Who else but Nanny Bloomberg—who believes in the free market, as long as it isn’t pimping peep shows in Times Square—would try to ban sodas larger than 16 ounces? Certainly not anyone on our live-and-let-die libertarian desert island. Or so one might think.
In recent years, Nevada nannies have decided that passing laws is more effective than boosting education and more important than choice. Witness the smoking ban (which originally kept adults in some adults-only establishments from partaking in a legal behavior) and the recent law prohibiting handheld cellphone use while driving (but does nothing to curb the use of heads-up displays, dashboard Internet browsers and in-car navigation systems that demand drivers “TURN LEFT NOW!” regardless of circumstances).
Yes, the infamously unequal smoking ban (it did not apply to large casinos) has been relaxed for adults-only pubs that serve food, but that it was passed at all has some old-school Las Vegans frustrated at the social changes that a million new residents can bring—changes that threaten to douse the spirit that brought them here to begin with.
So, as much as it pains me to think so, anything is possible. But when we say goodbye to Big Gulps, we might next say hello to “last call.” And there goes the neighborhood.
When will Las Vegas realize that money isn’t everything?
My dad used to tell a story. Well, he told a lot of stories, but this one in particular has merit here. At one time, you could take a seat at a Las Vegas bar, and sitting next to you would be four guys in cowboy boots, jeans and Western shirts. One of them had spent the day framing a building, one was his super, one owned the construction company and one was the bank officer who signed off on the project.
That story has stuck with me over the years, as it illustrates what was once the egalitarian nature of Las Vegas; money was an equalizer, not a divider. Then all the flashy kids from bigger cities moved in, and the no-limit whale gamblers started to visit. Naturally, the city adapted: Casinos courted celebrity chefs and added expensive boutiques to keep the whales smiling as they were losing. Velvet ropes were tossed up at nightclubs, and bottle service became de rigueur.
We didn’t invent greed, money and flash—we just capitalized on it. So the real question is: When will humans realize that money isn’t everything?