Friday, January 15, 2010

Las Vegas: A Tale of Two Cities

Las Vegas remains one of the world's top tourist destinations--and for good reasons. We've got plush hotels, critically acclaimed restaurants, miles of shopping malls, every kind of show imaginable, and hip nightclubs. You can see historically significant places, like Hoover Dam; ride roller coasters; or visit Vegas-only places like the Liberace Museum and the Atomic Testing Museum. For the visitor, Las Vegas holds an array of things to do and see that rivals any other city. I write about my hometown for NileGuide, and keeping up with all the things we have to see and do is enough to keep my at my computer late into the night.

Then there's the rest of the city, the Las Vegas beyond the Strip.

Like many well-known tourist cities, the Las Vegas that exists outside of the Strip has some serious challenges. You've probably heard about the crime in Atlantic City or the poverty-stricken favelas in Rio. If you've been following the news, you know that Las Vegas is one of the nation's leaders in foreclosures, that our bankruptcy rate is skyrocketing, and that unemployment remains high. Nevada has used only a third of much-needed federal highway stimulus funds (money that could put thousands of unemployed construction workers back to work), HUD has decided we don't deserve any additional aid for foreclosures (without offering much of a reason why), and Nevada's governor is thinking about opting out of Medicaid (when more people than ever need assistance). It's enough to make you nostalgic for the Mob.

While I was reading all those depressing articles this week, I remembered the mutterings of years past, when some Las Vegas residents wondered if Nevada would be better off being split into two states: North Nevada and South Nevada. While that's as unlikely today as when the idea was first mentioned, if Southern Nevada could have its own leaders in charge of things, perhaps we'd have a different set of circumstances. Highway construction funds, for example, might actually be put to use here instead of in Carson City. I realize that drawing a line across the middle of Nevada to make two states out of one is pretty radical, but right now we need some radical solutions.
Photo by Justin Per at


Christine Michaels said...

Hi Vegas Girl--it's Christine from Fabulous Florida. I feel your pain as Miami is suffering from the same economic woes of high foreclosures and double digit unemployment. It's not easy to be in government and making those tough decisions as to where to cut when state and city revenue is down. That's why I'm a believer that individuals should take advantage to go back to school and learn new industries and expand their knowledge and skills. Many people are eligible for free tuition under new stimulus package. I'm using my professional skills to grow my side business which serves as my safety net. I've invested zero monies and the income is growing. The American spirit is to pioneer and find new ways! Good luck!

TH Meeks said...

Hi Christine! Yes, you folks in Florida have been hit hard, too. Part of our difficulties here stem from the fact that our economy was never really diversified to bring in industries other than tourism; perhaps this will be the push that makes that happen. Sadly, having a degree here is often viewed as a minus rather than a plus! I agree with you--I feel lucky that I have more than one skill set, so I can look for work/business in more than one area. Let's hope 2010 is better for allof us!

TH Meeks said...

One note of clarification about my post to everyone:

With the possible exception of the governor's idea about opting out of Medicaid (which gives health care to the poorest), none of the issues I wrote about are cost-cutting measures. The highway stimulus funds were already sent to Nevada, but only about 1/3 of the funds have been released by the governor. HUD money is available to areas hardest hit by the foreclosure crisis, but Southern Nevada was not given any additional funds in the latest round of allocations.