A Simple Plan

Nevada needs help.  We need money, and fast.  Gaming revenues are in the tank, and will probably continue their downward spiral.  Sales tax revenues are down, and no one is predicting an uptick soon.  Our main  revenue generator has been the construction industry – ‘nuf said.

Plan Part 1 – Build Yucca Mountain and hold the rest of the country hostage for storage and transportation fees.  Nuclear waste needs to end up somewhere, and where better than Yucca Mountain?

Plan Part 2 – Legalize same sex marriage in Nevada.

Discussion on Part 1 will be spirited to say the least.  But I want us to focus on Part 2. (I would love to credit and congratulate the poster on the  RGJ who raised this issue, but can’t retrieve the link).

In Nevada, we simply don’t care as long as any activity raises revenue and reduces our tax liability.  We were first in the nation with legalized gambling (oops, gaming).   First in the nation with legalized prostitution.  First in the nation to advertise our "ranches" on the rooftops of our taxi cabs.  Our mining practices aren’t exactly what i would call "green".  We are "morality neutral" here in this land of the libertarian, as long as we can tax it and avoid paying a  state income tax.

Do you have moral issues on legalizing same sex marriage here?  Give me a break, whores are legal and condoned and even our elected officials here.  Who cares who you boink – what’s the upside for our tax coffers?  Imagine thousands of couples coming over the hill to get married with their entourages, filling out hotel rooms,  dropping some swag at our casinos,  marriage parlors with wait lists, restaurants full, and local businesses with increased sales – all taxable.   We can fill our local coffers right now when we need them  filled.  It just takes a little of our Nevada Spirit of "who cares?"!  Maybe some of the couples will even find the charms of our fair community and buy some of our empty real estate.

For generations, Reno and Nevada were the divorce capitals of the nation.  Why not make them the new marriage capitals?  Free money for us.  And maybe just the right thing to do.


About Mike McGonagle

An architect, business owner, and compulsive public records hacker, Mike reads the tea leaves of the local real estate market from a unique perspective.. A former Chicagoan, Mike earned his MArch from Harvard University. Mike can be reached at mike@macassociates.com or 775-345-7435. His continued musings can be found on the REreno.com blog.
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38 Responses to A Simple Plan

  1. Avatar Future Buyer says:

    I think I’m done giving any more time to this blog. What the hell does this have to do with real estate? Let’s keep the moral issues out of this!

  2. Avatar Reno Ignoramus says:

    Well, Mike, let it not be said you shy away from provocative posts. However, In 2002, Nevada amended its State Constitution to prohibit same sex marriage. To undo that, it would take an affirmative vote of the State Legislature to remove the ban, and then the people of Nevada would have to vote in two consecutive elections to remove the ban. So the earliest it could happen would be 2012. Perhaps too late to address the current budget woes.

  3. Avatar MikeZ says:

    For the life of me, I don’t understand why the thumpers work themselves into such a lather about allowing gays to marry.

    Doesn’t matter to me one way or the other.

  4. Avatar DownButNotOut says:

    I hope this was meant tongue in cheek, or at the very least to inspire discussion. Otherwise you should work on your tactics. As Ricky would say, you have some ‘splainin’ to do Lucy.

    If you mean to state the obvious that never gets stated here, do so in the future with a better point, (read tact) unless you are suggesting we should also reinstate indentured servants, maybe segregation (that would bring them in) and underage drinking, among other things. Wouldn’t that also bring in ‘free money?’

    Otherwise I’m with FB above. See ya.

  5. Avatar BanteringBear says:

    Not a huge fan of the picture under the title, myself. But, I’ve got bigger fish to fry. I don’t honestly even think about gay marriage. I suppose it’s much more important to the gay community, which is why it continues to resurface.

    When I think about marriage, I think about having children. I honestly don’t see any other reason to get married. Gays can’t produce children, so to me, their union is pointless. I’m sure they think otherwise, but not being a gay man, I don’t understand the importance or significance. Honestly, I don’t even understand homosexuality.

    Finally, I don’t think making NV the gay marriage capital of the country is the answer to the states financial problems. Not only don’t I think it would pass muster with the legislature, but I think the state needs to move beyond a tourism based economy, to something more stable. What that is, I’m not exactly sure. A continued favorable corporate tax structure can’t hurt.

  6. Avatar Reno Ignoramus says:

    Three hundred years ago moderate opinion held that only a sensible number of witches ought to be executed, while radical liberal opinion argued that no witches at all ought to be executed.

    One hundred and fifty years ago, moderate opinion held that slaves ought to be let free after spending a sensible number of years in slavery, while radical liberal opinion argued that slavery ought not to exist at all.

    Seventy five years ago, moderate opinion held that marriage between a white person and a black person ought to be the subject of sensible, rational prohibition, while radical liberal opinion argued that all people of any race ought to be free to marry without racial restriction.

    At the crossroads of history, roadblocks in the name of convention have always been erected.

    History, however, is the story of the slow march of liberal ideals and values. Seventy five years from today, our descendants will evaluate the current cenvention against gay marriage in the same way we today consider the former laws against bi-racial marriage.

  7. Avatar GratefulD_420 says:

    Yucca Mountain please.

    I am a liberal, tree hugging kinda guy. I am a Chemical Engineer by degree and trade. I strongly beleive in a balance between business and environmental stewardship.

    Yucca mountain should be opened and all waste moved there immeidately. There should be no argument from any environmentalist. This is the safest and best place for it. The current waste is sitting in aging & leaking containers (Hanford, WA)contaminating the environment.

    Its’ easy… lets all agree it’s a mid-term solution (say 150 to 200 yrs) rather than forever (can’t prove forever scientifically, and thats why they are loosing in court) and get it done.

    And I most definately agree with Mike…. lets take there money and any current resident has a right to education, low power cost & no taxes. Basically… we can do the right thing and make a ton of money. Or we can fight them…do the wrong thing for the county, nature and environment and get nothing. Easy choice here guys.

  8. Avatar Walter says:

    I could be wrong, but I believe that a few years ago former Governor Bob List, after he had left office, said that Nevada ought to just recognize that there is no other politically viable alternative to Yucca Mountain, and agree to it. In exchange, the State would receive compensation and other financial incentives. I don’t believe that any elected politician, at least while in office, has ever expressed support for Gov. List’s idea.

  9. Avatar NewInTown says:

    I think it is a great idea. If you saw what is happening in California which is running out of room I would think that Nevada would want to encourage growth and tourism. Isn’t that what is going on anyways. Not everyone wants to live or come to Nevada it is a personal choice. Luckily it is a beautiful place to visit year round. California for whatever reason has decided to turn its back on many gay people which I consider to be a huge mistake. Yes not everyone wants to get married or have children or be protected under the law either. Are we going to start gay lynchings next? Don’t follow in the footsteps of California. It doesn’t sound like undoing the law is possible and I haven’t yet read the RGJ article so not sure what this is about yet.

  10. Avatar Move to Reno says:

    Ok, the gay marriage capital of the world is out. That leaves Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Dump. But I don’t see how Nevada can charge any fees or taxes on that operation since it is a Federal Government facility.

    So how is Nevada going to balance its budget? Is there a State income tax lurking around the corner? Since Nevada is on the bottom of the list for providing government services, there can’t be much room for more cuts.

  11. Avatar RobF says:

    Sounds like a great idea. Nevada is the real “Live Free or Die” state. However there is a whole lot of “old thinking” on this issue, so it may be hard to push through. No pun intended.


  12. Avatar Reno Ignoramus says:

    There will be no state income tax in Nevada. The ban against a state income tax is constitutional. The populace of Nevada would have to vote, twice, to impose an income tax upon itself. Can you imagine anything less likely to occur?

    Governor List’s proposal was that the State negotiate with the Feds that in exchange for financial compensation and other monetary/tax advantages it would abandon its oposition to Yucca Mountain and allow the depository to proceed. (You see, when you call it a depository it sounds somewhat more acceptable than when you call it a dump.) Governor List’s proposal was predicated upon the idea that ultimately Yucca Mountain is politically inevitable, and rather than having it forced upon Nevada with nothing else to show for it, the State ought to accept the inevitable and make a financially beneficial deal while the window for that opportunity still exists. As walter says, Yucca has become a lightening rod in Nevada politics, and every politician now believes that he/she cannot claim bona fides without expressing opposition to it.

  13. Avatar Phil says:

    Start allowing the recycling of the waste as well (like the French do). And I see nothing wrong with Yucca, it has to go somewhere. A centeralize facility sounds more eco freindly than having it all over the place.

  14. Avatar Move to Reno says:

    Thanks RI for that explanation. I see that Sen. Inhofe of OK has proposed a payment plan for Nevada regarding Yucca Mountain of $500 million a year. Of course, the Nevada politicians have to get the ball rolling because I suspect that most folks in Washington are not too eager to fork over that kind of money to the State of Nevada.

  15. Avatar billddrummer says:

    To RI,

    Thanks for pointing out the constitutional ban on state income tax in NV.

    If the Yucca Mountain project goes forward, that gives NV a chance to reap huge payments from states wishing to store waste here. And consider that several billion have already been spent at the site to prepare for the waste, and it seems that thwarting it is like trying to stop a train with a paper mache wall.

  16. Avatar Tom says:

    R.I., I like your point, that a depository sounds better than a dump.

    Reminds me of Our Gov. Terminator and the legislators here in Calif, who know how to play that word game: here a “fee” seems to sound better than a “tax.” But those of us opposed to more taxes don’t care what our state politicians choose to call it.

    The idea still keeps coming up to create “fees” and avoid the various super-majority requirements to avoid limitations on taxes, including the Prop. 13 Constitutional limitation on increased property taxes. Hopefully that tactic won’t pass a legal challenge.

    I think charging the feds and sister states to make deposits into the Nevada depository is a peachy idea, seriously. Then they should also be charged a User Fee to drive their big rigs hauling the deposits on your highways to get there– after all, wear-and-tear, potholes, etc, they would be heavy users.

    The 18 wheeler drivers (or locomotive engineers) could then visit all those new trendy bars downtown I keep reading about in the RGJ and join up with those reputed nationally-leading Washoe County heavy drinkers… an extra bonus for the downtown economy. A total Win-Win situation.

    Now, guys, with logic like this, shouldn’t I be in President Elect’s new cabinet? I could fill that Bill Richardson job. 🙂

  17. Perhaps the Yucca Mountain issue can be boiled down to: Is the waste safer stored on the sites of the nuclear power plants? or is it safer storing 7 miles deep in a mountain? I vote for the latter. Yes there are issues with transporting the waste, but have you seen those tests they do on the shipping containers? Nearly impossible to breach even with explosives. I say store it here and tax the crap out of the rest of the country on a per-litre basis of nuclear waste (if its liquid).
    Besides if a breach ever does occur, particularly downtown, downtown residents will have nice ambient green lighting at night. We won’t need any money for new lighting downtown!

    Not so sure on the gay marriage thing, two gay friends of mine were married in Tahoe/California and have zero rights in Nevada so what was the point?

    Nevada needs to think green green green. Incentives to get ‘green’ based companies to relocate here and Nevada could become the leader in renewable energy resources. We have all that desert out there we can stick wind farms and solar farms on. Lots of geothermal too. We have the perfect manufacturing set-up for companies who produce ‘green’ materials/products to relocate here. They just need incentives.

  18. Avatar BanteringBear says:

    While Yucca mountain certainly could provide revenue for the state, helping to mitigate the effects of the lost tax revenue from declining gaming, it’s hardly an answer to the more significant problem which is the lack of good paying jobs in the greater Reno area.

    Further, should Yucca mountain provide the aforementioned revenue, I see no evidence that the government would curb their age old habit of throwing it down the drain, rather than saving for a rainy day. While the latest bubble had the coffers spilling over, the imbeciles frittered it all away.

  19. Avatar Move to Reno says:

    Recent news about Yucca Mountain is that Reid and Obama are against it and that funding for it will be stopped. So you all can forget about Yucca Mountain as a cash cow for Nevada’s budget.

    Which brings us back to the basic question of how is Nevada going to make up the $800 million shortfall in its budget?

  20. Avatar Doug B. Cooper says:

    Who wants to bet that Nevada gets a State Income Tax? Sure, why not, it worked for California. California is doing great! LOL. RIGHT!

    IMO… Open Yucca Mountain and make some use of it. It’s going to happen eventually.

  21. Avatar longerwalk says:

    What bugs me about all of this is the old notion that you reap what you sow.

    We have not invested in our citizens to bring higher-paid jobs here. Whenever the local governments make some modest deal with companies to take root here, the populace acts as if they’ve been taken to the cleaners. We believe the less tax the better, period.

    The last is true, up to a point, and then as a community we hit the point of diminishing returns. Maybe we don’t care about our children’s or our community’s future, so their education on that low tax rate is just fine thankyouverymuch.

    So we sang and played hard during the good times, and now that they are bad we are very put out. Will we ever learn?

    I’m not a transplanted Californian; I’ve lived many places en route Reno and CA isn’t one of them. Neither is NY, CT or other high-tax state. But I do see the value in well-funded, well-run schools where the parents really do care, and the other citizens at least tolerate the notion. Plus making a place attractive and a good place to do business never hurts.

    Sure, Yucca Mtn is likely a good choice for cash; as someone said, it’s likely to happen anyway. But same-sex marriage is out for ‘immediate.’

    I don’t see that NV holds a lot of attraction for growing companies, since our workforce is low-wage educated and useful mostly for bricks-and-mortar work. Not much of that kind of company going to move or expand now, given the credit crunch, at least.

    So, we are now reaping what we sowed–not much!

  22. Avatar GinoinSF says:

    Why are so many of you hetrosexuals SO threatened by Gay Marriage?
    I agree its off the topic of this Real Estate posting/blog, however some of these posts on here are FRIGHTENING!!!
    Gay rights =Equality. Its simple. Memorize it!

  23. Avatar KB says:

    Has everyone heard of the Alaska Resident Fund. In exchange for taking oil and gas out of the state, the oil and gas companies pay into a fund, lets call is a State Wealth Fund (SWF). The SWF is then invested in various places and the income on from the SWF is returned to the residents in the form of a annual rebate check. NV needs a SWF and the source of those funds is Yucca Mountain. NV needs to get rid of the Not in my backyard attitude and start seeing Green in both meanings of the word.

    On a seperate but similar issue, I agree with the Downtown Dude who stated that we should set our desert with wind farms. They are working on one in the area between Spanish Springs and Pyramid Lake right now but the 50-100 residences are throwing a fit about it in their “backyard” Those are the type of project everyone should be at the planning commission supporting. If the residents don’t like them near their land then they should find the one foolproof method of deciding what is on that property and buying the adjorning property.

  24. Avatar KB says:


    Also a little off topic, but please bear with me.

    In this report, an optimistic view of the current downturn is that many companies from CA will start packing up and moving the jobs to NV due to the budget crisis and other regulation related issues. Our low houseing and high unemployment is a godsend to the owners of those companies who have the opportunity to move the business. And is great news to those of us already here.

  25. Avatar Reno Ignoramus says:

    The current fashion among politicians in Nevada is to use the term “revenue enhancements” in place of the dreaded word taxes. So as our Legislature gets ready to head into its bi-annual session the first week in February, all of the politicians are talking about what potential “revenue enhancements” might be in the offing.

  26. Avatar GreenNV says:

    Thanks to (almost) all of you for taking this post in the spirit in which it was written. Some pretty interesting discussion ensued.

    For the record, I am dead serious about the substantial and immediate impact that legalizing same sex marriage in Nevada could have on our economy. Kudos to longerwalk for being the only commenter to use the term “same sex” instead of “gay” marriage. Subtle but important difference.

    Yucca Mountain – wow, I thought I was the only person in the state who thought it might not be a bad deal for the taxpayers of Nevada if we play our cards right. I really wonder if most Nevadans are really against Yucca, or just against it without benefits.

  27. Avatar BanteringBear says:


    Since you felt it necessary to point out that there is a “subtle but important difference” between the terms “gay marriage” and “same sex marriage”, can you please enlighten those of us who are not part of “same sex” community (is that PC enough?) as to what that important difference is? I even googled “is gay marriage a derogatory term”, and am at a loss.

  28. Avatar Gary says:

    Before Prop 8 passed, I was predicting that California would become the preeminent destination of choice for tourists who wanted same-sex nuptials. They blew it, and so did Nevada in 2002. I can’t help but wonder if the outcome would be different with the financial incentive that results from an ever deepening financial crisis.

    As for Yucca Mountain, I think it’s a terrible place to build a nuclear waste dump, but it would be a lovely location for “Atomic Leftovers Heaven.”

  29. Avatar Renee says:

    Why stop at same sex marriage? Let sisters and brothers marry and parents marry their children. I’m going to marry my best friend so she can add me to her company benefit plan… maybe you’re right? I love my dogs, if I marry my dog can I use the carpool lane? If my dog has puppies because the neighbors dog got in the yard, can I claim them as dependents?

    I agree with the comment from the “future buyer” on Jan. 06: I think I’m done giving any more time to this blog. What the hell does this have to do with real estate? Let’s keep the moral issues out of this!

  30. hmmm. Show me some definitive proof that legalizing ‘same-sex’ marriage provided an economic boost to the state of Massachusetts.
    Perhaps in Nevada’s case we’d get some some gay folks that can afford to move trickling in from California….but right now, most gay people I know can’t even afford to move from one house to another in Reno much less relocate their lives just so they can get married and have same-sex couple benefits. I could be wrong…in the long term there might be benefits as the economy improves and people can afford to travel.

  31. Avatar Harvey says:

    “…in the long term there might be benefits as the economy improves and people can afford to travel…”
    Interesting possibility, but I don’t think so.
    It is possible that these morality or life style convenience motivators turn off as many people as they turn on. Making Nevada a legal same-sex marriage state might encourage some to move there, but it could also turn the contrarians off, and they wouldn’t move there, just for that reason. As an example, many people here in Cali fought hard for Prop 8 and they are highly motivated. It doesn’t matter to me one way or the other, but I know people for whom it would be a decision-maker. So I doubt it would necessarily be a plus, you would never know how much migration you lost to subtract from that which was gained.

  32. Avatar GinoinSF says:

    Renee said,
    In January 8th, 2009 at 8:49 am

    “Why stop at same sex marriage? Let sisters and brothers marry and parents marry their children. I’m going to marry my best friend so she can add me to her company benefit plan… maybe you’re right? I love my dogs; if I marry my dog can I use the carpool lane? If my dog has puppies because the neighbors dog got in the yard, can I claim them as dependents?”

    Ginoinsf reply: RENEE- how can you honestly say that without soundly COMPLETELY like a fool. You want to marry your dog? go ahead, none of my business. But when you compare equal rights to “marrying your dog” that statement becomes so ridiculous and SUCH an uninformed statement. It’s downright insulting. I’m shocked that there are still people in the world who feel equal rights are up to a vote. Should we stop women from voting next because the “Majority wants it?” C’mon pick up a newspaper and READ it!

    Other than that, have a great day. Onto the subject of real estate.

  33. Avatar Future Buyer says:

    I agree if you marry your dog there is no way a dog can consent to that, so that argument is ridiculous. I think polygamists will want in on the game though, and just think of how many tax write-offs that could add up too!! I don’t know when the media decided that a life choice has become a “right”. They have done numerous studies to find the “Gay Gene” and it just doesn’t exist. Marriage is not a right–that is why you need a license for it. Gays do have the right to marry, just someone of the OPPOSITE sex. The whole marriage thing is a way for homosexuals to feel excepted, but forcing the issue isn’t going to accomplish that. It’s not about rights, because they have the same rights with civil unions. It’s ridiculous to think that it would make money for Nevada. I think if we were given the opportunity as a state to vote to make prostitution illegal–don’t you think that would pass with flying colors! We should be able to vote these life issues we live in a democracy. I’m done with my 2 cents on this topic–it’s completely absurd! We already did vote on this a couple of years ago–guess what–it DIDN’T pass!

  34. Avatar GinoinSF says:

    Gay Marriage = Equal rights. If you cant handle that move to Montana.

  35. Avatar DownButNotOut says:

    Thanks Mike for bringing up this idea of legalizing Gay marriage. You taken a topic that should be a right for any person and trivialized it into a circus – and then tried to capitalize on it with profits. Is this the best you can do on Realty site? A regular Howard Stern move. Fortunately most all of the respondents so far have missed the point of you’re advocating selling a lifestyle for the money it procures.They at least are sincere in discussing acceptance of the move, not the brass initiation of this ‘why don’t we just..’ mentality. You should be ashamed for considering this topic for what you envisionit’s capitalization reasons.

  36. Avatar Dan says:

    Don’t forget divorce but Nevada on the map too. Enter the Dude Ranch

  37. Avatar Move to Reno says:

    Something in the paper today about Nevada thinking about cutting the pay of teachers and state workers by 6%. Now that can’t be very good for a housaing market recovery.

  38. Avatar BR says:

    My wife and I were thinking the same thing as we walked out of the movie “Milk” a couple of weekends ago. Same sex marriage, decriminalize pot, start raking in the cash. Everything else is legal, let’s run the board.

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