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Giving thanks

Nevada state seal. (David Calvert/The Nevada Independent)

Thanksgiving has come and gone. Our bellies are full of mimosas, buffet turkey, buffet mashed potatoes and gravy and all the other classic dishes of the holiday. It is simply the perfect time to pause and reflect on all of the things that we are thankful for as Nevadans. 

I’ll start by being thankful for not having Thanksgiving at a buffet line this year. 

No, I’m not one of those curmudgeons that opposes restaurants being open on Thanksgiving on “family tradition” lines. Way I see it, someone has to cook on Thanksgiving, and, if it won’t be you, you have no right to “volunteer” members of your family to cook for you. At least buffet workers are getting paid with cold, hard cash; what are you giving your parents or your partners? A toxic combination of tradition, guilt and stress while you watch football and spill beer on the floor? 

No wonder so many families are miserable during Thanksgiving. 

Not mine, of course. We reorganized into an anarcho-syndicalist commune years ago. Our Thanksgiving menu was adopted during our last biweekly affinity group plenum and promulgation was successfully delegated via consensus to our various child worker councils. As always, the carving of bread by this week’s plenum coordinator served as the traditional capstone for our family’s Thanksgiving observances. It was truly a touching ceremony filled with camaraderie, recollections of the Spanish Civil War, and renewed agitation for Catalonian independence. 

I kid, I kid. We just gland Softnow while we change genders on the fly and talk to our Minds while they do all the cooking. Meetings are sooo boring. Best to only participate in them during special circumstances. 

With that fanciful bit of preamble out of the way, what is there to be thankful for this year? 

If you live in the best state in these United States, there’s quite a bit to be thankful for. We are now less than a decade from our state song becoming public domain, which means, come 2027, we’ll be able to sing “Home Means Nevada” in public without paying royalties to the estate of Bertha Raffeto. I will note that there are some very smart people that think that intellectual property has never been meant to reward innovation or creation; instead, it exists solely to create ever-expanding government-protected monopoly profits. I will also note that even most student loans are repaid within 30 years, while copyrighted works published before 1978 were copyrighted for up to 95 years, and works published after 1978 are automatically copyrighted for the life of the author plus up to 120 years. 

In related news, I’m thankful that Project Gutenberg and HathiTrust exist. 

I’m also thankful that the public’s willingness to let various local and state government bureaucracies throw taxpayer money into football stadium-shaped wood chippers is finally starting to run thin. The Southern Nevada Water Authority learned that the hard way when its plan to preach water conservation to drunk tourists on the taxpayer’s dime came to light in this very publication. In response, they did what any reasonably run public entity did and passed the buck to an advisory board, perhaps with the hopes that everyone will get bored and forget all about the idea until it’s too late to actually stop it. 

Unfortunately, I bear bad news for SNWA. I’ve met the staff at The Nevada Independent and they really don’t have anything better to do than to attend some random water authority citizen advisory board. Some of them even have time to edit my writing. I’m sorry, SNWA, but you’re just a wounded bureaucratic gazelle running away from a pack of smart, dedicated persistence hunters with journalist passes and, except for Riley Snyder, some non-trivial amounts of student loan debt. There’s no escape. Let it go.

Speaking of local and state government bureaucracies throwing taxpayer money into football stadium-shaped wood chippers, did you know UNLV’s rent for Allegiant Stadium may be five times higher than the rent they’ve been paying to half-fill Sam Boyd Stadium? If I volunteered to be an investor in the Raiders, I’d be pretty thankful for that, too.

Since I’m not, well, my feelings are somewhat more oppositional.

I’m also thankful that people in our state are taking gerrymandering seriously enough to propose a constitutional amendment. Interestingly enough, I agree with many of Rev. Leonard Jackson’s objections; I just don’t think it’s possible for a political process to produce an organization that is somehow immune to political pressure. All solutions, political or otherwise, require people to carry them out. Though we’ve certainly tried to abstract that away throughout our country’s long and storied history, the best anyone can do is minimize the worst of the damage. Letting the Legislature draw district maps is prone to obvious abuse. Letting a commission do the drawing at least encourages some measure of independence from immediate day-to-day political pressures. 

Even so, I am thankful that Rev. Jackson raised the issues he raised because he’s absolutely right - a misbehaving legislature can absolutely put thumbs on the scales. That means it’s on us, as voters, to hold our Legislature accountable when they form redistricting commissions, just as it would be on us to hold them accountable if they drew their own district maps. No matter how hard we try, we can never make our responsibilities disappear. The best we can do is delegate some to others from time to time.

I’m thankful we’re not yet at the point in the election season when presidential candidate visits close airports and freeways. I won’t be so thankful next year, so consider yourself warned. 

I’m thankful the Nevada Bar Association is rightly minding its own business.

I’m thankful I’m not homeless in Nevada. Our housing situation in Nevada is dire enough to keep paroled convicts in prison; anybody who thinks it’s just a simple matter of “getting a job” and “taking a shower” hasn’t done any apartment shopping lately. I agree that personal choices and responsibility factor into homelessness. I just disagree that the personal choices and responsibilities of single-family homeowners that treat new apartment or condo construction in their neighborhoods as if they’re categorically identical to a new fat-rendering plant or a slaughterhouse are somehow off the table.

I’m thankful that some places, albeit not in Nevada, are eliminating single-family zoning. Minneapolis is on to something. We should take notes.

I’m thankful for my health. 

I’m thankful for my family. 

Finally, I’m thankful for The Nevada Independent for letting us share this moment together. If you’re thankful for the hard work this crew puts in, let them know.

I hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving, Nevada. I did. 

David Colborne has been active in the Libertarian Party for two decades. During that time, he has blogged intermittently on his personal blog, as well as the Libertarian Party of Nevada blog, and ran for office twice as a Libertarian candidate. He serves on the Executive Committee for both his state and county Libertarian Party chapters. He is the father of two sons and an IT professional. You can follow him on Twitter @DavidColborne or email him at [email protected]

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