Editorial: Will collaboration on sage grouse finally happen?

Nevada has every reason to feel like a slighted wallflower. We keep getting invited to the big sage grouse dance, but never get asked to dance.

Gov. Brian Sandoval and Attorney Adam Laxalt and others have complained bitterly that state and local input on how to protect the sage grouse population and still conduct economically productive endeavors on the land the birds occupy have been roundly and almost universally ignored by the federal land agencies.

A lawsuit filed by Laxalt on behalf of the state, several counties, a couple of mining firms and the owners of a ranch against the Interior Department, the Bureau of Land Management and others used a variant of the word “ignore” 22 times to describe how state and local objections to land use plans were received. In fact a motion filed by the state in that suit points out that after dismissing local input three top Interior Department officials met privately, after the public comment period was closed, with environmental groups to obtain their “buy-in” on a land use plan.

Sage grouse workshop session.

Sage grouse workshop session.

So, pardon us if we scoff at the cheery BLM press release from this past week under the headline: “Collaboration the key to Sage Grouse success.”

The press release announced the creation of Nevada-based working groups comprised of federal and state agencies and key stakeholders “to identify regulatory flexibility and improve communication and outreach between themselves and the public.”

The working groups resulted from a two-and-a-half day workshop in Reno in early December.

“A key part of the workshop was the emphasis on establishing and improving relationships between the agencies and stakeholders, “ said John Ruhs, state director for the BLM in Nevada. “We also spent time getting to know people as individuals as opposed to just identifying them by their interest or agency.”

He was further quoted as saying, “In the case of the amendments for the Greater sage grouse plans in Nevada, a collaborative network of local, state and federal partners is essential for protecting the sagebrush ecosystem while ensuring multiple uses.”

Though Ruhs has a reputation for being a straight shooter — he brokered a deal that allowed Battle Mountain district ranchers to temporarily continue grazing after permits had been denied — he does answer to the federal land bosses in Washington, from whence just two weeks ago came a proposal to ban mining on 10 million acres in the West — a quarter of that in Nevada alone and most of that in Elko County — to protect sage grouse.

Sandoval fired off a retort saying, “Today’s announcement does nothing to protect the greater sage-grouse, but does cripple the mining and exploration industry. It is an unfortunate end to our collaborative efforts with this administration. I am hopeful the new administration will consider the limited ecological benefits of this withdrawal.”

Now senior Nevada U.S. Sen. Dean Heller called the ban an 11th-hour attack on the West by a lame duck president.

“Federal land grabs are never popular in Nevada and the latest one by the BLM is no different. A mining ban does little to help sage grouse and will devastate northern Nevada’s future economic competitiveness,” Heller said in a press release. “I will partner with the next administration to reverse this decision and to ensure the BLM focuses on the real threats to sage grouse, like wildfires, instead of locking up Nevadans’ public lands. Those are the types of efforts, rather than these harmful mining bans, that will benefit our environment while also allowing our economy to grow,” Nevadans can only hope that with the changes coming in Washington these working groups might actually be listened to.

National BLM Director Neil Kornze — a former aide to Nevada Sen. Harry “Lock Up the Land and Throw Away the Key” Reid — has announced he is stepping down on Jan. 20, the day Donald Trump is inaugurated president.

Trump, meanwhile, has nominated Montana Rep. Ryan Zinke, who grew up in a logging town, to head the Interior Department.

That BLM press release announcing the working groups quotes JJ Goicoechea, chairman of the Nevada Sagebrush Ecosystem Council, as saying, “While this process was just the beginning, there was a collective recognition of key issues to address and an overall feeling that if we don’t collaboratively work toward solutions, we will fail individually.”

Perhaps, with a different band in Washington playing a different tune, Nevada will finally get to dance.

A version of this editorial appeared this week in some of the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel,  Sparks Tribune and the Lincoln County Record.

Newspaper column: This little ‘Piggy’ is getting fat at the public trough

piggy

Back in the 1970s Wisconsin U.S. Sen. William Proxmire began handing out his monthly Golden Fleece Award, recognizing wasteful spending by government agencies, such as a $4 million advertising campaign by the Postal Service to encourage Americans to write more letters to each other.

After his retirement, along came Oklahoma U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, who published an annual “Wastebook” list of 100 wasteful government boondoggles and debacles, which one year criticized the IRS for allowing $17.5 million in tax deductions for business expenses at Nevada brothels, such as breast implants, costumes and “equipment.”

A couple of years ago the folks at the Nevada Policy Research Institute picked up the cudgel and gave it a Nevada spin. “The Nevada Piglet Book” each year compiled a compendium of pork, profligacy, political proclivities and petty poltroonery.

Apparently the porker has grown, because this year’s recently published 28-page edition is titled, “The Nevada Piggy Book 2016.” Perhaps in a few years, at the current rate of state and local government growth in spending, it will be called “The Nevada Hog Book.”

One of this year’s new entries is a slap on the wrist for a $12.1 million, 3-mile demonstration bike path along the shores of Lake Tahoe, administered by the Tahoe Transportation District. Yes, that is more than $4 million per mile. You can build a four-lane divided highway for less than that.

The goal is to eventually build a bike path around the entire lake, which is more than 70 miles in circumference.

“The Highway Safety Research Center, housed within North Carolina’s UNC-Chapel Hill complex, estimates that constructing a bike path can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $500,000 per mile. …” the authors of the Piggy Book note.

In another new entry, the NPRI publication takes aim at the Nevada Department of Wildlife’s penchant for purchasing more vehicles than it needs.

According to an audit, the agency in one recent year had 118 total pooled vehicles, but more than half — 64 — had been driven less than the required 8,400 miles in a year. Four vehicles had no recorded mileage at all.

“Reducing fleet size could result in annual savings of up to $244,000 and a one-time savings of up to $163,000 from disposal of excess vehicles,” NPRI quoted the audit as saying.

The bulk of the book was devoted to a perennial topic: overly generous public employee salaries and obscenely excessive retirement benefits.

The Piggy Book cited several examples of retirement benefits undreamed of in the private sector. One Nevada firefighter retired in his early 40s and immediately began drawing a $105,000 annual pension from the Nevada Public Employee Retirement System. Though he had worked only 20 years, he “purchased” five years of entitlement to qualify for a 25-year pension level.

That firefighter is currently working full-time at a California fire department and being paid more than $300,000 a year. If he lives to his mid-80s, his annual Nevada pension alone, after compounding up to 5 percent a year in cost of living adjustments, could exceed $500,000 a year, NPRI calculates.

A Nevada police officer, the book tells us, retired at age 38 and began drawing $110,000 a year in pension money. Considering his life expectancy and cost adjustments, his total taxpayer funded pension should exceed $13 million.

“Nevadans’ tax dollars should go to providing public services,” the authors argue. “They should not be funding million-dollar retirement benefits for people out to amass personal fortunes by exploiting the bad public-policy decisions of naïve, ignorant or tainted politicians.”

The book further notes that local government salaries for police, firefighters and corrections officers rank fourth highest in the nation when adjusted for cost of living, while the adjusted wages of average Nevadans rank 46th.

The trajectory is for things to get worse before they get better.

As state Controller Ron Knecht pointed out recently, over the past decade total state spending (and that does not include local government agencies) grew 55 percent, while Nevadan’s incomes grew only 27 percent.

The term for that is unsustainable.

NPRI concludes, “For the interest groups that have covertly taken up residence within the public trough, trimming government is manifestly verboten. They have come to believe that — regardless of the waste, fraud and abuse that routinely takes place — they can always squeeze a few more billion dollars from the naïve, hard-working taxpayers.”

A version of this column appeared this week in many of the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel and the Lincoln County Record — and the Elko Daily Free Press.
 pay

Public employee pension funding not likely to be addressed this session either

In 2008 the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce called on the Legislature to change public employee retirement benefits from the current direct benefit plan to a direct contribution plan, similar to a 401(k), because the expenditures were growing at an unsustainable pace.

In 2011 a report drafted for the Nevada Policy Research Institute by Andrew Biggs, an economist with the American Enterprise Institute, concluded the Nevada Public Employees’ Retirement System is vastly unfunded. Using market accounting standards instead of government standards, Biggs estimated PERS was not underfunded by $10 billion as PERS itself reported, but by more than $40 billion.

 

At the time, according Biggs, Nevadans should have been spending nearly $6 billion a year to fully cover the cost of pension — that was equal to the total state general fund budget for two years.

“What people don’t realize,” Biggs said to a luncheon audience back then, “is your typical public sector pension plan is a lot more generous than what a typical person is going to get in the private sector. Let’s just take a person and run their wages through what they would get from PERS versus what they could get from a typical 401(k) plan combined with Social Security, because public employees here don’t participate in Social Security.

“They both pay the same amount on average. The total contribution is about the same, but the benefits for someone under PERS — for a full career employee — is somewhere around 50 percent higher.”

Lawmakers did nothing.

In 2012, Thom Reilly, director of the School of Social Work at San Diego State University and former Clark County manager, came out with his book, “Rethinking Public Sector Compensation: What Ever Happened to the Public Interest?”

“To no surprise,” Reilly said, “the premise of the book is: Because we have not managed it well, we have created a system that is not only unsustainable but creates serious challenges for service delivery and efficiency, is rife with conflict. Basically, it’s created in the public system an ethically troublesome personnel system.”

In the book, he writes, “Difficulty raising or generating taxes to cover these unfunded liabilities has already surfaced. In states and local jurisdictions, payments to cover these liabilities are crowding out revenues for parks, road repairs, schools, universities, and safety net programs for the poor and elderly.”

Lawmakers did nothing.

Also in 2012, Biggs and Jason Richwine reported in The Wall Street Journal that public employees don’t work as hard as those in the private sector — following on their previous discoveries that public employees are overpaid in general, and teachers in particular, and their pensions are far richer than those in the private sector and they can retire decades sooner — which was especially true in Nevada.

In 2014 a researcher at the American Enterprise Institute did the calculations and found Nevada’s public pensions are the richest in the nation — $64,000 a year or more than $1.3 million in lifetime benefits. That doesn’t include public-safety workers, such as firefighters and police, who can retire earlier and generally have higher salaries, especially in Nevada.

Lawmakers did nothing.

In a 2015 editorial in Battle Born Media newspapers called for pension reform. It backed Reno Republican Assemblyman Randy Kirner’s Assembly Bill 190, which called for reforming PERS, which was costing at the time  nearly $15,000 per Nevadan per year and growing.

The changes Kirner proposed would have applied to state and local government workers hired after July 1, 2016, leaving unchanged the benefits promised to current employees and retirees. “The bill protects people that are in PERS today,” Kirner told reporters. “A promise made is a promise kept.”

AB190 would have introduced a hybrid — part defined benefit, part defined contribution. A defined contribution plan is similar to the 401(k) programs used primarily by the private sector.

Kirner’s bill also would have ended the practice of allowing government workers to purchase up to five years of retirement credit and retire at 70 percent of highest pay after only 25 years on the job.

The bill also tied the minimum retirement age for receiving full benefits to that allowed under Social Security, though police officers and firefighters would be able to retire with full benefits 10 years earlier.

Lawmakers did nothing.

This past summer NPRI published “Footprints: How NVPERS, step by step, made Nevada government employees some of the nation’s richest.”

Written by NPRI’s Director of Transparency Research Robert Fellner, the 36-page report warned that “should today’s international no-growth economy stumble into the deep financial crisis that many forecasters fear, NVPERS’ fantasy economic forecasts will be replaced by immediate bankruptcy — leaving every Silver State household with a sudden, implicit, $50,000-plus tax liability.”

The report detailed how NVPERS benefits have ratcheted up over the decades by virtue of incremental benefit increases, collective bargaining gains, earlier retirement age, allowing the purchase of years of service, padding base pay with add-ons such as callback, standby, holiday, shift differential, extra duty, hazard and longevity pay, and simple compound interest.

Fellner noted that local government employees have taken advantage of their collective bargaining union contracts and negotiated to have their employers actually pay the employees’ pension contribution, claiming this is done in lieu of a salary increase or in conjunction with a salary decrease — even though local government pay checks rank eighth highest in the nation.

This week Gov. Brian Sandoval delivered his State of the State speech. In it he said, “This session, my budget includes a four percent cost of living adjustment and increased funding for health benefits to recognize the shared sacrifice and dedication of our state employees.”

That means pensions will increase accordingly.

Sandoval said not one word about pensions.

The Las Vegas newspaper made note of that this morning in an editorial:

Also notable in the budget proposal is what’s missing.

“Even after overcoming the effects of the recession,” noted a 2016 report by the Pew Charitable Trusts, “states face financial pressures that will shape budgets now and for years to come. A major issue for a number of states is how to cope with an accumulation of unfunded public pension and health-care liabilities.”

Yet the governor’s budget contains no plan to reform the state retirement system or to address its massive unfunded liability, one of the highest in the country, per capita.

Perhaps a few lawmakers will pick up the cause. But if inertia on this looming issue remains the preferred course of action among those in Carson City, there soon will come a time when there won’t be enough money in the entire state to dig taxpayers out of the abyss.

If you are making book on what the lawmakers will do, just note the history of shrugging off this looming crisis.

 

Editorial: Give Nevadans a voice in land use

Gold Butte (R-J photo)

Gold Butte (R-J photo)

Nevada’s two remaining Republican representatives in Washington have joined forces to introduce legislation that would prevent future presidents from usurping Nevada land without first consulting Nevadans.

This past week Sen. Dean Heller and Rep. Mark Amodei, who represents Northern Nevada, introduced the Nevada Land Sovereignty Act of 2017 (H.R. 243, S. 22). If passed, it would block executive fiats designating or expanding national monuments without congressional approval or local support, they say.

In just more than a year President Obama has unilaterally declared off-limits to productive economic uses 1 million acres of Nevada land — first the 700,000-acre Basin and Range National Monument in Lincoln and Nye counties and in recent weeks the 300,000-acre Gold Butte National Monument in rural northeast Clark County. Basin and Range alone is larger than the state of Rhode Island.

Obama used the authority granted him by the Antiquities Act of 1906. Though more recent legislation has required environmental reviews and public comments, none was undertaken.

The legislation introduced by Heller and Amodei is terse and to the point. It basically piggybacks onto current law that reads: “No extension or establishment of national monuments in Wyoming may be undertaken except by express authorization of Congress.” The current proposal would amend this by simply adding the phrase “or Nevada” after the word Wyoming.

“Whether you agree with our proposals or not, I have always supported a public and transparent process which includes input from interest groups, local communities, and elected representatives,” Congressman Amodei was quoted as saying in a press release announcing the legislation. “Unlike all of our Nevada lands bills that allow stakeholders an opportunity to voice their concerns and ultimately reach a consensus agreement that achieves bipartisan support, the Obama administration has repeatedly bypassed Congress and local input. I continue to be amazed by the fact that some people hug unilateral, non-transparent monument designations, while at the same time, protesting vehemently over the introduction and public discussion of congressional lands bills proposals. In contrast to the last eight years of this administration’s one-sided approach on major land management decisions in Nevada, our bill simply ensures local stakeholders have a seat at the table going forward.”

Sen. Heller was quoted in that press release as saying, “Late last month, without even having a say in the matter, Nevadans witnessed the executive branch quickly lock up hundreds of thousands of acres of local, public land with an effortless stroke of the pen. No matter which political party is occupying the White House, these types of unilateral federal land grabs by the executive branch should not be allowed. Public input and local support remain critical to the decision-making process of federal land designations. This legislation prevents actions like last month’s Gold Butte land grab from occurring without input from Congress and local officials. I’d like to thank Congressman Amodei for his partnership on this bill.”

One hurdle for this proposal may be that all four of Nevada’s current Democratic members of the Washington delegation expressed support for Obama’s Gold Butte land grab.

Whatever one’s opinion on the end result, wouldn’t it be preferable for Nevadans to have a say in how the land here is used, instead of having it crammed down our throats?

A version of this editorial appeared this week in some of the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel,  Sparks Tribune and the Lincoln County Record.

Editorial: Universal gun background check law unenforceable

Question 1 has been impaled on a Catch-22.

You remember Question 1, don’t you? It was on all the ballots in Nevada and passed with a mere 50.45 percent of the vote, failing in every county except Clark. It requires almost all private sales or transfers of firearms to be cleared by a criminal background check. Failure to comply would result in up to a year in jail and a $2,000 fine.

But Attorney General Adam Laxalt’s office has opined that the drafters of Question 1 were too smart for their own good and created a law that cannot, at this time, be enforced, because the federal agency that is specifically required by the law to carry out said background checks refuses to do so.

The ballot summary stated: “The background check would be conducted using the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) administered by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), and the federally-licensed dealer would be able to charge a reasonable fee for conducting the background check and facilitating the firearm transfer between unlicensed persons.”

But earlier this month the official in charge of the FBI’s criminal background check system sent the state a letter saying his office would not conduct those background checks because Nevada is one of the many states that has entered into a sort of mutual aid pact in which the state becomes the Point of Contact for background checks. The state Department of Public Safety is given access to the NICS data bank and uses that and its own resources to conduct background checks for firearm sales.

The head of NICS said a state law cannot require a federal agency to expend resources and it will not.

Since the law specifies that background checks must be conducted through the NICS, the Department of Public Safety is prohibited from conducting the background check, the AG opinion states.

“The FBI’s refusal to carry out the central function required by the Act effectuates an unconditional ban, at present, on all private firearm sales or transfers in Nevada,” the opinion concludes. “Criminal conviction, the only method by which the Act may be enforced according to its terms, is the ostensible penalty for selling or transferring a firearm in violation of this unintended ban. As a matter of due process, this makes the Act unenforceable as a criminal law. The Nevada Supreme Court long ago adopted the doctrine that the law does not require impossible acts. When a law imposes a requirement that cannot be performed, a party is relieved of compliance until the obstacle to performance is lifted.”

Catch-22.

The law specifies one and only one method for conducting criminal background checks, thus prohibiting the state from doing so. Therefore, the law is unenforceable.

In his book of the same name this is how Joseph Heller explained Catch-22: A doctor said a certain pilot could be grounded from flying World War II combat missions because he was crazy, but first he would have to ask to be grounded, which would indicate he is sane, because only an insane person would willingly fly dangerous missions.

“There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one’s safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind,” Heller wrote. “Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn’t, but if he was sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn’t have to; but if he didn’t want to he was sane and had to.”

Here is how the AG opinion signed by Bureau Chief Gregory Zunino further explains it: “Here, similarly, while the Act imposes a duty on every Nevadan who seeks to privately sell or transfer a firearm, the Act has also created an obstacle — wholly beyond their control or that of the State itself — that currently presents them from meeting that duty. As a consequence, a law that the voters clearly intended to impose mere conditions upon the private sale or transfer of a firearm now operates as a total ban, clearly at odds with the intent of voters. When criminal penalties are threatened, the doctrine against requiring impossibilities is strengthened by due process and other constitutional guarantees. It is manifestly unjust to criminally penalize someone for failing to perform an act that is impossible to perform.”

We hope this law just disappears down the rabbit hole from whence it came.

A version of this editorial appeared this week in some of the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel,  Sparks Tribune and the Lincoln County Record.

Newspaper column: Congress or Trump could undo Gold Butte monument designation

There is a word for what President Obama did this past week in declaring Gold Butte a national monument: dictatorial.

In just more than a year Obama has unilaterally declared off-limits to productive economic uses 1 million acres of Nevada land — first the 700,000-acre Basin and Range National Monument straddling the border between Lincoln and Nye counties and now the 300,000-acre Gold Butte National Monument in rural northeast Clark County.

This brings Obama’s total protected acreage to 550 million — more than any predecessor and twice that set aside by Teddy Roosevelt under the Antiquities Act of 1906 — though much of Obama’s designations are underwater.

Obama’s designation of both Nevada national monuments completely ignored local elected officials and nearby residents, even though the Federal Land Policy Act of 1976 (flippantly know by the acronym Flip Ma) and the National Environment Policy Act (NEPA) require environmental reviews and public comments.

Gold butte

Gold butte

Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt called Obama’s action a unilateral land grab.  “Although I am not surprised by the president’s actions, I am deeply disappointed at his last minute attempt to cement his environmental legacy by undermining local control of Nevada’s communities, and damaging our jobs and economy,” Laxalt stated in a press release.

Sen. Dean Heller said he was terribly disappointed by Obama’s action, saying such action should be conducted in an open public process with congressional input.

Retiring Sen. Harry Reid urged Obama to declare Gold Butte a monument before leaving office no matter what the local residents thought, and his hand-picked successor, Catherine Cortez Masto, sent out a tweet about Obama’s action saying, “We have an obligation to protect places like Gold Butte. I’m grateful for President Obama’s dedication to preserving our public lands.

The area’s newly elected Democratic Rep. Ruben Kihuen was all for the designation. “As a Nevadan I couldn’t be more thrilled that President Obama decided recently to give Gold Butte, Nevada’s piece of the Grand Canyon, the full protection it deserves,” Kihuen said in a statement. “This newest national monument designation in Nevada means that we now have the tools to properly safeguard Gold Butte’s thousands of awe-inspiring rock formations, ancient petroglyphs, and rare wildlife for all Nevadans to enjoy.”

Though resigned to the probability of the Gold Butte designation, Gov. Brian Sandoval said he worked to assure the local communities would continue to have access to water resources. He said he met with the White House and his staff held follow-up meetings.

“We also worked with the White House and Department of Interior to ensure Nevada water law is adhered to and that the Virgin Valley Water District would have access to its water infrastructure for continued development and maintenance,” the governor related.

In the official presidential declaration there is language referring to “existing” water rights, meaning that it is unlikely any new water resources could be developed for future needs since “no new rights-of-way shall be authorized within the monument.”

Additionally, the proclamation says no grazing rights have been permitted on the land since 1998 and no grazing permits will be allowed within the monument.

Sandoval tried to be hopeful, ““My priority was to mitigate any disruption a potential designation may cause the surrounding private land owners, communities and recreationists. We all share a common goal of enacting smart conservation measures which help preserve our lands for the use and enjoyment of all Nevadans. My strong preference is for a more collaborative process when making such an important designation. I firmly believe our ranchers, environmentalists, and community stakeholders are the best experts in ensuring Nevada’s lands are preserved, protected and accessible. I also believe that with this designation comes duties, responsibilities and an expectation that the BLM will properly manage the area and commit the funds necessary to do so.”

Though the White House blatantly declared that President-elect Donald Trump cannot undo the creation of this and other monuments, the Congressional Review Act allows a simple majority of each house of Congress to revoke such decisions. It has rarely been successfully used since the president who issued the decision can veto an act of Congress and that takes two-thirds to override. The difference this time is that Trump takes office on Jan. 20.

Also Trump could simply rescind the monument designation, but he has been waffling on whether locals should have more say on federal land issues.

Also, the Nevada Washington delegation is now two-thirds Democrats, who are beholding only to urban Las Vegas.

A version of this column appeared this week in many of the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel and the Lincoln County Record — and the Elko Daily Free Press.

When money is no object ask the government for it

Faraday Future prototype on display. (Reuters photo)

Faraday Future prototype on display. (Reuters photo)

If you have to ask you can’t afford it.

The story in the morning paper about the unveiling at a local convention of the prototype for Faraday Future’s electric car that is supposed to be built at a factory in North Las Vegas was full of numbers.

The plant is to cost $1 billion. The car’s range will be 378 miles on a charge. It will generate 1,050 horsepower. Nevada ponied up $215 million in tax breaks and improvement projects. (Well, actually that was $215 million in tax abatements and credits, plus another  $120 million in infrastructure that includes water, rail and road improvements that may include widening I-15 and improving the freeway interchange near the Apex industrial park. But what’s a few hundred million in tax money?) You can reserve one by depositing $5,000.

But the story never says what the cost of the car will be.

Reuters is reporting that the tricked out FF 91, as it is dubbed — replete with holograms, sensors, cameras and radar — will be priced, according to insiders, at $180,000. That’s even higher than the high-end Tesla, which is getting $1.3 billion in tax exemptions and credits for promising to build a battery plant in Northern Nevada.

That’s right, your tax money is going to support the possible construction of cars you can never in your wildest dreams of avarice afford, even if they ever get built. Ain’t socialism grand?

Maybe if Faraday Future finds enough suckers to part with $5,000 deposits it can actually pay its contractors to build that factory.