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Prelude to a Recovery

98

Give your boss two weeks notice, say goodbye to the neighbors, grab your kids (not like that), sell your house, rent a U-haul, and move to Vegas.  

Tourists worldwide have realized the error of their ways, and Las Vegas has finally come back.  Rooms rates are up, occupancy rates are near 100%, and the gaming tables are full. Plans to build a new airport are going forward, and both the Fontainebleau and Echelon Place will be opening next week.  It is a new era in Las Vegas.  An era ushered in by record visitor numbers fostered by a huge wave of optimism.

It's 2005 all over again.

Hey, this is a day we all knew was coming.  Right?

How could it not?

Las Vegas couldn't possibly stay depressed forever.  It was bound to make a comeback.  I mean, it just had to.  It always has before, and this is irrefutable evidence that it always will again.  Everything in the world is cyclical, and this means that all down trends are followed by up trends.  Always.  Every time.  Just look at Flint, Michigan.  Unemployment is a thing of the past.  The automotive industry finally came to its senses and they opened 5 new assembly plants with the stated goal of making the bestest, safest, fastest, most reliable, most ass-kickinest cars the world has ever seen!

 

While the beginning of this article may seem like a parody to some, I can assure you that there are thousands of people across the Las Vegas Valley who are convinced that it will someday become a reality.

My neighbor is one of them.

For the last several weeks, I have been having a semi-daily, friendly debate with him.  He has lived in Rexville since the 1970's, and he assures me ... unequivocally ... that we are mere years, if not months, from a full-on comeback.  He has been tempted to move out of Vegas on a few occasions, but he doesn't want to sell now.  Definitely not now.

Instead, he wants to wait for the rebound.  He wants to wait until the Fontainebleau opens, and he wants to wait until the corner of Sahara and Las Vegas Boulevard becomes the new Times Square.

As he has been relating his hopes and aspirations to me, I have listened politely, nodded my head, and when it has come time for me to express my opinion, I have done so with one key word: "Why".

For the past couple of years, I feel like people across the valley have been sitting in their houses, arms crossed, waiting for someone to bring Las Vegas back.  I feel like shareholders and casino owners have been doing the same.  Every talking head in the city, every optimistic resident, every new business owner in the Valley is absolutely convinced that Vegas is going to stage a huge comeback, but nobody has ever told me why they think this will happen.  

In order for a rebound to occur, there must be a catalyst for it.  Someone must actually DO something.  There must be a spark, a change, a paradigm shift ... a REASON for it to come back ... yet to date, nobody has given me an actual reason for why this will happen.

This passive optimism troubles me.

You see, wishful thinking is not enough to revive a city.  Instead, real changes have to be made.  Positive changes.  Overwhelmingly positive changes. 

As of today, very few of these changes have been made.  If anything, some things (such as gaming odds) have changed for the worse.

In order for the economy to get better in Las Vegas, one of two things has to happen:

 

  1. The tourism industry must recover
  2. New industries must move in, bringing jobs and opportunities wholly unrelated to tourism

 

Since there is no sign of #2 happening (I ate a lot of bananas yesterday), the entire city is hanging its hat on #1.

But, why would #1 happen?

WHY I ask you?

Why would tourists once again want to start dropping large amounts of money in Las Vegas?

Gambling odds have been depressed to insulting levels, the police are raiding clubs left and right trying to eradicate drugs and prostitution from "Sin City", security guards are harassing everyone wielding a camera (which these days is literally everyone), "terrorist" paranoia is rampant, hotels are hitting customers with ever-increasing junk fees, cab drivers are fleecing tourists to pad the pockets of their corrupt bosses, air travel is becoming more of a hassle by the month, cheap labor is destroying customer service, and The Strip is starting to look like an office park on the outskirts of Atlanta, Georgia.

This?  This is what is going to revive the Las Vegas economy?

Why would it?

Who does this appeal to?

"Damn, Rex.  It sounds like all you do is whine and complain.  All you do is point out the negatives.  Anyone can dwell on bad things.  Unless you offer solutions, you're just like the cross-armed optimists waiting out the recession in their underwater houses."

Well, whoever you are, you're not accurate.  You did, however, craft a fine rebuttal for a 98'er.  It's certainly worth a solid C+ for effort.

Contentment and optimism have never spurred change.  Appreciating the status-quo, making the best of things, or looking on the bright side are not virtues, they are vices.  They are the domain of the common idiot. 

Progress occurs almost solely because of malcontents.  Think about it, if everyone had been content with catching mice by hand, there would be no mousetrap.  If Henry Ford had been content to walk, there would be no car.  If some guy somewhere had not sat around and bitched about the heat, we would not have air-conditioning.  If Layne Staley had been content to just say no, we would not have "Junkhead".  If every tea-drinking, fish-and-chip eating, limey bastard had been content with the King's government, we would not have the USA.  If some dickhead in Las Vegas had been content with "Las Vegas is amazing, click here to book now" blogs, the internet would have 10,000 fewer pictures.  If everyone got good grades and happily went to college to "get a good job", who in the hell would create those jobs?

Face it, some loser has to hate life, drop out, decide they would rather be a good master than a good slave, and start Apple Computer.  Were it not for egotistical, misanthropic, malcontents convinced of their own intellectual superiority, we would all still be living in caves, trying to heat dinner by banging two rocks together.  

I digress.

While I take a lot of heat for "not being happy in Las Vegas", I don't necessarily see this as a bad thing.  If I were happy in Las Vegas, there is an 80% chance I would be upside-down in a house right now.  Someone has to point out that things are going awry, and when 99% of the people in this town depend on kissing Vegas ass for their own livelihood, there aren't many people left to balance out the equation.

For the past 5 years, I have been yeling, nay, SCREAMING to anyone who will listen, exactly what needs to be done to restore Las Vegas to the most sought-after tourist destination in the USA.  The problem is, nobody has listened to me.  Instead, they have been beating the same tired ideas, hoping beyond hope that they would all of a sudden miraculously work.

Frankly, I know that if my ideas are implemented, the chances of Vegas making a "comeback" are very high.

Simply put, pool parties and ringtone bands are not going to do it.  They're not.  I promise.  If you think they will, then speak to me in five more years when you are still sitting arms-crossed in your McMansion Ghetto decrying the fact that your house has depreciated another 50% and your son's 11th grade English teacher can't speak English.

Vegas needs to change, and it needs to change radically in order to regain the momentum it has lost.

"Fine Rex, since you know what needs to be done to save Las Vegas, indulge us with your brilliant ideas."

Hey, ask and you shall receive:

10 Things Las Vegas Must Do to "Recover"

 


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