Here is a tale of two classmates. President Barack Obama and I both attended Columbia University, Class of 1983. We both majored in Political Science and Pre Law. We both went into politics- I became the first Nevadan ever on a Presidential ticket as the 2008 Libertarian Vice Presidential nominee. That’s where the similarities end.
Obama chose Chicago, Illinois as the place to build his career, start his family and create his future. I chose Las Vegas, Nevada. Those disparate choices showed up clearly days ago when Obama chose to denigrate my adopted hometown of Las Vegas. Obama literally tried to discourage CEO’s and corporate executives from choosing to hold company events, meetings or conventions in Las Vegas. He was insinuating that Vegas is “Sin City” and not appropriate for business meetings. It’s interesting to note that Obama never said a bad word about Las Vegas when he visited here TWENTY TIMES during the 2008 Presidential campaign.
When Obama chose Chicago as his adopted hometown, he chose a place with the highest taxes; the biggest government; the most bureaucrats and the most draconian government bureaucracy in the country; strict government gun control; and perhaps the worst schools in America. Everything in Chicago is about taxes, government and “the machine.” Obama’s political career was created out of the Daley Democratic machine. People aren’t supposed to think for themselves in Chicago. The politicians think for you. They make decisions about your own money for you. But first, of course, they must confiscate it from you.
And don’t forget the corruption- “Whatever you make in Chicago, stays in the pockets of Chicago politicians.” Machine politicians in Obama’s adopted hometown think your money belongs to them. They think citizens are idiots who can’t think for themselves. Chicago politicians even passed a law to ban Foie Gras from being served at restaurants. They think they know better than you what you should be allowed to eat in restaurants in Chicago. Freedom is a 4-letter word in Chicago.
On the other hand, I chose Las Vegas as the place to build my career and create my future. Nevada is a place where freedom is honored, where taxes are banned by the state constitution, and where guns are welcome in the hands of law-abiding citizens. Don’t take my word for it. Reason magazine recently named Las Vegas the #1 big city in America for personal freedom. Because of our low tax structure, I believe Las Vegas is also #1 in America for economic freedom.
I realize that people from places like Chicago and Washington D.C. don’t understand places where people are free, guns are legal, government is small and taxes are banned. I realize that big government liberals like Obama resent places with frontier spirit like Nevada. I realize that he’d like to hurt a place like Nevada- so the example of the success of lower taxes and more freedom for individuals is muted. But there’s a little hypocrisy at work here. Obama had no problem with Nevada when he visited here nonstop during the Presidential campaign. Not once did he say he would ban companies from holding meetings ad conventions here. Not once did he call Las Vegas a place inappropriate for corporate America.
Obama's comments to a big audience on Tuesday suggesting that companies that take taxpayer money shouldn't hold meetings in Las Vegas are the very definition of chutzpah and hypocrisy. If he thinks of Vegas in a negative way, he should have said so on the campaign trail. Perhaps tens of thousands of Nevada’s blue-collar hotel workers and union members would not have voted for him in November.
The results of Obama’s insensitive, insincere and thoughtless remarks have been devastating to the Las Vegas economy. We have already experienced multiple cancelled meetings and conventions in the days since his comments. So now Obama thinks he knows how and where business executives should spend their money? How “Chicago” of him. This is an example of the arrogance of “machine politics” at it’s finest. I see that both Foie Gras and Vegas fall into the category of “politically incorrect” for Chicago machine politicians.
This is what you get when we allow arrogant politicians, who think they know better than us, to rule our lives from Washington D.C. Obama thinks he is the “anointed one.” The man who has never run (or financed) a business in his life, nor ever created a job, now thinks he is the boss of American business. He has already set a limit of $500,000 on salaries for the CEO’s he lords over. Now Obama will micromanage (from the White House) even the decisions about where meetings should be held by corporate America. Corporations are now expected to cancel their trips, meetings and conventions in Las Vegas to win favor with the “anointed one.” Obama wants to jumpstart the U.S. economy by ruining the Las Vegas economy.
As a result Goldman Sachs has already changed a 3-day business conference from Las Vegas to San Francisco. Here's a great example of the common sense and wisdom of government- the average hotel room rate in Las Vegas is $274 per night; in San Francisco the average room rate is $361. I'm certain the cost of everything else is higher in San Francisco too. But the more important issue isn't wasted dollars- it's freedom. Don't executives have the right to hold meetings and conventions where ever they choose? Don't companies have a right to reward their best employees and biggest producers with special trips to desirable places like Las Vegas? Isn't that how you motivate employees, thereby creating more sales and higher revenues?
What if cancelling a Las Vegas event costs a company an extra million dollars (or two) in cancellation fees? What if switching from Las Vegas to New York or San Francisco costs millions more in higher hotel room and airfare rates? What if this decision, multiplied thousands of times throughout across corporate America, costs the American economy billions of dollars? What if the tourism industry is ruined as corporations cancel all their conventions because they are afraid of what Obama will say? How many millions of jobs will be lost? Is this the “change” we were looking for?
Perhaps “the anointed one” is just bitter that Chicago is among the nation’s leaders in out-migration for the past decade, while Nevada leads the nation in population growth. The people- especially those with assets and businesses- have voted. They have chosen lower taxes and more freedom- the kind found in Nevada, not Illinois. Perhaps that bothers Obama. But he sure didn’t show it during those twenty campaign visits to Nevada. That was then, this is now. Now there’s some change you can count on.
Perhaps Obama doesn't understand that Las Vegas is the very symbol of America across the globe. It is the convention and meeting capital of America. It is the tourist capital of America. The newspaper USA Today only a few years ago called Las Vegas “the economic engine of America.” That could be why Nevada has been the fastest growing state in America for 20 of the last 22 years. That could be why the Census Bureau predicted recently that Nevada would remain the single fastest growing state in all of America for the next 25 years. That kind of success hasn’t been experienced in Chicago in a century.
Or perhaps Obama does understand only too well the success of Nevada. Government ruins virtually everything it touches. Perhaps now Obama wants to ruin the symbol of smaller government, lower taxes and more freedom for the individual. Should anyone be surprised that the man who idolizes Big Brother and thinks government always has the answer, now wants to tell CEO’s where they can hold their meetings? I predicted from day one that Obama’s goal would be to turn America into one big Chicago- with Big Brother ruling every decision, controlling our economy, and ruining our lives. Welcome to Obamaville. Obama’s controversial and hypocritical comments about Vegas are simply more proof that “Whatever happens in D.C., should stay in D.C.”
Wayne Allyn Root was the 2008 Libertarian Vice Presidential candidate. His new book will be released by John Wiley & Sons this Spring entitled, “The Conscience of a Libertarian: Empowering the Citizen Revolution with God, Guns, Gambling & Tax Cuts.” The book is available for pre-sale at Amazon.com. Wayne also happens to be Barack Obama's college classmate (Columbia University Class of '83). For more of Wayne's views, commentaries, or to watch his many media interviews, please visit his web site at: www.ROOTforAmerica.com