You know how President Obama has gotten in trouble for making disputatious remarks about Las Vegas... twice? Well, once again, I wonder what's wrong with being honest.
First he said, whilst chastising bailed-out companies for spending funds foolishly, "You can't go take that trip to Las Vegas or go down to the Super Bowl on taxpayers' dime." Then last week he made the same point for regular Joes: "When times are tough, you tighten your belts. You don't go buying a boat when you can barely pay your mortgage. You don't blow a bunch of cash on Vegas when you're trying to save for college."
And he's right. You shouldn't do those things.
But representatives from Sin City got all up in arms. From Senators Harry Reid and John Ensign to Mayor Oscar Goodman, demands for an apology abounded. I understand people wanting to defend their turf, but, seriously, let's not gloze over what we're really talking about here: Las Vegas = excess.
It's in every aspect of the town. There are all-you-can-eat buffets and there's all-night entertainment.
The Vegas Strip uses enormous amounts of energy to light up all that neon and cool all those casinos which consume 20% of the state's energy. And let's not forget all those fountains and swimming pools... in the desert... in a drought.
During The City Centre's early days of construction next to the MGM Grand, energy use was estimated thusly: "Each new resident will need 20,000 kWh of electricity a year. That will be 400,000 megawatts at a cost of $40,000,000 a year producing 160,000,000 tonnes of CO2 per annum." Most households use half that amount.
Being the Entertainment Capital of the World, Las Vegas offers lots of distractions for visitors so maybe they won't notice all that resource consumption. Siegfried & Roy, Cher, Joan Rivers, Louie Anderson, Wayne Newton, and David Copperfield are among the usual, expected myrmidons of gluttony.
But Vegas even turns Canadians into consumer lures. Having had a consistently sold-out five-year run at Caesar's, Celine Dion recently announced she'll do another three years beginning in March, 2011. And Cirque du Soleil has their “Seven Shows, One City” thing happening, too, at venues all around town. Oh, Cirque! You break my heart.
Obama is right: Las Vegas is an extravagance that we can't afford. Not now and, really, not ever.