How Dare You Pee on Las Vegas, With Facts?

The Way We Live Now: debating. Gambling, you mean? That's a cheap shot. Your whole city is a cheap shot. At least we're not snooty elites. At least we're not degenerate craps hustlers. Is Vegas done? Yes. No. Wanna bet?

If you want a good laugh followed by an unsettling feeling that some people's behavior is totally inexplicable, read this alarmingly unhinged rebuttal by Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist Doug Elfman to Adam Nagourney's Sunday New York Times story, "Las Vegas Faces Its Deepest Slide Since the 1940s."

How Dare You Pee on Las Vegas, With Facts?

How dare he assert the Las Vegas economy is in trouble! Elfman can be forgiven for his homerism—this is a man who wears a fedora in his official photo, after all, where else is he gonna get a job?—but the way he goes about it is a little...well, "crazy" is the word I'm looking for, after a brief struggle for a more palatable synonym. First, there's this:

I am not accusing you of falsifying observations and statistics. Yes, Vegas needs more gambling whales and economic diversity, duh. And unemployment statistics are (as you say) "a stark contrast to the 3.8 percent unemployment rate" of a decade ago. Bravo for comparing recession numbers to boom numbers, Captain Obvious.

In other words: the NYT's premise is correct. Good start! Elfman goes on to quibble about how a new hotel is opening, and how "Donny and Marie have done boffo," and how traffic on the Strip is "jamming," and other minutiae that does not involve economic numbers. Then he rolls out boffo knock socko rocko!

If I sound a tad frustrated with you, Adam Nagourney, it's because your story discounts those of us who have been working very hard, for two years, in the face of recession, and we can see things are getting better.

That is, just like people in the rest of America, many people here have been working 60 hours a week, six days a week, on skeleton crews, to get the job done. We've been grateful to have jobs.

Newspapers should not write economic stories based on "numbers" or "facts." They should write economic stories based on the premise that any city with many residents "working 60 hours a week, six days a week, on skeleton crews" who are "grateful to have jobs" is clearly a city on the rise, economically. Because that makes more sense. Now give em the final blow, Elfman!

I read your stupid lead. Then I went to the grocery store. It was packed as usual with we who work hard in this town every day to make things happen.

And what did you do, Adam Nagourney? You sat on your brains and peed on us.

With Vegas' water problems, they'll take all the pee they can get.

[Pic: Flickr]