You kept waking up in a cold sweat, convinced it was all just a bad dream.
Politicians sneaking into your house in the middle of the night, emptying every purse, jewelry box and change jar. Liberal activists cornering you in a dark alley, pelting you with organic granola and fair-trade coffee beans until you hand over your wallet. Six-figure bureaucrats lurking in the shadows, telling you how to think, making all your decisions.
Then you picked up the newspaper and realized your worst nightmares had come true.
No doubt about it, 2009 was an ungodly brutal year for taxpayers. The federal government spent enough money to offend drunken sailors everywhere, then sent the bill to your grandchildren. The Nevada Legislature raised some of the state’s most regressive taxes amid a crippling recession. Your neighbors and friends lost their jobs and their homes, depleting their savings to get by. Your government masters, meanwhile, kept their jobs and got pay raises.
So many terrors. So many claws reaching for your paycheck, threatening your livelihood.
But who should we fear most? Which sinister entity is scary enough to send Lord Voldemort crying to his mommy?
In solidarity with the rest of this publication’s year-end lists, I give you Nevada’s five worst taxpayer nightmares of 2009:
5. Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada: This nonprofit band of lefties never tires of coming up with ways to spend other people’s money in the pursuit of “social, economic and environmental justice.” They’re convinced that we all want expanded government services — some of us are just too obtuse to recognize that higher taxes are a good thing, and that elected officials can be trusted to put our money to the most effective, efficient use possible.
PLAN’s executive director, Bob Fulkerson, channeled Willie Sutton in explaining why his organization intends to launch an initiative that would ask voters to impose crushing taxes on the mining industry, the only sector of the economy that’s actually done well through these hard times: “That’s where the money is.”
A profitable industry in this economy? We can’t have that!
Please, somebody slap a cross on Fulkerson and his cronies and make these vampires slink away.
4. Christine Clark: Earlier this year, when higher education officials were moaning that UNLV couldn’t possibly survive additional budget cuts, Clark, the school’s vice president for diversity and inclusion, was running amok in pursuit of a politically correct dystopia — and you were paying her more than $162,000 per year to do it.
Clark was the principal author of an unconstitutional speech code, called a “bias incidents policy,” that required campus police to investigate incidents of free expression that left anyone with hurt feelings, and she dispatched a lobbyist — initially at your expense — to ask lawmakers to dumb down public school curriculums with feel-good exercises in multiculturalism, among other attempts at making sure no one at UNLV is ever offended by anyone.
Clark’s work helped get David Ashley fired as president of UNLV. The speech code was quashed, the lobbyist was reeled in, and Clark stepped down from her post this fall. But the nightmare continues for taxpayers, as Clark got to collect her full salary this semester for teaching a single class.
3. Bill Raggio, Steven Horsford and Barbara Buckley: These three lawmakers had no mercy on the taxpaying public this year as they worked together to ram through $1 billion in tax hikes. While Nevada companies were shedding jobs, these three were overwhelmingly concerned with the needs of the government they’ve grown over the years, and protecting the unsustainable salaries and benefits they’ve put in place for their most important constituents: public employees.
State retail sales were slumping? Raise the sales tax! Layoffs everywhere? Raise the payroll tax, and punish companies for creating new positions! Taxpayers holding onto their cars longer because they can’t afford new ones? Raise the vehicle registration tax! Hotels can’t fill their rooms? Raise the room tax! Then watch as the new revenues come nowhere close to projections, setting the stage for new cutbacks — and new calls for higher taxes.
Buckley, the Democratic Assembly speaker from Las Vegas, won’t be around for the 2011 Legislature, but Sen. Raggio, R-Reno, and Sen. Horsford, D-Las Vegas, will be back to lead their respective caucuses — and raise your taxes again. Be afraid.
2. Harry Reid: The scariest thing about the Senate majority leader from Searchlight isn’t that he bought off fellow senators with the tax dollars of future generations to get his health care boondoggle passed; it isn’t that he wants to finish off our reeling economy with a cap-and-trade scheme to mollify the Democratic Party’s global warming cult; and it isn’t that he has no intention of ever doing anything to address the crushing unfunded liabilities of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.
The scariest thing about the unprincipled Reid is that he doesn’t care a whit about the consequences of what he’s wrought. Congress screws up everything it touches, and yet he has the gall to include in his health care monstrosity language that says the legislation can never be amended or repealed?
Reid doesn’t care what taxpayers want, and he thinks he’s smarter than you. Remember that when you vote in November.
And now, put your Freddy Krueger claws together for Nevada taxpayers’ worst nightmare of 2009 …
1. Ryan Beaman: Of all the fiends tormenting taxpayers, none feels more entitled to your money or is more disconnected from economic reality than the president of the International Association of Firefighters Local 1908.
Beaman represents Clark County firefighters, who were paid an average of $118,196 each last year and enjoy lavish benefits including two months of paid leave per year upon hire, and taxpayers picking up the entire 37 percent match required to fund their pensions.
This fiscal year, when Clark County officials were trying to address revenue shortfalls and preserve jobs and services, firefighters were asked to accept smaller salary increases, as other bargaining units had. Firefighters were in line to get a 3 percent “cost-of-living” raise — even though the cost of living has fallen — in addition to typical 6 percent step raises, longevity raises or other salary enhancers.
Beaman responded first by declaring concessions unnecessary because the county was in outstanding fiscal health, then he offered a “concession” that would actually cost taxpayers more than the firefighters’ current deal: reducing their COLA from 3 percent to 2 percent in exchange for two additional vacation days per year (which drive up overtime costs to taxpayers) and an extension of the contract.
“The concessions are the greatest of any of your unions or associations,” Beaman wrote to county leaders, when in fact, his proposal was far and away the worst.
The all-Democrat, labor-owned Clark County Commission was so insulted it didn’t even take a vote on the offer. Layoffs start next week.
One, two, Ryan’s coming for you. Three, four, better lock your door. Fix, six, grab your crucifix. Seven, eight, gonna stay up late. Nine, ten, never sleep again.
Glenn Cook (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a Review-Journal editorial writer.