Vegas, baby! It’s Paradise. Not metaphorically either, this literally isn’t the city of Las Vegas — look at a map and you’ll see the name Paradise — and when you visit and check the weather: same thing. Here is Las Vegas and here is Paradise which contains *nearly everything* people associate with Las Vegas including the sign. Now, you might think Paradise is just a relatively unknown city mistaken for its larger neighbor, like elsewhere, but Paradise isn’t a city at all: it’s an unincorporated place.
What’s that? Quick government recap: citizens living in a city have to follow the rules of the city, and also those of the county, and also, the state, and also the nation. It’s a government layer cake.
And each layer collects its own taxes to enforce its own rules. If some folk find these layers oppressive, they can hitch their wagons and head for open lands outside the borders of any city — to live like the rugged individualists they are — free of rules. Well, except for those of the nation, and also the state, and also the county — but moving outside a city, there’s one fewer ‘and also’ layer because they are in an unincorporated place. But if they make it nice and the population grows, inevitably people want police and sewers and schools and rules.
And soon, a charter is written, a mayor elected and a city incorporated. What makes Paradise weird is that unlike most unincorporated places that contain mostly blowing tumbleweeds and perhaps a yurt where nobody wants to live, there are almost a quarter million residents in Paradise in a space the size of Disney World. That density is *way* past the point you’d expect people to incorporate a city.
And it’s not like Paradiseians just couldn’t bother, Paradise is almost unique in being *officially* unincorporated … so… why? It started with the Mormons who first settled these lands in the 1880s… actually no — jump cut to: 1950! When we still tested out nuclear bombs in the open, near population centers. Nevada^† recently legalized gambling and a casino empire grew in Vegas.
Well — *just* outside of it to avoid city taxes. As for necessary services, the casinos were rich enough to provide their own notably, using their security forces as de facto police. Which might not sound on the up and up, but this was the mob running things — and of course they don’t any more.
Actually, really, they don’t, it’s all run by about two companies now.^‡ Anyway, the official City of Las Vegas in the 1950s was on the verge of bankruptcy — and with profitable casinos touching its border, the mayor was all like, ‘who are you kidding?, this is totally part of Las Vegas because I say so, and you’re going to pay Las Vegas taxes.’ The Casinos said ‘no’. There was a dispute that only the county, the next level of government up, could resolve.
The casinos, by the way, payed taxes to the county direct. So *shockingly* the county told Vegas, *no* you can’t annex this land and tax its businesses just because you want to. And to prevent Vegas from trying anything funny in the future the county created the officially, unofficially, unincorporated place named Paradise.^§ Everything that happens within it’s borders, the actual city of Las Vegas has no control over –here the county rules and sets lower taxes of all sorts, which is why when new casinos are built, it’s generally in Paradise not Las Vegas.
But if all this makes you think that the origin of Paradise was just some kind of city-sized tax dodge… you’re right! This episode is brought to you by Audible.com– who has over a hundred-and-eighty-thousand audiobooks for you to listen to. I listen to *a lot* of audiobooks every year, and I use Audible to do it. And I am going to recommend to you the book that I listened to on my most recent vacation to Las Vegas, which was “The Graveyard Book” by Neil Gaiman. It’s a fictional story, so I don’t really want to give any spoilers — let’s just say that Neil Gaiman is an excellent storyteller and he has an excellent narrating voice to go along with it. And he really lends personalities to all of the characters that he creates, in the unique way that only an author can.
If you are looking for a fun, enjoyable story; this one gets my thumbs up! Go to Audible.com/grey and you can listen to it for free or any other audiobook that you want for free, and get a 30-day trial. So, go to Audible.com/grey, that’s G-R-E-Y, to get your free audiobook — Make it “The Graveyard Book” perhaps and a 30-day trial. If you’ve never gotten into the world of audiobooks, now is the time to try it. Now before you go around correcting everybody that your vacation was in Paradise, not Las Vegas, Las Vegas city and Paradise are both in Las Vegas Valley, so you can say you went to Las Vegas, while never setting foot in Las Vegas, and still be technically correct that you went to Las Vegas.