Jonah Goldberg's speech in Albuquerque

Jonah Goldberg spoke in Albuquerque on his new book "Tyranny of Cliches: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas" and the 2012 elections. We had another sellout crowd in attendance and a great time. Video of Jonah's speech can be found below. For those who couldn't make it or would like a copy of Jonah's book, the Rio Grande Foundation has a limited supply of signed copies. Call us at: 505-264-6090 for details.

Jonah Goldberg presentation on Tyranny of Cliches in Albuquerque, New Mexico from Paul Gessing on Vimeo.

Patients Are Losers in Health Care Law

How can anything be both earth-shattering – monumental – and unimportant – irrelevant? The Supreme Court of the United States will shortly announce its decision about the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act of 2010.

That decision will have profound policy implications regarding the reach and scope of federal government and at the same time have little impact on our daily lives in terms of health care.

The time to consider this paradox is before the decision is announced. Afterward, all anyone will talk about or even think about is political and financial effects, winners and losers. Any thoughts about how the ACA will affect you, me and our health care needs will be ignored in the scorekeeping, especially effects on the general election in November.

While we can do so, let’s consider how the ACA will impact Mr. and Mrs. Everyperson and family.

Rating Transparency in Higher Education

(Albuquerque) The Rio Grande Foundation, in its ongoing effort to flex New Mexico’s transparency laws, has attempted to obtain the payrolls of each of the state’s 16 institutes of higher education.

Under New Mexico state law, information kept in an electronic format must be made available to the public in that format if it is requested as such. Also, a specific point of contact must be made available to handle Inspection of Public Records (IPRA) Requests. Whether information was provided in the format requested, within the appropriate time frame, and whether or not a point of contact was on the website, formed the basis for our A-F ranking.

As Rio Grande Foundation President Paul Gessing noted, “Higher education transparency is in the news these days with the University of New Mexico recently having made waves by becoming the first institute to place all payroll information on a publicly-available website. We at the Rio Grande Foundation applaud UNM’s leadership and encourage other institutes of higher learning to follow UNM’s path.”

“Unfortunately, responsiveness and ability for average citizens to obtain supposedly public information varies widely from school to school, making it difficult or impossible for average citizens to obtain even basic information.”

The full report is available here. The grades for individual institutes are listed below (and in the paper itself) and include live hyperlinks to the payroll data for each school.

University of New Mexico: A+

New Mexico State University: A

Eastern New Mexico University: A

New Mexico Highlands: A

Western New Mexico University: A

New Mexico Military Institute: A

Northern New Mexico CollegeA

San Juan College: A-

Central New Mexico Community College: B+

Clovis Community College: B

New Mexico Junior College: B

Santa Fe Community College: C+

New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology: C

Mesalands Community College: F

Doña Ana Community College: F

Luna Community College: F

More information needed on higher education


Higher education has been a hot topic both nationally and in New Mexico recently. Congress has been haggling over the interest rates charged on federal student loans while economists question the economic impact of deeply-indebted college graduates. Here in New Mexico, UNM faculty complains that their salaries are not competitive with other, similar schools.

Unfortunately, decisions are being made and policy reforms are being discussed based on inadequate information. Sometimes, this lack of information seems to result from a strategic plan to make it more difficult for the public and policymakers to make sound decisions.

Higher Education in New Mexico: A College on Every Corner?

(Albuquerque) A new report from the Rio Grande Foundation sheds some needed light on the sheer scope and magnitude of New Mexico’s higher education system. According to, “Higher Education in New Mexico: A Chicken in Every Pot, a Car in Every Garage, a College on Every Corner,” New Mexico’s four-year institutes of higher education have an astounding 38 campuses combined while the state’s two-year campuses and junior colleges have 27.

There are a total of 12 campuses to choose from in the Albuquerque Metropolitan area alone. There are 9 campuses in or within a one hour drive of Las Cruces.

As this study points out, the proliferation of campuses is a symptom of larger problems within New Mexico’s overall education system. Measured against other states, New Mexico:

  •  Dedicates a far greater percentage of personal incomes to higher education ($17.39 per $1,000 in New Mexico while the national average was about $7.00;
  • Graduates fewer of its students than other states (New Mexico ranks 46th in the nation);
  • Retains first-year students (for continued schooling) at the worst rate in the nation;
  • Demands taxpayers disproportionately foot the bill for higher education (2nd-highest nationally); and
  • Asks less than all but one other state of students, the direct beneficiaries of higher education, when it comes to tuition and fees.

Rio Grande Foundation president and co-author of the study Paul Gessing noted, “These data point to a system in which resources have been allocated in a scattershot manner.” Gessing continued, saying, “Taxpayer dollars are being spread out over too many campuses that are trying to serve disparate interests and expensive. Future cuts targeted at higher education in New Mexico may be necessary, but this reduction can be turned into a positive for higher education if resources are re-allocated in ways that produce excellence rather than serving all-comers.”

Co-author William Patrick Leonard noted that, “Areas of excellence do exist in New Mexico’s higher education system, especially at New Mexico Tech and the New Mexico Military Institute. Policymakers need to study these success stories to better understand how the overall system might be improved.”

Luncheon and panel discussion: Understanding gas prices and oil and gas in New Mexico

If you haven't noticed, gas prices are on their way down in recent weeks. While the media has taken note, the reasons behind the decrease are not obvious. That is why the upcoming panel discussion being held on May 30 (which Rio Grande Foundation president Paul Gessing will participate in) is so important (details and event invite here). You are encouraged to attend this free event!

At the Rio Grande Foundation, we have always stated clearly that gasoline prices are set largely by the marketplace with several additional factors impacting them. If there were a "vast conspiracy" on behalf of higher gas prices, they would be kept high all the time and would be far higher than they are. Enjoy lunch with us and find out more details not only on our perspective, but what one of the top national experts and several local ones have to say on the issue.

You can bet that gas prices will rise again some day and the conspiracy theorists will be there to blame "big oil" and point fingers (usually at the wrong parties).

Straight talk on the Federal Budget

Generally, the Rio Grande Foundation focuses on state and local policy issues. Nonetheless, given New Mexico’s status as one of, if not the, most reliant states on federal spending within its borders, the perilous condition of the federal budget must be of concern to all New Mexicans.

Particularly in this political season, the tendency is for the media and politicians to ignore what then- chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, called, “The biggest threat we have to our national security is our debt.” After all, no one running for office wants to be seen as taking government benefits away from people.

Path to sound environmental policy for state


As the world celebrates Earth Day, it is time to separate real environmentalism from the fake variety. If there is one rule to follow in this regard, it’s this: if an idea is trendy, it probably isn’t good for the planet.

As environmentalism has become trendy, politicians and businesses have learned that appearing green can lead to profit and political gain. Increasingly, science takes a back seat to policies that make people feel good or appear environmentally friendly.

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