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Why is New Mexico not realizing its potential?
Updated: 1 hour 12 min ago

New Mexico jumps in “Economic Freedom” Index

Tue, 2014-12-02 15:50

We at the Rio Grande Foundation believe that economic freedom is the most comprehensive and important single measurement of a particular economy’s likelihood of generating wealth and prosperity. If that is the case, New Mexico has experienced some rare good news via the free market, Canada-based, Fraser Institute’s Index of Economic Freedom of North America which was just released with 2012 data.

New Mexico which had been buried in 50th place for two straight years has risen to a tie for 40th alongside South Carolina and Hawaii. The states which New Mexico beat out include Maine, Vermont, Mississippi, New York, Rhode Island, West Virgina, New Jersey, and California.

It is a bit of good news although there is no doubt that 40th place is not good enough. Certainly, more work is needed to turn New Mexico’s economy around.

Also of interest, the Fraser Institute included Mexican states in the rankings for the first time ever. The full report can be found here.

More analysis of why NM Taxpayers shouldn’t be forced to improve Amtrak tracks

Mon, 2014-12-01 11:54

The following was submitted to the Albuquerque Journal in response to Amtrak’s desire to saddle taxpayers in New Mexico for a significant portion of track upkeep costs.

The author, far from being anti-rail, is a member of the Northeast Kansas Garden Railway Society, Railway & Locomotive Historical Society, Oregon Rail Heritage Center, Friends of the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic RR, Colorado Railroad Museum, and Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad and Museum Foundation.

Dear Editor,

The citizens of New Mexico, Colorado, and Kansas are being asked to subsidize both Amtrak and BNSF to upgrade and maintain the rail route from western Kansas, through southeast Colorado, to Albuquerque via Raton Pass to passenger train standards so that the Southwest Chief can continue to use the route. If the dollars are not forthcoming, Amtrak is threatening to cancel the Chief, or route it on the BNSF Transcon, bypassing western Kansas, Colorado, and northern New Mexico.

The only train currently using the Raton Pass route is the Chief, one east-bound and one west-bound a day. BNSF does not operate freight trains on the route. The Chief’s normal revenue consist is three coaches and two sleepers, able to accommodate on the order of 320 paying riders at any one time. Data in a 2012 Brookings report shows that the federal government subsidized Amtrak $187 for each Chief’s ticket sold. For the last 12 months, the Chief’s on-time performance has been 57.6%.

To maintain the track for this insignificant contribution to the transportation of people, the states are being asked to provide $100 million up front for capital improvements and $10 million annually for maintenance. States, being unable to print money, will have to put the bite on taxpayers to be so generous to Amtrak and BNSF. With state budgets already under great pressure, it is not in the citizens interest to hand out dollars for Amtrak’s benefit – it will have no discernable impact on the ability of citizens to travel and the return on investment, if any, will be many places to the right of the decimal point.


John D’Aloia Jr., Captain, USN (RET)

Rio Grande Foundation Submits Comments in Opposition to EPA’s Clean Power Plan

Mon, 2014-12-01 09:19

(Albuquerque, NM) —The Rio Grande Foundation today joined with elected officials and organizations from 50 states representing a wide range of industries to voice strong concerns with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) flawed “Clean Power Plan.”

For more than 70 years, New Mexico has exercised exclusive jurisdiction over its retail electricity markets. With the passage of the Federal Power Act in 1935, the Congress codified New Mexico’s—and all States’—prerogative to oversee their retail electricity markets, unencumbered by federal intrusion. EPA’s Clean Power Plan, by its very terms, would erase this “bright line” in jurisdiction between federal and state governments.

In addition to usurping the state’s authority, the rule adds insult to injury by imposing unreasonable costs on New Mexico ratepayers. Residential rates are projected to increase by 13 percent to 14 percent, while industrial rates are projected to increase by 23 percent. Making matters worse, the rule also poses a threat to electric reliability.

In response to previous EPA rules, utilities already have announced the closure of 633 megawatts of coal-fired electricity in New Mexico. EPA modeling for the Carbon Pollution Rule projects that the regulation would cause an additional 1,001 megawatts of electricity generating capacity in New Mexico to retire.

The Rio Grande Foundation’s comments are available online.

Said Paul Gessing, president of the Rio Grande Foundation which organized and submitted the comments, “Reliable and inexpensive electricity is critical to creating a prosperous economy. Working class New Mexicans, small businesses, and those on fixed incomes, cannot afford to see electricity prices skyrocket due to unnecessary and ineffectual federal regulations.”

Gessing further noted that it is not just his opinion that the regulations will be ineffective, in September 2013 testimony before a House committee, EPA administrator Gina McCarthy conceded the agency’s climate-change regulatory regime would not affect the climate, because the preponderance of current and future greenhouse-gas emissions originate in Asia.

In conclusion, the EPA is imposing significant costs on New Mexico businesses and rate-payers for no net reduction in current and future greenhouse-gas emissions.

Smaller Faster Lighter Denser Cheaper – Albuquerque Luncheon Event

Wed, 2014-11-26 14:06
How Innovation Keeps Proving the Catastrophists Wrong

Albuquerque Luncheon Presentation Click here for event registration form!

Join the Rio Grande Foundation at this Albuquerque luncheon event on December 9th featuring Robert Bryce, author of the book Smaller Faster Lighter Denser Cheaper: How Innovation Keeps Proving the Catastrophists Wrong.

The book shows how innovation and the inexorable human desire to make things smaller, faster, lighter, denser and cheaper is providing consumers with cheaper and more abundant energy, faster computing, lighter vehicles, and a myriad of other goods.

Robert Bryce will be speaking on the myriad ways in which improved technology applied to traditional energy sources are making our world a better place at dual events in Albuquerque and Farmington, New Mexico, on Tuesday, December 9, 2014.

Bryce will be speaking at a luncheon in Albuquerque from noon to 1:00pm at the Marriott Pyramid which is located at I-25 and Paseo del Norte.

Albuquerque luncheon seats are available for $40 per person if purchased before December 1. Tickets purchased on December 1 or after are $50. Call 505-264-6090 to ask about sponsorship or availability of tables of eight.

Robert Bryce has been a professional journalist for nearly three decades. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications including the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, National Review, Washington Post, American Conservative, and Counterpunch. His first book, Pipe Dreams: Greed, Ego, and the Death of Enron, received rave reviews and was named one of the best non-fiction books of 2002 by Publishers Weekly.

His second book, Cronies: Oil, the Bushes, and the Rise of Texas, America’s Superstate, was published in 2004. His third book, Gusher of Lies: The Dangerous Delusions of “Energy Independence”, published in March 2008, was favorably reviewed by more than 20 media outlets. A review of Gusher by William Grimes of the New York Times said that Bryce “reveals himself in the end as something of a visionary and perhaps even a revolutionary.”

In 2010, Bryce published Power Hungry: The Myths of “Green” Energy, and the Real Fuels of the Future. In a review of Power Hungry in the Wall Street Journal, Trevor Butterworth called the book “unsentimental, unsparing, and impassioned; and if you’ll excuse the pun, it is precisely the kind of journalism we need to hold truth to power.”

Smaller Faster Lighter Denser Cheaper: How Innovation Keeps Proving the Catastrophists Wrong was published on May 13, 2014. The book is an optimistic one. It shows how innovation and the inexorable human desire to make things Smaller Faster Lighter Denser Cheaper is providing consumers with Cheaper and more abundant energy, Faster computing, Lighter vehicles, and myriad other goods. That same desire is fostering unprecedented prosperity, greater liberty, and yes, better environmental protection.

A review in the New York Times said that Smaller Faster Lighter Denser Cheaper is a “book well worth reading.” While the Wall Street Journal called it an “engrossing survey.”

Bryce, who has been writing about the energy business since 1989, spent 12 years writing for the Austin Chronicle. From 2006 to September 2010, he worked as the managing editor of the Houston-based online publication, Energy Tribune. In April 2010, he joined the Manhattan Institute as a senior fellow in the think tank’s Center for Energy Policy and the Environment.

Bryce has appeared on dozens of TV and radio shows that have aired on variety of outlets including the BBC, MSNBC, Fox Business, CNN, PBS, and NPR.

An apiarist, he lives in Austin, Texas with his wife, Lorin, and their three children, Mary, Michael, and Jacob.

Click here for event registration form!

Forbes covers fight for Right to Work in NM plus recent TV interview

Mon, 2014-11-24 15:19

Forbes has a great article out today about the importance of “right to work” laws with specific mention of New Mexico and the coming battle during the 2015 legislative session for RTW.

I also sat down recently with Mike Cosgrove of KNAT TV on the topic of “right to work” and what it could mean for New Mexico’s economy.

rgf 2014-11 from Paul Gessing on Vimeo.

Feds threaten to cut Maine Food Stamp Funding due to Photo ID component

Fri, 2014-11-21 16:33

To say that Washington is full of hypocrites is to state the obvious. I ran across this article from the Huffington Post of all places which discusses federal opposition and subsequent threats to eliminate federal support for that State’s SNAP (food stamp) program if the state doesn’t eliminate what appears to be a voluntary effort to combat SNAP fraud by putting recipient photos on the SNAP cards.

One would think that having a “free” ID given to some of the neediest people in a given state would be welcomed in light of the Obama Administration’s opposition to “voter ID” laws on the grounds that the poor and minorities are “disenfranchised” by such laws.

It would seem that having photos on SNAP cards could help deter fraud as well. Gov. Martinez’s Administration has of course been working to require certain SNAP recipients work or obtain job training to continue receiving the benefit, a proposal that has drawn the ire of welfare advocates.

RGF actually supports REAL transparency in medical prices

Fri, 2014-11-21 10:46

In today’s paper, Dr. James Tryon questions our own Dr. Deane Waldman for his critique of the Think New Mexico proposal to mandate one form of health care prices transparency.

The thing Tryon doesn’t get and the reason we have serious concerns about Think New Mexico’s proposal is that meaningful prices don’t result from government mandates. They come from market processes. The importance of prices as a too for transmitting information was an important contribution of Nobel Prize-Winning economist FA Hayek.

Health care prices aren’t so mysterious by accident. We don’t need a government agency to mandate that restaurants, retail outlets, gas stations, or even car dealers publish their prices because ultimately those prices are driving by market forces. If government or insurance companies are paying for patient care, those patients aren’t going to care how much it costs. The only way to change this incentive is to restore the doctor/patient relationship which includes getting government bureaucrats and insurance companies out of the middle of our health care system.

As seen in the chart below, only about 12% of US health care spending paid out-of-pocket by consumers, it is no surprise that prices paid by consumers are not particularly relevant. There is a way to solve it, but it involves eliminating the tax advantage employers have over individuals in purchasing health care, repealing much of ObamaCare, and dramatically-reforming Medicare and Medicaid.

The Right to Work bandwagon continues to grow: ABQ Journal endorses it

Tue, 2014-11-18 15:42

The Albuquerque Journal has endorsed “Right to Work” for New Mexico. This is welcome news. Hopefully the Legislature will take notice and that efforts to bring this needed reform to New Mexico will be bi-partisan. Nationwide, at least, support is incredibly bi-partisan for “Right too Work.”

A few notes from the editorial: “Right to work doesn’t threaten unions; it simply forces them to compete for members rather than have captive, dues-paying members delivered to them.”

The editorial concluded saying:

New Mexico needs to diversity its economy:

1. If it wants to insulate itself from the effects of federal inaction/error. (Can you say sequestration? How about furlough?)

2. If it wants to establish a more vibrant jobs sector that employs New Mexicans and draws folks from other places interested in careers beyond the basic functions government provides.

A key to that diversification is being able to compete for employers and employees alike. And that should not be an R vs. D battle. Lawmakers should seriously consider right-to-work legislation as one piece of a broader economic reform package when they return to the Roundhouse next year.

And here is the polling from Gallup on support for right to work across partisan lines:

Tax-Funded Spaceport was never a Good Idea

Tue, 2014-11-18 10:55

The recent crash of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShip2 in the Mojave Desert was a tragedy for the pilot that lost his life in the accident. It was also a setback for Richard Branson, Virgin Galactic, and the entire private space industry. However, for New Mexico taxpayers, it was only the latest and most vivid sign that building a Spaceport was not a wise use of tax dollars.

The transition from publicly-funded space travel (NASA) to a competitive, private-sector model was destined to be choppy and unpredictable. It is very much an open question how humans will travel safely and regularly into space in private spacecraft.

Even NASA with its multi-billion dollar budgets never quite figured out how to get humans back and forth form space routinely and regularly. The Space Shuttle was originally intended to launch as frequently as once a week. That didn’t come close to happening even in the best of times.

This all leads us to New Mexico where, at the behest of then Gov. Bill Richardson, our Legislature embarked our state upon a spaceport construction project at a cost to taxpayers of $220 million and counting.

A decade after this project was undertaken we have no idea what technologies will be used to fly people to space, whether companies can make space tourism profitable, and whether New Mexicans will benefit economically even if the space tourism industry succeeds.

Unfortunately, while Branson, Rutan, and other space pioneers are putting their own money and reputations on the line to make their space enterprises successful, the folks who unwisely got New Mexico into this mess cannot be held accountable and will suffer no personal losses from their actions.

Bill Richardson is not lying awake at night wondering if New Mexico’s Spaceport succeeds and I know of no legislator or other elected official who lost their race due to their unwise “investment” in the Spaceport.

This is where the Spaceport goes from isolated mistake to cautionary tale. The Spaceport has proven to be a spectacular failure in large part because the people behind it didn’t have any “skin” in the game. This lack of consequences leaves politicians to make decisions based on all manner of personal and political desires.

That is not to say that private sector entrepreneurs don’t fail. Indeed, if you know anything about Steve Jobs, he failed time and again as do most entrepreneurs. But they have their own money at stake and thus have the incentive to make better bets and only make bets they expect to succeed.

Just as governments should not kill businesses through high taxes and onerous regulations, government should not attempt to place bets using tax dollars on favored industries or technologies.

The Spaceport is only the most vivid failure of such government overreach in New Mexico, but we see the Rail Runner piling up ongoing losses and massive “balloon payments” due in the not-too-distant future.

The film industry which the economically-ignorant cite as a great success has actually lost $147 million for taxpayers since 2010 according to the New Mexico Legislature’s own study.

In recent years, taxpayers have also lost $16 million in subsidies for Schott Solar and $19 million Eclipse Aviation.

These wasted tax dollars could have been returned to real New Mexico entrepreneurs in the form of tax cuts to produce jobs and a real economic stimulus to our state. Instead, those scarce dollars have been – and in the cases of the Rail Runner and film subsidies – continue to reduce our prosperity by taking money out of entrepreneurs’ pockets and allocating it to less productive uses.

The good news is that Gov. Martinez doesn’t seem inclined to grandiose spending on spaceports and trains. Hopefully, New Mexicans have learned an important lesson about the promises of politicians and, rather than government micromanagement of our economy – a tendency that has led us to our impoverished state – will support government as referee, not coach.

Paul Gessing is the President of New Mexico’s Rio Grande Foundation. The Rio Grande Foundation is an independent, non-partisan, tax-exempt research and educational organization dedicated to promoting prosperity for New Mexico based on principles of limited government, economic freedom and individual responsibility

Health care market isn’t a free one

Mon, 2014-11-17 16:53

The following article by Dr. Deane Waldman appeared in the Albuquerque Journal on November 16, 2014. RGF president Paul Gessing offered his own thoughts on the Think New Mexico proposal in this blog posting.

Recently in the Journal, my friend and colleague Dr. Barry Ramo spoke glowingly of Think New Mexico’s plan to improve health care in the Land of Enchantment. Unfortunately, the plan, hatched by our own homegrown policy think tank, is off base.

In fact, it brings to mind the famous aphorism, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Think New Mexico is smoothing our way to a blisteringly hot place where we do not want to go.

Their plan advocates enactment of new rules and regulations to:

1. “Require transparency of hospital prices and risk-adjusted quality indicators…”
2. “Outlaw price discrimination…”
3. “Prohibit gag clauses…”
4. “Seek a federal waiver so that Medicaid will pay the same prices as private payers.”

The people at Think New Mexico say they want to restore free market forces with its manifold advantages to the “market” of New Mexico health care.

Freeing the market in health care is a very good idea. What they propose is the opposite.

A highly regulated, tightly controlled free market is a contradiction in terms. You either control a market or let it do its thing. Note the action verbs in Think New Mexico’s first three proposals: require, outlaw and prohibit. They are about as controlling as any words I know.

In the free market, there are no external controls on the two players: Consumers choose to spend or not, and sellers compete. No third party makes decisions for them.

There should be some regulation of the market as a whole, but no mandates as to what specific consumers and sellers can do or cannot do. A free market does not have some who are required to follow the rules while others are exempt.

There are no free market forces when buyers are required by law to buy a specific, government-approved product and only that; where sellers are told what to sell and at what price; and where a third party pays the bill.

The people at Think New Mexico no doubt mean well. Nonetheless, the group is paving the road to hell.

They say they want to “free” the market, yet propose to do so by increasing the number of rules, regulations and restrictions!

You cannot reduce regulatory constraints on a market by adding more regulations. You cannot cure cancer using cancer.

Getting useful comparative shopping information into the hands of consumers would be necessary in a truly free market. But first, consumers need control of and responsibility for their own money. They need to be making the spend/not spend decision rather than the government.

It gets worse. “Price” in health care is a meaningless term.

Everywhere else, price is what the consumer pays to the seller. In health care, the consumer doesn’t pay, and no one pays what the price tag reads. Payment is decided by the federal government, rather than through the balancing mechanism of negotiation between buyer and seller.

So the consumer gets useless information and cannot economize because the spend/not spend decision is made by someone else. That is not a free market.

On the supply side of a free market, various sellers compete for consumers’ dollars based on the true price (cost to customer), features, and quality. Not so in health care, where the market is tightly controlled.

The government, not the seller, sets prices and quality standards. There is no competition between the various sellers of goods and services.

There is competition in one place in health care: between insurance carriers. They compete strictly on price and then make their profit by delaying, deferring and denying the care we need.

Health care is the antithesis of a free market. Think New Mexico’s plan will not make it one. Though the group’s ostensible intentions are laudable, their implementation plan is deeply flawed. It will only smooth our descent to an overly warm clime.

Dr. Deane Waldman, author of “The Cancer In Healthcare,” is an adjunct scholar for the Rio Grande Foundation.

WSJ article provides devastating critique of Virgin Galactic and NM Spaceport

Mon, 2014-11-17 13:08

I have been doing a lot of media relating to the crash of Spaceship Two and the future of New Mexico’s spaceport (much of it British and other out-of-state publications. My view of the crash has been that if it was pilot error or one, easily-fixed mechanical problem, we could see flights in the not-too-distant future, but if there were a series of problems, the situation may be completely un-salvageable.

Well, according to this new story from the Wall Street Journal, it looks like the latter is the case. According to the article, the problems at Virgin Galactic were significant, ongoing, involved the very basis of the a variety of the technologies being implemented, and often covered-up by Richard Branson who nonetheless repeatedly offered rosy launch timelines. This is most definitely bad news for New Mexico.

It is hard to say what, if anything, New Mexicans can salvage out of Spaceport America. The good news is that it will provide limited government advocates an ongoing reminder of government’s inability to predict the “next big thing.”

Rio Grande Foundation Asks EPA to Withdraw its “Waters of the U.S.” Proposal

Fri, 2014-11-14 11:03

(Albuquerque, NM) —The Rio Grande Foundation today joined with 375 trade associations and chambers from 50 states representing a wide range of industries to voice strong concerns with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ flawed proposed rule to dramatically expand the scope of federal authority over water and land uses across the U.S. and called for the proposal to be withdrawn. The effort was led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The comments are available here.

The rule is simply an attempt by Washington, D.C., bureaucrats to take over the economies and the livelihoods of everyone in the western U.S. It has little to do with environmental protection, and everything to do with a political takeover of our most precious resource – making everyone in the west dependent and beholden to Washington bureaucrats.

As the groups’ comments state, “The proposed rule is really about the Agencies’ overreaching attempt to replace longstanding state and local control of land uses near water with centralized federal control. In light of the overwhelming evidence that the proposed rule would have a devastating impact on businesses, states, and local governments without any real benefit to water quality, the Agencies should immediately withdraw the waters of the U.S. proposal and begin again. The current proposed rule is simply too procedurally and legally flawed to repair.”

The comments detail several examples of the impacts of the proposed rule, including:

  • Maps prepared by EPA show the rule could expand federal jurisdiction over waters from 5 million river and stream miles to well over 8 million river and stream miles;
  • The rule would make most ditches into “tributaries.”  Routine maintenance activities in ditches and on-site ponds and impoundments could trigger permits that can cost $100,000 or more;
  • These permitting requirements would likely trigger additional environmental reviews that would add years to the completion time for ordinary projects;
  • Even if a project can get a permit, firms will often have to agree to mitigate environmental “damage” with costly restoration/mitigation projects;
  • The proposal would likely also result in more stringent storm water management requirements, which would affect retailers, companies with large parking lots, “big box” stores, etc.


Right to Work talk heating up

Thu, 2014-11-13 17:30

There is a lot going on when it comes to Right to Work in New Mexico. The head of New Mexico’s AFL-CIO chapter recently railed against such a law saying it could “harm the film industry” in an article in Albuquerque Biz First.

Union bosses hate Right to Work because it impacts their bottom-line and ultimately their political power, so this is not really news. I hate taxpayer subsidies for the film industry so I’d consider a bill that makes paying union dues and “fair share” fees optional and hits the taxpayer-financed film industry a “two-fer.” Alas, in the real world, Right to Work’s impact on the film industry is benign. According to Film Production Capital, the top three states for film production are all Right to Work.

The Albuquerque Journal had a front page article today on Right to Work. Carter Bundy, yet another union boss who was given ample opportunity to explain his opposition to Right to Work made several arguments that simply didn’t hold water in the article. Yes, unions must negotiate on behalf of everyone because they have asked for and received collective bargaining privileges. And, he has nothing at all to back up the statement that Tesla not coming to NM had nothing to do with Right to Work. At least one site selection expert cited Right to Work as an important factor in making NM more business-friendly in general and something needed to make our state more attractive to Tesla.

Finally, Grant Taylor of the Hobbs Chamber had an interesting take (in ABQ Biz First) outlining how unions are given substantial advantages over chambers of commerce in being able to collect dues from those who don’t wish to pay them despite the fact that they must represent them.

State subsidies for Amtrak make no economic sense

Wed, 2014-11-12 13:30

According to a report in the Albuquerque Journal, a new study estimated it would cost about $9 million annually to maintain the New Mexico portions of the line used by Amtrak to run trains through New Mexico. If that money is not spent, New Mexico stands to lose between $3.3 and $3.7 million annually.

So, in classic government fashion (especially for Amtrak which has loses about $1.5 billion annually and has lost money for years), repairing the track for Amtrak’s benefit will have a net negative impact of over $5 million annually.

Oh, and lest policymakers get carried away with concerns that a $3 million economic impact is significant, New Mexico’s overall economy is $79.7 billion. amounts to all of .00376% of New Mexico’s economy. In other words, according to the study, Amtrak’s economic impact on New Mexico’s economy amounts to a rounding error.

Rather than subsidizing an already-money-losing national passenger railroad, it would seem that New Mexico should focus its limited economic development attention and resources elsewhere.

Land Commissioner-elect supports state/local land control, responds to Heinrich op-ed

Tue, 2014-11-11 13:23

Land Commissioner-elect (apparent) Aubrey Dunn apparently shared my concerns about New Mexico Senator Martin Heinrich’s statements made in his recent New York Times op-ed. Dunn fired off his own piece which appeared in the Santa Fe New Mexican.

My response to Heinrich’s op-ed (penned alongside Carl Graham) has also appeared in several papers across the state.

It is good to see the newly-elected Land Commissioner take an early stand in support of New Mexico controlling more of its own lands. While current Land Commissioner Ray Powell endorsed the principle of New Mexico taking over certain federal lands, it was not a point of emphasis as it seems likely to be under Dunn. It will be interesting to see how Dunn, Gov. Martinez, and the Republican-led House tackle the issue in the months and years ahead.

Gessing and Webber pre-debate interview w/ Fred Martino on KRWG TV

Mon, 2014-11-10 14:03

Before our debate in Las Cruces (and thus before the election or the Virgin Galactic crash), I sat down to discuss the issues of the day with former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Alan Webber for a discussion with Fred Martino on KRWG’s Newsmakers.

What’s “the Hispanic view” on Net Neutrality?

Mon, 2014-11-10 10:58

Sometimes I’m glad to be just a plain old white guy. That’s what I thought after reading this piece on “Net Neutrality” in the Albuquerque Journal from an apparent Hispanic who takes former Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chavez to task for his work in opposing “Net Neutrality.” There, I agree with Mayor Marty about something after years of (successfully) fighting his administration on streetcars and events centers.

Anyway, the article by Andrea Quijada of the Media Literacy Project (which is funded by a number of major left-wing foundations) asserts that Chavez is not “speaking on behalf of the Latino community” when he opposes efforts by the federal government to micro-manage Internet traffic speeds. Only supporters of “Net Neutrality” can speak for Hispanics. Echoes of Gary King’s assertion that Gov. Susana Martinez doesn’t have a “Latino heart.”

The only true statement in Quijada’s article is that “People like Martin Chavez do not speak for us.” I’m not sure who “us” is, but I agree with that. And neither does Quijada speak for “us.” How about we look at issues based on their merits and unintended as well as intended consequences for all Americans, not some mythical race and gender group-think.

Perhaps it is time for the political left to get beyond the “us and them” rhetoric?

My KRQE interview on the Toby Martinez municipal courthouse restitution/pension situation

Fri, 2014-11-07 09:46

I was asked by KRQE Channel 13 to discuss efforts by the federal government to take funds from Toby Martinez’ (who stole from taxpayers in the Municipal Courthouse scandal alongside Manny Aragon) pension in order to fulfill Martinez’ restitution requirements. Unfortunately, according to my reading of New Mexico law, the Feds can’t tap Martinez’ pension under New Mexico law despite his criminal conviction. Astonishingly, according to the report, Martinez’ pension is worth upwards of $473,000 which is illustrative of the incredible generosity of New Mexico’s underfunded pension systems.

Watch the full interview below:

Right to Work: on the agenda for 2015 session?

Thu, 2014-11-06 14:50

In the wake of the Republican takeover of the New Mexico House, the talk has begun over whether or not the Legislature will seriously consider adopting a Right to Work law.

Our friends at the Heartland Institute have some excellent research and information on right to work and its potential impact on New Mexico (including research from RGF).

Lastly, I had a letter to the editor in the Albuquerque Journal’s Business section on Monday which may have been missed amid all the election activity:

Letters to the Editor
Albuquerque Business Journal

In his column on right to work laws, Marshall Martin concludes that “there is little question having right to work may signify that a state is business friendly, one cannot be certain that having right to work is the deciding factor…”

That is a true enough statement. In the real world, “scientific” studies of economic systems don’t work. “Proof” that right to work is indeed good for the economy is as elusive as is “proof” that any law or system works.

What we do know is that eight out of 10 of the fastest growing states in 2013 were right to work. We also know that between 1977 and 2008, right to work states produced 44.5% more jobs and saw per-capita personal incomes grow 10% faster than states that do not have such laws in place.

Of course, right to work is not only an economic issue. It is a freedom issue. Workers shouldn’t have to join unions or pay union dues if they don’t want to.

It is true that no single economic policy change made by New Mexico’s Legislature is our ticket to prosperity, but a right to work law – which unlike most other “economic development” schemes won’t cost taxpayers a dime – is a good place to start.

So, the Legislature, whatever its partisan makeup, must embrace a variety of pro-market reforms if New Mexico’s economy is to be turned around, but right to work, a policy which according to Gallup is supported by 65% of Democrats nationally, is a great starting point.

Time to kill the southern road to the Spaceport

Wed, 2014-11-05 17:23

According to pre-crash news reports, New Mexico is on the verge of spending $14.2 million to construct a southern road to the New Mexico Spaceport. According to the article linked to above, “That won’t be enough to pay for a full-fledged asphalt road, officials have said. Rather, it will pay for a less-durable type of covering.”

So, under current plans, the road is going to be built more cheaply than officials would like in order to “do something” to improve access to the facility from the south which is now possible only via a gravel road.

It would seem that this road should be put on hold indefinitely given the recent crash and that legislators might want to consider doing something more pressing with the $14.2 million.