Good ideas come in bunches

You know how much I enjoy bringing you clever and practical ideas that can help solve the problems of the world.

So I've been putting my brain to this whole budget-and-tax impasse at the Nevada Legislature. If I can help out, why not?

Here's what I've come up with: Some people think taxes already are too high and they don't want to pay more. Other people think state government is shorting residents on service, and taxes should be raised to pay for them.

Not a problem.

Anybody who wants to pay higher taxes, go right ahead.

Oh, you think this is a silly idea. So do I. But I happen to know that such proposals have cropped up in Pennsylvania, Kansas, Alaska and Oregon from politicians who can't stand the thought -- or the damage at the polls -- of raising taxes.

Believe it or not, this movement is called "Tax Me More."

Yeah, sounds like something that might be sponsored by the Masochism Foundation.

In Pennsylvania, state Rep. Jeff Coleman has actually introduced such legislation. It's modeled after a fund set up by Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee in 2001, when that state was facing a $142 million deficit.

One has to wonder if anyone would actually be dumb enough to voluntarily send in more tax dollars than they owe.

Well, not many. But some. The Arkansas fund has accumulated something like $3,000 so far.

OK, so "Tax Me More" may not be an idea that actually works. Nevada needs about $860 million over the next two years. But how will we know unless we try?

Another bright idea, from a co-worker here at the Appeal. He wants to know where he can buy a bumper sticker that reads, "Don't blame me. I voted for Joe Neal."

On the terrorism front comes a fresh idea from Jay Walker, the guy who invented Priceline, the Internet site where you can try to buy airline tickets on the cheap.

Walker suggests we set up Webcams at all those remote, unprotected potential targets of terrorism -- places like power plants, refineries, dams.

Then he would hire people at $10 an hour to sit at their computers at home and monitor a steady stream of pictures taken of these places.

If nothing happens, the "citizen spotter" simply clicks onto the next picture. But if there's something fishy going on, then he can click a button and alert a central command center to investigate.

It could work. Or, as noted by columnist Lee Gomes, it could just be goofy. "It seems to me that he has come up with a minimally effective way of preventing a bunch of high-school kids from parking their van by the reservoir and getting stoned," writes Gomes.

I think we should just mount Webcams on the front of teenagers' vans.

Remember the good idea I wrote about a few weeks ago -- Spike TV, the first television network for men?

What happened to Spike TV? It was supposed to launch June 16, but as you flip through the channels you notice that it's still The National Network, even though they changed the programming and they're playing up the "network for men" angle.

As it turns out, poor Viacom, the company that owns the network, is getting sued by Spike Lee, the director of movies such as "Do the Right Thing."

It seems Lee believes he has a right to all things Spike, so he wants a cut of the action. He managed to get a preliminary injunction that is preventing Viacom from using the Spike TV name.

As Viacom's court response pointed out ... um, aren't there other people named Spike? Like Spike Jones, the bandleader. Like Spike Jonze, the video maker. Like Spike Owen, the former baseball player.

Aren't there spikes in football, baseball and volleyball? Isn't your neighbor's bulldog named Spike?

Here's the better idea: tort reform.

I signed up this week for the federal "do not call" list, which is the best idea to come from the federal government since it ended Prohibition. On the Internet, go to to get off the telemarketing lists. Or you can call 1-888-382-1222. The list goes into effect Oct. 1. I don't know what I'll do with all the spare time I have not checking the Caller ID to see it's a number I don't want to answer.

Now for the next good idea: An outfit in Maryland called the Center for a New American Dream is pushing for Congress to set up a similar registry for junk mail.

"At long last, Americans can eat dinner free from the incessant harangue of telemarketers," said New Dream Executive Director Diane Wood. "We should also be able to open our mailboxes with similar peace of mind."

I don't know if they'll be able to get that past the U.S. Postal Service, but next up should be the "do not spam" registry for e-mail. Get them all going and life will be perfect. Well, better anyway.

Barry Smith is editor of the Nevada Appeal.


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