Golden State vs. Silver State

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Everyone is familiar with those cheeky TV commercials with the tagline ”Whatever happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.”

Well, we recently came across something that has created a lot of controversy since it came out of Vegas—a $1 million ad campaign from the Nevada Development Authority that aims to lure businesses to the Silver State by attacking its huge neighbor to the west, California.

Some examples of this pitch can be found at:

Here’s a quick synopsis. One of the ads, entitled ”Apples 2 Apples,” shows two apples sitting side by side. One apple is labeled ”Nevada” and the other is labeled ”California.” While the announcer ticks off a list of tax benefits for people doing business in Nevada, the California apple shrivels up and goes rotten. Get the picture?

Needless to say, our friends on the West Coast aren’t turning the other cheek. They’re filling the blogosphere with ripostes which point out that the economic crater in Nevada is as deep—or deeper—than the Golden State’s fiscal valley.

California economic development agencies have been circulating this salvo from Jim Boren, a columnist for the Fresno Bee:

”You gotta love the sleight of hand Nevada economic development officials are using in their $1 million advertising plan to lure California businesses to their state. In ripping California, they suggest that all is well in the Silver State. So here’s what you won’t hear in those ads: Nevada has had the nation’s highest home foreclosure rate for 31 consecutive months. U-Haul dealerships in Nevada can hardly keep moving trucks on their lots as residents fishtail out of the once-booming state. Nevada casino revenues report double-digit declines…”

When Nevada’s ad blitz against California was announced a couple of months ago, Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman boasted to reporters ”It’s going to drive them bonkers. We’re going to crush them.”

To which Mr. Boren responded:

”Nevada isn’t going to crush anyone right now, and this latest campaign has a feeling of desperation. Nothing worse than being a gambler and out of money. I’m almost feeling sorry for them, even though they were gloating when Nevada was riding the economic boom. But right now, Nevada is kissing its own assets goodbye.”

And so, in the midst of the worst national economic calamity since the Great Depression, we now have two states with double-digit unemployment firing broadsides against each other.

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