Ron Knecht: Optimism, pessimism, legacies and being a father

Ron Knecht

Ron Knecht

The last 17 years have taught me some important lessons previous decades didn’t. Being a parent will do that to you.

Before our daughter was born, I focused on political activism, athletics, building a strong professional career, enjoying life as a single yuppie in San Francisco’s Marina district, being a good citizen and then being a good husband, as well as son, sibling and in-law. Even in all those roles, it was mainly about me and what I could achieve, become, contribute, create and enjoy.

After our daughter Karyn arrived in 2001, I began to focus on what legacy I, our family and our society would leave her and all America’s children and grandchildren. Things became more about them than us.

Due to great economic growth in the 1980s and 1990s and a resurgence in limited government libertarian conservative principles in politics, it was easy to be optimistic and hopeful about the legacy we would leave.

Our family became California refugees and moved to Nevada, where my professional career continued to blossom and I got seriously into politics by being elected to the Legislature and then the Board of Regents. A young daughter and serving in those roles focused me on leaving the next generation the kind of inspiring legacy our parents and previous generations left us.

It was still possible to be optimistic about that as the Great Recession unfolded like a slow-motion train wreck. But then we elected one of our worst-ever presidents, a dishonest, smug cynic who peddled false post-racial unity and hope, plus unspecified transformation while privately despising America and Americans. When he revealed that his promised transformation was destructive identity politics, collectivist coercion everywhere and leading from behind, the outlook turned grim.

Barack Obama, his goofy advisers and fellow Democrats were outed as the rubes they are for thinking they could impose virtual socialism as a solution to the recession. By 2011, it was clear their stupid collectivist coercion was piling the greatest non-recovery ever on top of the long, deep recession. Dealing with a downbeat economy and outlook as a regent and state economist, it became apparent we were crafting a legacy as a society that was the opposite of the hope, growth and opportunity our parent and grandparents bequeathed us.

Becoming controller in 2015, I had a statutory duty to promote frugality and economy, better management of Nevada’s fiscal affairs and better understanding of all that. So, I wrote my first controller’s annual report with specific analyses and suggestions and an extensive assessment of the grim economic outlook and reasons for it. All four of my annual reports focused increasingly on righting the legacy we’ll be leaving.

The election of President Donald Trump fostered some hope as well as anxiety. While there have been some downsides to his administration, the key substantive issues have been resolved much better than one might have hoped.

He delivered a great start on reversing the regulatory excesses of the federal government. He and congressional Republicans delivered the first major tax reform in 30 years, and it plus regulatory reform may be getting our economy back on track despite continued government overreach, trade mis-steps and various adverse economic and demographic trends.

His thoughtful and principled judicial appointments have been a huge tonic for our society and hope for the future. Likewise, some notable successes in foreign affairs.

The hate-driven and corrupt Mueller investigation revealed that claims of Trump Russian collusion were lies. That and the Democrats’ monstrous vendetta’s against Trump, aided by the completely compromised lamestream media, have unraveled as we learn the real Russian collusion was promulgated by the Clinton campaign and their thoroughly corrupt allies in the justice department, FBI, CIA and media.

But the empire strikes back as the new congressional Democrat majority is doubling down on all this, cheered on by the New York Times, CNN, Washington Post, HuffPost, AOL, MSNBC, etc. The good news is they seem to be so much overplaying their hand and they have such a weak group of candidates, they may get Trump re-elected.

I’m optimistic and hopeful by nature, and things may be turning around. But only if we redouble our efforts on our society’s legacy.

Ron Knecht has served Nevada as state controller, a higher education regent, legislator and economist. Contact him at


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