic communications it might be worth thinking more about spread out management with a small administrative management team in a much smaller building. This might not make for a smaller main building in the end but a more effective way to manage the services better. I hope there is a lot of give and take on the best planning before brick and mortar are put in place. As far as the sheriff wanting the next ¼% sales tax increase for more cops that I believe is something that should be put off until at least the next session of the legislature in 2011 given how our economy has tanked. Another fact is that quite a few thousand people are leaving the area because of the fall off of the construction boom and won’t pick up in the foreseeable future. Also with a couple of years breather why not give the present sales tax time to work before taxing the taxpayers for more money. My thinking is that for every ¼% we take $60 to $80 million out of our purchasing power each year the sales tax increase is a burden on everyone’s back. This definitely is not the time to increase any sales tax for anything and on anyone. If the sheriff really wants to help earn that increase may I suggest we all get together in Clark County and have the Clark County Water Authority turn back its sales tax to the taxpayers? If we can do that in the next session or two then I say think about the sheriff getting some of it if the economy is better. I often wonder why politicians can never leave their fingers off of money no matter how bad the economy is. If the sheriff will think back when his sales tax was voted in for two increments the economy was so much better than it is now and there is no sign that our economy is going to get better soon so sheriff how about you tighten your belt a bit like all of the rest of us.


   Like the other comments doesn’t the same go for our state legislature NO NEW TAXES? With the economy in the tank there should be no question that our state budget must be cut in order to live within our present economic period. That means cutting the budget not increasing taxes. We should be very happy that our state is doing as well as it is, so I say again do the right thing cut back expenses and hold the line for 2009 to 2011.