"Errors of Enchantment" Latest Blog Postings

Study ranks New Mexico poorly on ease of access to doctors’ information

Do you want to find out if your doctor has been disciplined by the medical board, the feds, or has faced a high number of malpractice cases? In New Mexico, you may be out of luck. Of course, we at Rio Grande Foundation (like Milton Friedman before us) had little use for government-mandated professional licensing.

Recently, I sat down with KRQE Channel 13 to discuss a new report from Consumer Reports that ranked state medical licensing boards on their public disclosure on websites etc. of information relating to disciplinary actions taken against doctors as well as malpractice payouts and criminal convictions. Neither of New Mexico’s licensing boards performed particularly well in the report (osteopathic or the regular medical board). You can check out the study for yourself on pages 26-28 of the report.

Watch the full interview which aired earlier this week below:

Response to Quigley and his “white paper”

In today’s Albuquerque Journal, liberal columnist Winthrop Quigley cited a “white paper” by some of his friends in the field of economics. He relies on statements contained in this paper to again call for higher taxes and to, theoretically refute a recent RGF column written to counteract Quigley’s calls for higher taxes.

Quigley did not include a link to the new “white paper” in his column either in print or online. There is nothing at the UNM Bureau of Economic Research page as of this posting. Nothing contained in this paper has been shared with me or anyone at RGF. I have reached out to Jim Peach at NMSU (a co-author of this white paper) who I know personally as well as Quigley himself to obtain a copy. Until we receive the actual critique of our work, it is hard to even formulate a response (rest assured, we’ll push for the ABQ Journal to give us such a response).

Anyway, at least from looking at Quigley’s article in today’s paper, he brings up some interesting points that one could argue mean NM does not spend as much and as a somewhat less bloated workforce relative to other states than we argue, but he fails to provide specific data or analysis to justify his arguments. More importantly, he doesn’t even attempt to make an economic argument that higher taxes would be beneficial or are necessary to improve New Mexico’s economy.

All that said, we do agree that eliminating loopholes and flattening the rate of New Mexico’s gross receipts tax would be good things.

April Brings Showers of Jobs to RTW States

Errors of Enchantment Blog Postings - Wed, 2016-05-04 09:24

The Foundation is tracking announcements of expansions, relocations, and greenfield investments published on Area Development‘s website. Founded in 1965, the publication “is considered the leading executive magazine covering corporate site selection and relocation. … Area Development is published quarterly and has 60,000 mailed copies.” In an explanation to the Foundation, its editor wrote that items for Area Development‘s announcements listing are “culled from RSS feeds and press releases that are emailed to us from various sources, including economic development organizations, PR agencies, businesses, etc. We usually highlight ones that represent large numbers of new jobs and/or investment in industrial projects.”

In April, of 11,468 projected jobs, 8,792 — 76.7 percent — were slated for right-to-work (RTW) states:

The non-RTW figure was highly skewed by Amazon’s choice of New Jersey for two new fulfillment centers, and 2,000 jobs. Take that one investment out of the analysis, and RTW would have grabbed 92.9 percent of all projected employment.

As is usually the case, no projects are to be located in New Mexico.

Twelve domestic companies based in non-RTW states announced investments in RTW states. Just one announcement went the other way.

RTW prevailed in foreign direct investment, too. Seventeen projects are headed to RTW states, with five to occur in non-RTW states.

Two relocations went from non-RTW states to RTW states. None journeyed from RTW to non-RTW.

Marquee RTW wins included a manufacturing facility in Florida for OneWeb Satellites, a company building a “satellite based communications network capable of delivering internet connectivity globally” (250 jobs), the decision by New Jersey-based Creston Electronics to “attract top talent in R&D, customer support, engineering, manufacturing and IT support” in Texas (275 jobs), and India-based Aurobindo Pharma’s choice of North Carolina for a “state-of-the-art national headquarters for specialty pharmaceutical R&D” (275 jobs).

Methodological specifics:

* All job estimates — “up to,” “as many as,” “about” — were taken at face value, for RTW and non-RTW states alike.

* If an announcement did not make an employment projection, efforts were made to obtain an estimate from newspaper articles and/or press releases from additional sources.

* If no job figure could be found anywhere, the project was not counted, whether it was a RTW or non-RTW state.

* Intrastate relocations were not counted, interstate relocations were.

ART Boondoggle Now Faces Legal Scrutiny

Errors of Enchantment Blog Postings - Mon, 2016-05-02 14:14

For nearly two years, skeptics, critics and opponents have assembled an impressive arsenal of arguments against Albuquerque Rapid Transit, the proposed dedicated busway along Central Avenue.

The mayor, seven of nine city councilors and the city’s transportation bureaucrats don’t care.

Adamantly committed to the project, and unpersuaded by intense public opposition and a plethora of policy-grounded objections, ART’s overseers have forged ahead. They’ve dedicated municipal-bond revenue to the busway. They’ve asked for, and secured, White House approval for $69 million in federal subsidies. And they had planned to begin construction in May.

But last month, two significant obstacles to ART emerged. One lawsuit, filed in state court, lists a number of small businesses and residents as plaintiffs. Another, filed in federal court, is backed by the “Coalition of Concerned Citizens to Make ART Smart,” an “unincorporated association,” as well as Jean and Marc Bernstein, the owners of the Flying Star restaurants.

The state complaint filed last month said Route 66 is “one of the most historic and well-known iconic roads in the U.S.,” and ART will impact “over 150 places on the National Historic Register.” The National Historic Preservation Act “requires that any federally funded undertaking” consider the impact on “any site, building, structure or object that is included in or eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places,” the suit said. But the analysis of ART’s threat to history was perfunctory, the suit alleged. Plaintiffs requested “a full review of Historic Landmarks and the impact of the project there-on rather than the illegal cursory indication that no significant impacts would occur with regard to Historic Properties.” In addition, the complaint charged that ART would “constitute a complete nuisance and interference with the rights of the existing businesses to continue to contract with their customers and to function.”

The state complaint is strong. Its federal counterpart is stronger. The federal lawsuit charges that the city misrepresented the facts when it asked the Federal Transit Administration for an exemption to the requirement that ART account for its environmental footprint. Central Avenue isn’t known for rich wildlife, but the issue isn’t biology — traffic congestion, traffic patterns, economic vitality and the like, in an urban area must be assessed. Yet Washington approved the city’s request for an exclusion.

It gets worse. In its request to relax environmental scrutiny, according to the federal suit, the city answered “no” to the question: “Is the project likely to generate intense public discussion, concern or controversy, even though it may be limited to a relatively small subset of the community?” Whoa. Last summer, when the city applied for its exemption, the city was well aware of mounting citizen and business opposition. (And since then, resistance has only intensified.)

The federal complaint tacks on a number of other counts, including (like the state case) violation of the National Historic Preservation Act; violation of the state-level Prehistoric and Historic Sites Preservation Act; and nonconformity with the city’s “Complete Streets Ordinance,” which mandates that “the need to move vehicles efficiently” must be balanced with “placemaking, pedestrian-friendliness, historic preservation and economic development,” according to the suit.

We’ve long known that ART is wrong for Albuquerque. The corridor doesn’t have anywhere near the population density to support bus rapid transit. The project would severely reduce mobility by creating more traffic congestion, and is all but certain to put many Central Avenue restaurants and shops out of business. And Washington is nearly insolvent, with no surplus funds to spend on a dubious transit project in a city suffering from a high crime rate and subpar job growth.

Thanks to the state and federal lawsuits, we now know that ART has an even darker side. The city’s proposed busway likely violated federal law, a state statute and a local ordinance. Albuquerque’s residents and businesses should not have had to resort to the courts to block a proposal that’s sure to prove disastrous to both transportation and economic development in their struggling city. But let’s hope that the legal actions, however costly and time-consuming, help put a permanent end to Albuquerque’s budding bus boondoggle.

D. Dowd Muska is research director of New Mexico’s Rio Grande Foundation, an independent, nonpartisan, tax-exempt research and educational organization.

A Deficit No-Brainer: Cutting Welfare to Hollywood

Errors of Enchantment Blog Postings - Mon, 2016-05-02 11:26

Layoffs at Intel, out-of-control Medicaid expenditures, and oil still below revenucrats’s target price. New Mexico is in dangerous fiscal territory.

Can we cut welfare for Hollywood — and its unions — finally?

Dead-ender proponents of “film and television incentives” never tire of defending their faith-based policy. (Last week the Albuquerque Journal claimed that “New Mexico in general and Albuquerque in particular can thank television and film productions for keeping the local economies real.”) But facts are stubborn things, and the latest federal data are discouraging. In the third quarter of 2012, New Mexico’s employment in NAICS 51211, motion picture and video production, averaged 2,280. Three years later, it averaged 2,059.

The spectacular, and costly, failure to build a viable, sustainable entertainment industry in New Mexico surely ranks among the worst corporatist boondoggles perpetrated by the state’s taxpayer-compensated proponents of “economic development.” As legislators and the governor consider budget cuts for the fiscal year that starts July 1, the first place to start is a no-brainer.

‘Keep It in the Ground’ — And Wreck New Mexico

Errors of Enchantment Blog Postings - Fri, 2016-04-29 09:46

Have you heard of “Keep It in the Ground”? It’s the latest eco-left assault on coal, oil, and natural gas, and it’s a missile aimed right at the heart of New Mexico’s economy and fiscal health.

According to The Atlantic‘s CityLab: “The explicit language of ‘keep it in the ground’ appears in a letter written by 400 green advocates requesting that President Obama cut off drilling on federal lands. A bill with that name sits in the U.S. Senate … . The websites of leading environmental groups like the Sierra Club and Greenpeace proclaim Keep It in the Ground as a top priority for fighting climate change.”

Earlier this week, the reality-based analysts at the Institute for Energy Research examined KIITG, and found that the campaign “hurts our economy” and “imperils our health and well-being.”

“Exploring the Dangers of the Keep it in the Ground Campaign” looks at the issue from a national perspective, so let’s focus on the impact on New Mexico. Over 30 percent of the state’s general fund is derived from hydrocarbon taxes, royalties, and fees. As reported by the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department, 56 percent of New Mexico’s oil production is on federal lands. For natural gas, the share is 63 percent.

End energy production on “public” property, and New Mexico’s already-fragile economy would go into a horrific tailspin. KIITG represents a dire threat to the Land of Enchantment.

Millennials are rejecting (blank) economics

Errors of Enchantment Blog Postings - Thu, 2016-04-28 16:37

The headline from  Washington Post blogger Catherine Rampell is “Millennials are increasingly rejecting voodoo economics.” Now, the term “voodoo economics” was inaugurated in 1980 by then-presidential candidate George HW Bush.

It was a slam against Ronald Reagan’s “supply side” tax cutting strategy which, while I’m not necessarily in the “supply side” camp has proven far more successful than Obama’s “tax and spend” policies:

The blog further goes on to state that, “Compared with responses from the past few years, today’s 18-to-29-year-olds are more likely to believe “basic health insurance is a right for all people,” “basic necessities, such as food and shelter, are a right that government should provide to those unable to afford them,” and “the government should spend more to reduce poverty.”

In other words, there is a reason these people are voting for avowed socialist Bernie Sanders. Too many young people don’t understand basic economics.

While I believe that economic deregulation and spending restraint MUST be a part of any serious economic policy that spurs economic growth, a strong majority of economists surveyed by CNN back in 2010 believed that cutting taxes was the best single way for Congress to improve the economy. That’s far better than the response even liberal economists gave to Bernie Sanders’/Millennial economic ideas:

Medicaid: More of the Same

Errors of Enchantment Blog Postings - Wed, 2016-04-27 14:46

The state’s healthcare program for “the poor,” expanded by Governor Martinez under Obamacare, is spewing a river of red ink. Medicaid is projected to generate a deficit of $417 million in the 2016 and 2017 fiscal years. And the future is likely to be even darker. By 2020, the state estimates that 43 percent of New Mexicans will be signed up for “free” healthcare.

To cut costs, the Human Services Department is proposing to “rescind previous reimbursement increases to nearly 2,000 general physicians and trim payment rates to hospitals by between 3 percent and 8 percent.” Obstetrics and preventive care would be exempt, but previous “rate increases also would be rolled back at 29 hospitals that receive supplemental payments to offset uncompensated care.”

Late last year, the Foundation explained to legislators in Santa Fe that nationally, “over half of providers no longer accept Medicaid patients,” and of the “doctors who do accept Medicaid, the provider networks are narrow and nearly one-third face wait times of over a month.” (Not surprisingly, the Health and Human Services Committee’s far-left members assured us that such conditions don’t prevail in New Mexico.)

With reimbursements likely to fall here, look for more providers to follow Farmington family physician Holly Abernethy, who The Wall Street Journal reported:

has turned away all newly eligible Medicaid beneficiaries because she can’t sustain her practice expenses if her proportion of Medicaid patients grows much beyond her current 13%.

For a moderately complex office visit, she is paid about the same as [a] nurse practitioner: about $80 from Medicaid and about $160 on average from commercial insurance.

Says Dr. Abernethy, “I would love to see every Medicaid patient that comes through my door. If you give people coverage, they should be able to utilize it.” But making it work would extend her workday, and “I have three small children and I miss them.”

A recent investigation by the Legislative Finance Committee uncovered average Medicaid wait times “from three weeks to nearly two months,” as well as “significantly fewer [primary care providers] accepting new Medicaid patients than has been reported by the [managed care organizations].”

Medicaid provides lousy services, and is an albatross around the necks of taxpaying New Mexicans. It’s time for the state to reverse its disastrous expansion, and work with other states to lobby Washington for meaningful reforms of a program that is completely out of control.

Absurdity in government: it’s a crime to ship dentures across state lines

Errors of Enchantment Blog Postings - Wed, 2016-04-27 08:32

To say that government policies are often absurd is to state the obvious, but one ridiculous federal law caught our attention recently: that is a federal law that makes it illegal to ship dentures across state lines.

Interestingly, this issue impacts two distinct areas that have gained RGF’s attention in recent months. The first is “dental therapists.” Dowd Muska wrote a piece about how New Mexico could deregulate dentistry slightly to improve the lives of thousands of New Mexicans. Obviously, the denture shipment law was meant to benefit a protected industry, not consumers who may have left their dentures in an hotel room in Topeka.

On the other hand, there is likely widespread ignorance of this law. So, imagine the surprise of a senior citizen getting busted by law enforcement for this ridiculous “crime.” It’s the kind of that might make average folks realize that the old adage “ignorance of the law is no excuse” is simply not realistic and that intent must be considered (mens rea).

RGF’s Gessing weighs in on de la Cruz Cannes “Economic Development” trip: Eye on New Mexico

Errors of Enchantment Blog Postings - Tue, 2016-04-26 22:57

On this week’s “Eye on New Mexico” on Channel 4, KKOB, Chris Ramirez talked to Commissioner de la Cruz and Marcos Gonzales of the Bernalillo County Economic Development Department about economic development and the Commissioner’s trip to France. My interview starts at the 4 minute mark and de la Cruz defends the $20K spent on the trip after that.

So far, the Commissioner admits that no specific projects have resulted from the trip. I’m sure we’ll be notified if that changes.

Dropping a Dime on ‘Public Servants’

Errors of Enchantment Blog Postings - Tue, 2016-04-26 13:15

States and cities, the Pew Research Center found, are launching apps that empower citizens and public employees to report waste, fraud, and abuse. While there have long been “hotlines for reporting misuse of government resources,” the new tech is adding “a new level of sophistication.” The smartphone-enabled systems “allow people to submit photos and videos in support of their claims; and in some cases auditors can use the app to respond and ask for follow-up information, all while maintaining a tipster’s anonymity.”

A quick search found that the Land of Enchantment doesn’t have any W/F/A apps in place. But the Office of the State Auditor’s division of Special Audits & Investigations takes tips via phone and a website. The New Mexico Human Services Department does the same, for “public assistance fraud” and “Medicaid provider fraud.” The Program and Network Integrity Department of OptumHealth, which “manages behavioral health services for New Mexico’s Behavioral Health Collaborative,” can be reached here. The City of Albuquerque’s Inspector General is online as well.

With governments at the city, county, and state levels facing mounting fiscal woes, New Mexicans can do their fellow taxpayers a solid by reporting the misuse of public resources. Waging war on W/F/A cannot be the sole answer to solvency issues — solutions include welfare reform, privatization, school choice, smart infrastructure spending, and public-sector compensation packages that are based on market realities — but it’s a start.

NM cultural issues and policy woes interrelated

Errors of Enchantment Blog Postings - Mon, 2016-04-25 13:20

It is one thing to criticize policies. It is another to criticize culture, but just today it is being reported that one in ten New Mexico children have a parent in jail.

Certainly, there are a number of policy ideas that can help alleviate that problem, and we at the Rio Grande Foundation spend most of our time focusing on the former, there is no doubt that New Mexico has some unique issues relating to culture. In some ways, culture is New Mexico’s greatest strength. Its unique history of Native, Hispanic, and Anglo mingling (not to mention other ethnic groups) is what makes this state so unique, but “culture” is means many things and as a new report by the Family Prosperity Initiative points out (see map below), New Mexico faces some unique “culture-related” problems.

The chart ranks all 50 states on Violent Crime‬, Property Crime‬, Unwed Births, Religion‬, and Education‬. One may quibble with the inclusion of Religion, but I think think the rest are self-explanatory as beneficial or harmful. Economic success can occur even in places with weak cultural indicators (Florida and Georgia to name two), but it would be great if New Mexico’s culture could shift in a way that supplemented the much-needed move towards freer markets.

 

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Happy Earth Day thanks to fossil fuels — Farmington, with TWO coal plants has nation’s cleanest air!

Errors of Enchantment Blog Postings - Fri, 2016-04-22 09:34

Today is Earth Day. And, no matter what you might prefer to think, fossil fuels have helped to dramatically improve and lengthen human lives. As the chart below shows, we will continue to rely on those fossil fuels for much of our energy consumption for decades into the future.

Interestingly while radical environmentalists love to trash coal as a “dirty” source of energy, Farmington, NM, which is adjacent to not one, but two power plants (Navajo and San Juan Generating Stations, was recently given extremely high marks for air quality by the American Lung Association. In fact, Farmington was:

  • Ranked 1 for cleanest metropolitan areas in the country for 24-hour particle pollution
  • Ranked 2 for cleanest metropolitan areas in the country for annual particle pollution

So, fossil fuels aren’t going anywhere. The good news is that living in close proximity to them doesn’t have a significant, negative impact on some major measures of air quality. And, these fossil fuels have probably been the single-largest factor in improving and lengthening human life on planet earth.

 

 

Free the unions to only represent their members!

Errors of Enchantment Blog Postings - Wed, 2016-04-20 14:27

We at the Rio Grande Foundation talk a lot  about the need for the Legislature to embrace the concept of “right to work.” The idea is that workers should be free to join or pay dues to a labor union. In response, unions argue that they should be able to extract money from workers who don’t wish to affiliate with them because those unions “have” to represent ALL workers in that bargaining unit.

But, as Vincent Vernuccio of the Michigan-based Mackinac Center points out in a new column at National Review Online, “unions have lobbied very hard for a monopoly on representing all workers — even non-members — because it gives them a stronger hand at the bargaining table.” The answer, writes Vernuccio, is for policymakers to “call the unions’ bluff” and adopt a policy called “worker’s choice” that would allow workers to represent themselves while freeing unions from having to support non-members.

The idea that a third party that you do not support financially or philosophically can legally insert itself between workers and their employers is just bizarre on its face and illustrates clearly that unions are not like any other non-governmental organizations insofar as they can forcibly insert themselves between two voluntary actors.

A perfect example of why an individual might want to negotiate their own salary came to us in the 2016 legislative session when the teachers’ unions successfully killed legislation allowing highly-trained “adjunct teachers” to teach in New Mexico classrooms. Even if the law were to be changed to allow those adjuncts, the union contracts would not be written in ways favorable to those teachers. Already, they would be forced to pay into a pension system that they’d never benefit from.

Ultimately, “worker’s choice” helps our educational system and workplaces in general go beyond on-size-fits-all approaches and allow workers to obtain the salary and benefits that make the most sense for them. And, if those “solo” workers miss out on union representation and feel that they are being taken advantage of by their employers, that will make them all the more likely to join and support the unions.

Sorry oil and gas producers, but free trade works both ways

Errors of Enchantment Blog Postings - Tue, 2016-04-19 15:44

With America now a net energy exporter and New Mexico a long-term energy producer, we at the Rio Grande Foundation have spent a fair amount of time supporting the opening of new markets for both oil and gas. Specifically, the Foundation worked to allow crude oil exports and liquefied natural gas exports.

Now, some oil and gas producers who have found that they are unable to compete with foreign competition, are working to impose limits on oil and gas imports. I don’t think they’ll have much success in Washington and I don’t think Gov. Martinez and the Legislature can do anything even if they want to (which I doubt they do), but this just doesn’t look good for an industry that typically prides itself on competing in a global marketplace and pricing its products in response to those market forces.

Americans are benefiting at the pump from the new technologies being deployed in the oil patch every time they fill up. They aren’t going to go for import limits to drive up the price. Worse, unfriendly (anti-oil and gas) lawmakers, and there are plenty, will use pleas for government protection to bully the industry even more than they already do.

In recent years the industry benefited from high prices and booming production due to new technologies. As an aside, this has already reduced the need to import oil into the US. Now, prices are down, but that will change. Asking for government protection is no way to restore market balance.  New Mexico oil and gas producers should abandon the idea immediately.

 

 

 

New “Climate Hustle” movie takes on global warming

Errors of Enchantment Blog Postings - Mon, 2016-04-18 14:08

A new movie being shown in Albuquerque (and around the nation) on one night only, Monday, May 2nd, aims to expose the corruption and pseudoscience being perpetuated by the United Nations, EPA, and Obama administration on the issue of climate change, renewable energy, and other big government environmental initiatives.

The name of the movie is Climate Hustle and it will be shown at the UA Cottonwood Stadium 16 in Albuquerque at 7pm on Thursday, May 2nd.

The documentary is produced by CFACT, the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow. CFACT is a Washington, D.C. based public policy group that has been on the frontlines battling liberal environmentalists for over 30 years. With the upcoming election, we thought it critical that we all have solid facts on environmental and energy issues in order to prevent the radical left from drastically changing this country.

Climate Hustle has been featured on “Hannity,” and has been touted by the National Review as “Brutal and extremely funny.”

To purchase tickets and view theater locations and times visit: www.climatehustle.com!

You can view the “Hannity” segment here:

And the trailer here:

Ilya Shapiro Luncheon: Justice Scalia’s Legacy and the Supreme Court’s Future — Albuquerque

Errors of Enchantment Blog Postings - Fri, 2016-04-15 14:43
Rio Grande Foundation Speaker Series Event:
Ilya Shapiro Discusses:
"The Scalia Legacy and the Future of the U.S. Supreme Court"

Click here for registration form.

The passing of Justice Antonin Scalia represented nothing less than the passing of an era in American jurisprudence. What is the judicial legacy of Scalia? How will his passing affect current and future Court decisions including the Friedrichs case on "Right to Work" for government employees?

What is the future of the Supreme Court?

Join us for lunch with Ilya Shapiro, Senior Fellow of Constitutional Studies at the Cato Institute. Ilya will discuss and analyze these and other important questions facing the nation and its highest Court.

  • Location:  Marriott Pyramid 5151 San Francisco Rd NE, Albuquerque, NM  87109
     
  • When:  Thursday, May 12, 2016, 12:00 noon to 1:00pm.
     
  • Cost:  Seating is limited and can be purchased at the discounted price of $30 until Thursday, May 5 2016; $40 after the 5th.

Ilya Shapiro is a senior fellow in constitutional studies at the Cato Institute and editor-in-chief of the Cato Supreme Court Review. Before joining Cato, he was a special assistant/adviser to the Multi-National Force in Iraq on rule-of-law issues and practiced at Patton Boggs and Cleary Gottlieb.

Shapiro is the co-author of Religious Liberties for Corporations? Hobby Lobby, the Affordable Care Act, and the Constitution (2014). He has contributed to a variety of academic, popular, and professional publications. He also regularly provides commentary for various media outlets, including CNN, Fox News, ABC, CBS, NBC, Univision and Telemundo, the Colbert Report, and NPR.

Shapiro lectures regularly on behalf of the Federalist Society, is a member of the Legal Studies Institute's board of visitors at The Fund for American Studies, was an inaugural Washington Fellow at the National Review Institute and a Lincoln Fellow at the Claremont Institute, and has been an adjunct professor at the George Washington University Law School. In 2015 National Law Journal named him to its list of 40 "rising stars" in the legal community.

Before entering private practice, Shapiro clerked for Judge E. Grady Jolly of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. He holds an AB from Princeton University, an MSc from the London School of Economics, and a JD from the University of Chicago Law School (where he became a Tony Pati&#ntilde;o Fellow).

I Like Chinese (Jobs)

Errors of Enchantment Blog Postings - Fri, 2016-04-15 12:04

This week the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations, working with the Rhodium Group, reported that in 2015, “Chinese investments in acquisitions, new operations, and expansions in the U.S. grew to more than $15 billion … setting a new record. The number of Chinese-affiliated companies in the U.S. exceeded 1,900 by year-end, extending across more than 80 percent of congressional districts.”

Some of that revenue made its way to the Land of Enchantment: “New Mexico received its first significant Chinese investments in 2015, including three Red Lion Hotels in Farmington, Gallup (both NM-03), and Grants (NM-02).” A broad trend that is likely to impact trade-connected jobs here is the growth of China’s middle class, which is “increasingly eager to travel overseas.”

Trade is one of the few bright spots in New Mexico’s economy. As the Albuquerque Journal reported last year, jobs related to the export of goods “more than doubled from 7,986 in 2009 to 16, 546 in 2014, which was a five-year period when overall employment in the state was down by just less than 1 percent.”

Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump may hate globalization, but it’s clear that free trade offers opportunities for a state that has yet to stagger back to the economic health it enjoyed before the Great Recession. All the more reason to closely monitor the congressional delegation’s willingness to fall for protectionism’s false promises.

Radical journalist Amy Goodman to fundraise for taxpayer-supported KUNM, KSFR, and KNME

Errors of Enchantment Blog Postings - Thu, 2016-04-14 10:01

It never ceases to amaze me what the political left gets away with in New Mexico. Amy Goodman, the host of the nationally-syndicated Democracy Now! is one of the most radical left-wing journalists in America. There is no real analog on the right, but it would probably be a cross between Alex Jones and Rush Limbaugh.

And on April 26, Goodman will be in Santa Fe doing a fundraiser for those stations.

Now, we would never criticize a left-wing non-profit group like New Mexico Voices for Children for raising money by hosting a liberal commentator or journalist, even Ms. Goodman, but these are “public” radio and television stations (receiving taxpayer support). They are ostensibly “objective news” sources.

It’s time to end the charade. Privatize these “public” television and radio stations and let them serve their liberal, high-income “customers” without taxpayer support. Does anyone seriously believe that Downton Abbey or Sesame Street wouldn’t make it without government subsidy? Will we see future fundraisers with prominent conservative/free market speakers?

Deregulation: The Road Not Taken

Errors of Enchantment Blog Postings - Wed, 2016-04-13 12:05

Liberal activists are wailing about PNM’s request to hike its rates. As the Albuquerque Journal reported: “The utility wants … approval for $123.5 million in additional annual revenue, mostly to pay for about $655 million in investments it’s made in the electric system since 2010, the last time it received a rate increase. Among other things, the company also wants to raise the fixed monthly charge on customers’ bills by about 160 percent, from about $5 to $13, to better cover fixed costs as the rate of growth in electric consumption declines in New Mexico through energy efficiency programs and conservation.”

But concerns about the price of electricity shouldn’t lie solely with the left. The price of power can be a significant cost for many industries, and New Mexicans working to foster a vibrant private sector here should support reforms to make electricity more affordable.

It’s disappointing that in all the debate over PNM’s rates, deregulation is never mentioned. Many states have “restructured” their electricity markets over the last two decades. Some efforts have yielded dismal results, due to poorly designed plans that imposed as many — or more — mandates as were lifted. (California’s high-profile debacle is the best example.)

Yet several states adopted true deregulation, and customers of all kinds — residential, industrial, and commercial — benefited. Texas stands out, as does Pennsylvania. (The Keystone State has the lowest electric rates in the Northeast.)

In the words of the COMPETE Coalition’s William Massey: “Markets are working when regulators and policymakers give competition a chance. It drives prices to their lowest available levels.”

Power in four of our five neighbors is cheaper than it is in the Land of Enchantment. It’s time to revisit the Electric Utility Restructuring Act, which was passed in 1999 but repealed four years later. (In 2003, the Foundation presciently warned that the repeal portended “nothing but high prices in the long run.”)

Competition offers the best path forward for electricity in New Mexico. Why are elected officials AWOL on deregulation?

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