Dry Deluge

September may start a long-lasting hellish stretch for tens of thousands of Las Vegas area residents. Particularly renters, and to lesser extents homeowners carrying mortgages.

Nevada’s current economic travails will be worse than those delivered by the Recession. Then, despite the state’s main revenue driver being hobbled, gambling and hospitality still attracted crowds. Appreciable economic activity continued.

Coronavirus will not permit the same. The malady has rendered the Silver State moribund. A condition it won’t emerge from anytime soon.

Bad enough the $600 unemployment supplement expired in July. Unless there’s been an extension of it, on September 1st the state’s eviction moratorium ends. Nevada is not lenient in such matters. The Silver State is one where meager benefits and abrupt actions intend to incentivize gainful employment.

Oh, sure. A lot of the residents are soft touches insofar as handouts to the destitute wretches. But that’s chump change meant to assuage any guilt pangs and perhaps ward off the beggars’ same sad sack fate being visited upon donors.

Here’s how donors should best stave off rough living – don’t surrender to their inhibitions and don’t get lost in everything Las Vegas gladly offers as long as his or her money lasts. With weak people, diversion becomes addiction really quick in this city.

Worsening the likely deluge of expected homeless is the state’s rapid process for dispossession. In Nevada, all it takes is somewhere between 3-15 days to evict delinquent renters.

I’ve watched furniture being hauled out of apartments and stacked curbside at 3 o’clock in the morning.

Las Vegas’ homeless ranks are expected to swell because the hotel/casino industry has been poleaxed by Covid-19. People visit Las Vegas to socialize, see strange things, act in ways they’d never consider at home, enter alien adventures and intrigues, then after these brushes on the wild side return to domestic life safe and sound with the full knowledge that for a time they lived outside themselves somewhat.

Given Trumpvirus’ nature and its easy spread these preclude a lot of the entertainments and diversions Las Vegas offers. No clubbing. No barhopping. No pool parties. No attending fabulous extravaganzas. Just proscribed ways of dining, gambling and shopping.

Why fly or drive to the Mojave when these same limited options can probably be enjoyed nearer home?

Sure. Cut-rate airfares and hotel room rates have drawn once undesired guests undeterred by the city’s limited attractions. These are the sort of people whose lack of wherewithal would’ve kept their noses pressed against the window. Before today’s difficult times, they wouldn’t have had enough folding green to actually venture into the adult candy store that is Las Vegas. Yet that’s how low the city’s fortunes have plummeted.

The Big Mayberry now pursues visitors it would’ve disdained in February. The chumps and busters who are always part of the Las Vegas mix have now been supplanted by pikers and deadbeats. Or as they’re labeled, “garbage.” Lured by desperate hotel/casinos advertising poverty rack rates that allow the properties some kind of money churn, garbage tumbles into the city and returns as little as possible.

The new guests are generally young, woefully uninformed, callow, and uncouth. Accompanied by mature supervision they might’ve been better adults. The same mentors also could’ve demanded they travel with luggage or backpacks instead of jamming their articles in trash bags.

Today’s pikers and deadbeats make yesterday’s chumps and busters resemble high rollers.

They come to say they’ve stayed in Las Vegas. As these people wander aimlessly confronted by all sorts of closures and restrictions, one must wonder whether if it matters any about how much is truly absent during their presence? Do they possess any real imagination? Enough to fill in significant gaps? Or does being in a substantially reduced swirl somehow suffice? And if so, is that how small their real lives are?

Another aspect of these opportunistic visitors is how little they bring in discretionary cash. It can’t be overlooked or ignored. Las Vegas is a money town. Budgeting here means splurging within one’s means. Put simply, money dropped here is that which can be comfortably lost.

Too many of the current visitors acting as “revenue streams” carry only traces of money. These are the sort of travelers who at home struggle to cobble together enough loose-and-found change in order to buy 24-oz. cans of overpriced beer from predatory convenience stores. They laughingly expect to stretch these meager amounts far in Las Vegas. Hardly able to make it at home in much more favorable conditions, how might they achieve this in Las Vegas?

A consequence of the garbage traveler’s parsimony is the service staffs getting stiffed. Gratuities make up decent portions of the hotels’ as well as restaurants’ personnel salaries. Those dollars then circulate among the ancillary providers and businesses filling Metropolitan Las Vegas.

If service has been lousy by all means squeeze the tip. However, the routine disdain garbage has shown towards the courtesy, the near glee expressed in denying it, lessens much desire for the establishments’ employees to extend much hospitality.

It also feeds, builds, and perpetuates stereotypes.

Unlike older generations which saw hard work as an ultimately rewarding key, the bulk of today’s younger visitors discount slow and steady rises. In their instant gratification/self-absorbed/self-centered universes the idea of measuring progress incrementally and exhibiting patience are alien concepts. Therefore, hotel staffers and dining servers must appear lackey work – this to people often marking time in minimum wage drudgery.

Thanks to unions, as well as employers, bussing tables, changing sheets and cleaning rooms, opening doors then hauling luggage in Las Vegas were once fine entries into middle-class comfort. Through such jobs countless honest people gained solid lives.

Those who could, who were smart, bought their residences. Plenty now own them outright. That’s real security.

With our nation unfortunately besieged by Trumpvirus a lot of earned pleasures and prosperity for working Nevadans are in jeopardy of becoming past tense.

It’s amazing the disconnect between those working in Nevada’s main economic driver and people toiling elsewhere. The latter are so unaware of the hotel/casinos’ importance to their own livelihoods it’s embarrassing.

Because residents working beyond gaming and hospitality remain so far untouched they believe their whole situation is bulletproof. Nothing can be farther from the truth. The fate of the craps dealer who had been furloughed now facing layoff may eventually strike the fast-food burger flipper and department store clerk.

By the way, furlough suggests the employee will be recalled. Being reclassified as laid off is an indirect way of stating one should seek other employment.

A steep percentage of the Las Vegas workforce derives sustenance from the gaming and its support industries. Not to mention the thousands employed in the various facets that stage and man convention centers and exhibition halls. A terrific number of those jobs pay extremely well. Much of that money stays in Las Vegas and percolates through it. A great many dollars circulate across a lot of hands. This constant exchange created and sustained Las Vegas’ prosperity. From spring through early summer, only the $600 unemployment benefits supplement blunted sharp declines.

That money has been missing for several weeks now. Worry should grow beyond the most directly affected.

The supplemental allocation allowed continuance of unessential purchases. These have always plumped retailers’ bottom lines.

If merchandise isn’t being rung up from sales floor, there’s less need for associates’ presences in aisles and at registers. Therefore, there’s less need for inventorying and warehousing. Hence fewer deliveries because of decreased sales. Idled handlers and delivery drivers then join redundant clerks as well as other hourly and salaried employees engaged elsewhere thereby further stressing the local economy.

Expect a good many of them to increase the swell of evicted Las Vegans as 2020 proceeds.

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