January 31st, 2011
12:44 PM ET

Letters to the President #742 'Still fear and loathing'

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Reporter's Note: The government will release new unemployment numbers later this week, and lately that has been cause for people in DC to hold their breath; kind of like the president must do every day when he sees my letter! Ha!

Dear Mr. President,

I am writing to you today from the great state of Nevada. We are here on our latest Building Up America trip, and I must say it has already been an eye-opener.

Over the past couple of months as I have looked at unemployment reports, and foreclosure rates, and all those other indicators, I’ve noted many times that the Silver State is pretty much the gold standard for terrible times right now. Unemployment here has been pushing up toward 15 percent. The gambling business is down; tourism is in the tank; construction is staggering. But to be here on the ground and see the results firsthand is truly disturbing.

Now, don’t get me wrong: This is still a great vacation destination for people who are looking for all the bright lights and excitement that Las Vegas has always meant. The Strip is still glittering and gaudy, and you can still find big shows and big crowds flocking to see them any night of the week. But the crowds just aren’t as big as they were. And they seem to be sitting on their wallets more.

So the less money the tourists spend, the less the locals have. The less the locals spend, the less jobs business owners can support. And on and on it goes. As you make your way around town you can see the results. Sure there are plenty of businesses that look busy and fine, but I went on a long run and I was struck by how many other places were closed up and dark. Many of them leave all their signs in place so it looks like they are still in operation, but when you get closer you see that they are empty shells…like a Hollywood set depicting a thriving town.

People here are trying to do something about it. We’ve talked to business, political, and education leaders who really are doing all they can to attract other companies; high tech, green energy, film and video production; anything they can lay their hands on that might create work. But we’ve also talked to working folks who, at least at the moment, are pretty skeptical that any of those clever plans will produce any real results any time soon.

I know that you’ll be plenty busy watching the events in Egypt this week, and I can’t blame you if you are preoccupied a bit. But being here has already been a stark reminder of just how much trouble many of our fellow Americans are in, and how that has to remain priority number one as long as it takes until things are better. Because you can see it easily here: When the economy stops working, everything and everyone suffers, no matter how much they try to put on a brave face.

We’ll be doing reports from Nevada all week, introducing many of the wonderful and clever folks here. I hope you get a chance to see some of the reports. And, as always, call if you can.


soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. jeanette

    Did I miss something here? We go all over the world fighting in countries that hate us,
    trying to make themm see the how right we are
    about democracy. Here we have a country that
    has tremendous use to us and the world begging
    for freedom and we stand by and say NOTHING and
    do NOTHING. This is the start of the new, young
    thnking that will change the world. Can no one
    see the impact that this will have on Iran?

    February 1, 2011 at 1:45 am |
  2. penn

    Why will America spend much needed funds on an election. That money should go towards fixing our health care system. The Gop will spend our hard earned tax dollars on those idiots to get rid of a great man and a great president. They show such disdain towards our American president. They will spin this country out of control literally. Most of the GOP are blue hairs who might put another GWBush in office. Just put President Obama back in office. America does not need another IDIOT for the president.

    January 31, 2011 at 8:51 pm |
  3. jerry z.

    These people desirve a fair goverment and human rights. But way are we sending a billon + dollars and tear gas ???? over ever year. We could use that money here in the U.S. to make jobs and keep people from loosing their homes ???? It seems as if we are not getting the whole story. I wonder if any country has ever given the U.S. a billon + dollars ever!!!! I hope these people get treated fairly and are not shot and killed !!!! Jerry Z.

    January 31, 2011 at 4:49 pm |
  4. Sunny

    I hope you will be visiting northern Nevada, too. Foreclosures are widespread here, too. In my neighbor, ever two or three blocks a home is empty and heaven only knows how many are in foreclosure. There are no jobs. Heaven forbid if you're over 40 because hiring managers don't want to talk to you. And the State of Nevada Foreclosure Mediation Process is helpful in delaying foreclosure, however, loan mods are difficult to obtain. And, in the court system, well, there's a California judge sitting in via some kind of video connection in the Bankruptcy court who doesn't seem to know or care about robo-signers, chain of title, or helping homeowners keep their homes. We've been abandoned and terror grips our hearts.

    January 31, 2011 at 3:35 pm |