Mucking with monopolists, mugwumps & mavericks

Expanded from the 3-9-2003 Daily Sparks, Nev., Tribune

Ticked off about rape and pillage at the gas pump? Why you're paying so much has been posted for years in a special Barbwire archive at Here's a quick summary.

First and foremost, keep in mind that BigOil sold the idea of drilling Alaska's north slope as a way to insulate the western U.S. from the temper tantrums of the international cartel. Somehow, government and the damned liberal news media forgot. This memory lapse played right into the hands of the monopolists. Bill Clinton and Al Gore even ended up allowing export of Alaskan crude a few years ago.

Have you ever noticed the immediate jump in gas prices whenever any negative publicity hits? A refinery fire in California or New Jersey. Environmental disaster. A strike someplace. An oil tanker sinking. Saudi sheiks throwing a temper tantrum. El Niño, death rays from Mars, whatever. Prices rise within hours and fall very slowly thereafter.
The real game is to destroy the independent discount retailer. More than two-thirds of west coast independents have either gone out of business or become branded retailers, thus accepting oiligopolistic market control.

ARCO (now owned by British Petroleum) pioneered the practice of "price zones," artificially gerrymandered areas often surrounding some poor mom and pop station with ridiculously cheap competition. Do this for 20 years and independent discounters become an endangered species.

BigOil lawyers have often been able to convince the courts that price zones don't violate antitrust laws. Other major brands are quite content to let ARCO do the dirty work, knowing that we stand within a few years of cartel control. Updating what one beleaguered retailer told the Nevada legislature a few years ago, once all the independents sleep with the dinosaurs, the only thing consumers can depend on is that ARCO will sell for $4.99 when the remaining majors are at $5.00 a gallon.

The looming Bush league war is a godsend for these guys. They will be able to accelerate the demise of the non-branded dealers while gouging huge profits through prices based on little more than fear. Read more about it and please spread the word. I'm tired of doing this all alone. Research Exclusive
State of Nevada study blames chronic fiscal problems on wholesale creation of low-wage casino jobs.

NEW UNLV study shows gambling costs more than it pays in taxes.

Reno Gazette-Journal Editorial — How about a three percent gaming tax hike?

More corporate welfare horror stories: White Paper on Nevada's unfair and regressive tax structure. 1-20-2003 Web Extra

The Silence of the Sacred Cows
Sparks Tribune 1-19-2003

Gambling industry offers only token taxes and cosmetic participation
1-20-2003 Web Extra

State of the State: Next to Nothing
Las Vegas CityLife 1-30-2003

Humongous property tax hike glossed over by Gov. Dudley Do-Right
Sparks Tribune 1-26-2003

The need for zero-based taxing
Sparks Tribune 12-13-98

Logrolling, air raids and dirty deeds done dirt cheap
Sparks Tribune 2-2-2003

Gov. Dudley Do-Right asked for it
Internet Extra 2-3-2003
Las Vegas Review-Journal 2-7-2003

JOIN Silver State Casinos Out of Politics (COP)

FROM GAS PUMPS TO MUGWUMPS. Did you notice the gambling industry's shopping cart comparison last week? They actually paid a guy 20 grand to demonstrate that selected common grocery items sell for about the same price in states with higher taxes than Nevada. This was submitted as "proof" that the Regressive Universal Sales Tax (RUST), the cornerstone of Gov. Dudley Do-Right's tax scheme, won't materially affect us. (Just to be safe, Dudley's overweight tax bill contains a flamingly unconstitutional requirement that businesses can't pass the new tax on to their customers.)

The gamblers expect us to swallow a study which cannot hope to control for all variables. Here a but a few:

All this begs the question of just how stupid do they think we are? (Don't answer that while Shallow Hal sits in the oval office.)

The ideological and moral bankruptcy of the left could be viewed in a press stunt perpetrated late last week by a front group called "True Blue Nevadans" which endorsed Dudley's scheme to stick us with new taxes while his casino patroons pay zilch. How the poltroons of the mislabeled Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada can pimp regressive taxation, I haven't a clue, other than to say that Shallow Hal's cult is growing. (For those without dictionaries, "mugwump" is a 19th Century term for political fence-straddlers who sit with their mugs on one side and their wumps on the other.)

ADIOS TO A COUPLE OF MAGNIFICENT MAVERICKS. Nevada produces some of the best in the world and it is sadly time to note the passing of a pair of them. Former Libertarian Party State Chairman Dan Becan passed away of cancer a few days ago. Dan was not only a good friend but an oftentime election opponent. Over three decades, we debated many times and occasionally worked for the same candidates. This gentle giant labored very hard to expose people to the parallel universe of Libertarian philosophy, a place every student of politics and government should regularly visit. Last I saw of big Daniel, he was picketing an appearance of the federal drug czar at Lawlor Events Center. Dan became a medical marijuana user while trying to fight off the disease which eventually felled the biggest tree in the Porcupine Party's forest. He left a lot of grandchildren and a lot of ideas. All will grow and prosper.

Last December, Nevada lost Dr. Donald Soli. The eccentric MD was a pioneer and practitioner of many alternative therapies, some of which will one day find their way into the mainstream of the medical orthodoxy. But good Dr. Soli paid a terrible professional price for flying in the face of the establishment. Like Dan Becan's, Don Soli's work will always be with us. Rest in peace knowing that you have left your work well done, old friends.

THIS WEEK'S ROGUES GALLERY. Sam Shad's "Nevada Newsmakers" airs on KRNV TV-4 at 12:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday after the noon news. Each program reruns on the same date at 9:30 p.m. on Charter Cable Channel 12 in Sparks-Reno-Carson and on Channel 19 in Douglas County. I'll participate at least three times this week.

Tomorrow's guests include Sen. Joe Neal, D-North Las Vegas, and Nevada Secretary of State Dean Heller, R. Harrah's boss Phil Satre brings both mug and wump on Tuesday. On Thursday, Assembly Speaker and 2006 gubernatorial candidate Richard Perkins, D-Henderson, will take part in the fencing match. The complete lineup is posted at

Be well. Raise hell. | U-News | C.O.P. | Sen. Joe Neal
Guinn Watch | Deciding Factors

Barbwire Oilogopoly Archive


Copyright © 2003 Andrew Barbano

Andrew Barbano is a 34-year Nevadan, a member Communications Workers of America Local 9413 and editor of and He hosts Deciding Factors on several Nevada television stations. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune since 1988.

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