Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Las Vegas Bailout

The mayor of Las Vegas just doesn’t get it.

The president mentioned Las Vegas in a comment about corporate bailout recipients wasting money on travel.

Now an angry Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman is saying that Las Vegas ought to get its share of the bailout money too.

For the cooler heads among us, the incident serves as a pointed reminder of the slippery slope of bailout money. You start propping up some of the most essential companies that make the economy function, and just a few months later, the mayor of a city that doesn’t really have anything to do with any of that is irate that more of that money isn’t coming to his city.

First of all, it’s important to remember that the purpose of the bailout is not to stimulate the economy, but to keep it from collapsing. Las Vegas, though certainly hurting, is not in any danger of collapsing or of bringing down the whole national economy.

Banks need to cut their travel expenses for the same reason that the government sent them bailout money: so they don’t run out of money and go under. That’s just a reality, and we all have to live with it.

If Mayor Goodman can’t keep one of the wealthiest cities in the country running without federal bailout money, money intended not for cities but for the financial system, he is incompetent and should resign. His letter and its implied request for his city’s share of bailout money is an embarrassment to the country (example of a foreign headline: “Sin City wants Obama’s apologies”). Goodman has, intentionally or not, pitted his city against the survival of the country it belongs to. It is conduct not suited to the office of mayor, and I am sure I am not the only one hoping an apology or retraction follows shortly from Goodman or other leaders in Las Vegas.