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.

John Stossel's presentation in Albuquerque

Journalist and author John Stossel recently spoke at a Rio Grande Foundation event in Albuquerque. Footage of his talk can be found below:

John Stossel's presentation in Albuquerque: April 25, 2012 from Paul Gessing on Vimeo.

His slides are available here.

Can Government Do Anything Well?

I'm suspicious of superstitions, like astrology or the belief that "green jobs will fix the environment and the economy." I understand the appeal of such beliefs. People crave simple answers and want to believe that some higher power determines our fates.

The most socially destructive superstition of all is the intuitively appealing belief that problems are best solved by government.

Opinion polls suggest that Americans are dissatisfied with government. Yet whenever another crisis hits, the natural human instinct is to say, "Why doesn't the government do something?"

And politicians appear to be problem-solvers. We believe them when they say, "Yes, we can!"

In 2008, when Barack Obama's supporters shouted, "Yes, we can!" they expressed faith in the power of government to solve problems. Some acted as if Obama were a magical politician whose election would end poverty and inequality and bring us to "the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal."

At least now people have come to understand that presidents -- including this president -- can't perform miracles.

The Legislature: the root of New Mexico's problems

It has been said that “No man’s life, liberty, or property are safe while the Legislature is in session.” Nowhere does this statement hold truer than New Mexico which, according to most national measures, ranks highly on the things that it is bad to rank on (crime rates, tax burdens, poverty) and low on the things that we’d like to rank highly on (graduation rates, income levels). The good news is that New Mexico’s Legislature is only in session 30 or 60 days per year depending on the year (a 30 day session was completed this year).

There are many – of all races and political persuasions – who blame New Mexico’s unique cultural milieu for our problems. While well-intended, I believe that the preponderance of economic data and hundreds of years of experience has shown us that poverty and educational underperformance are self-inflicted problems, not the result of culture or a lack of natural resources, but of policies that either promote or hamper economic and social freedoms.

Nathan Ashby presentation on economic freedom online

Nathan Ashby, author of the "Economic Freedom of North America" report spoke in Las Cruces recently. His full presentation is posted below:

Untitled from Paul Gessing on Vimeo.

New Mexico needs more economic freedom

In recent years hundreds of thousands have fled California due to the high cost of living and its restrictive regulation and taxation. Individuals and firms have relocated to Texas, Nevada, Utah, and Colorado. Unfortunately, New Mexico has not benefited much from this situation. What is the reason for this? What is New Mexico lacking? The answer is economic freedom. While New Mexico’s neighbors all have above average economic freedom, New Mexico ranks below all U.S. states with the exception of West Virginia. In order for New Mexico to be considered a competitive alternative for businesses to locate, it must make reforms that increase economic freedom.

False Promises in Health Care

The U.S. Supreme Court will shortly discuss the ACA, the latest abbreviation for the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act of 2010, pejoratively named Obamacare.

In Monday’s Journal, State Sen. Dede Feldman, D-Albuquerque, defended the ACA, saying it is good for both New Mexico and the United States because it: a) brings lots of money into our state; b) creates new jobs; c) increases insurance coverage; and d) eliminates the exclusion for pre-existing conditions.

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