Re-focus education on school choice, increased learning options

With all of the debate going on about testing and teacher evaluations, we feel that it is important to remind New Mexico's education leaders of the importance of broad-based school choice and the importance of enhanced educational options for students. Here is a recent interview Paul Gessing did on the issue of education reform:

9-10-13 School Choice-digital learning from Paul Gessing on Vimeo.

New RGF Issue Brief: No Legislation without Representation!

(Albuquerque) For all of the problems facing our elected officials in Congress particularly and Washington, DC, in general, a new Rio Grande Foundation paper details how the underpinnings of our republic are being undermined by the never-ending growth of the federal bureaucracy.

In the new brief, “No Legislation without Representation,” the authors detail how Congress has abdicated its responsibilities to legislate and has instead given the tacit go-ahead to bureaucracies to enact the equivalent of legislation with minimal discussion or input on the issues from elected officials or the voting public.

As the authors note, the ObamaCare health care law may be the “poster child” for this trend, but the trend goes back to at least the New Deal policies of the Roosevelt Administration.

While some may be sanguine about the trend toward ever-greater adoption of extra-democratic regulations, there are real economic impacts inherent in allowing a nearly unlimited number of bureaucrats “legislate” out of sight rather than demanding that 535 elected officials do so in public on national cable television.

The authors note that, “In 1949 there were 19,335 pages of regulations. In 2011 there were 169,301 small-typed pages, an increase by a factor of eight over a period of 62 years.” The financial impact of these regulations is reflected in a GDP that analyses suggest could be as high as $54 trillion instead of the $16 trillion we have today. As an example, the regulations created to support ObamaCare have had a direct effect on employment. The results of a survey on ObamaCare shows 41% of surveyed businesses froze hiring because of the health care law,

19% said they have reduced employees, and 38% said they have reduced growth plans.

Perhaps worse than the economic impact is the negative impact this change has had upon openness in government. Even the most interested of American citizens, it is impossible to know what is going on with their government.

As James Madison noted in Federalist No. 62, “It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their own choice if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man, who knows what the law is today, can guess what it will be to-morrow.”

Americans are limited in their tools for addressing the problem of nameless, faceless bureaucrats legislating from various agencies, but understanding that there is a problem is a first step to getting a grasp on the problem.

Unlocking federal lands would be economic boom for NM

New Mexico is sitting on an untapped gold mine. Well, not quite a gold mine (although we do have some), but in terms of natural resources, the oil and gas located on New Mexico’s federally-owned lands is about the same.

New Mexico is among the top oil and natural gas producing states in the nation. These industries are the foundation upon which New Mexico’s economy and budgets are built. However, we’re like a car that is only firing on four of six possible pistons. That’s because so much of our lands are owned by the federal government and thus, underutilized.

A whopping forty-one percent of New Mexico is controlled by Washington. Some of these lands are completely off-limits to economic activity as they are owned and managed by Native tribes and the DoD, but more than 20 million acres currently managed by the Fish and Wildlife Service, National Forest Service, and Bureau of Land Management, could be considered for oil and gas exploration.

Obama’s pre-Kindergarten plan expensive, shows little results

Throughout the spring and summer, United States Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has travelled the country to build support for President Obama’s “Preschool for All” program. He has made stops in Colorado, Georgia, Minnesota, Wyoming, and several other states. Recently, he began his weeklong “Strong Start, Bright Future” bus tour of the Southwest. To kick off the tour, Duncan spoke at United Way of Santa Fe County Early Learning Center and at Emerson Elementary School in Albuquerque.

Secretary Duncan spoke mainly about President Obama’s early education program, which was introduced this past spring as part of the President’s fiscal year 2014 budget proposal. The program is designed to expand preschool access and would be funded with a mix of state and federal dollars. Over the first ten years of the program, the federal government has committed to spend $75 billion dollars, which would be raised by increasing the federal excise tax on cigarettes by 93 percent as well as increasing the tax rates on other tobacco products. The states that choose to participate in the program cover about ten percent of its cost in year one but their funding obligations increase steadily each year—rising to 50 percent in year five and a whopping 75 percent in year ten. So if our state participates in the program, New Mexico’s taxpayers will be responsible for funding the greater share of the program in the long-term.

Unlocking New Mexico’s Federal Lands Would Generate Economic Boom

(Albuquerque) New Mexico could see both an economic boom and improved management of the federally-controlled Forest Service and BLM lands within its borders. New data providing three different scenarios on the economic potential of New Mexico’s public lands from Dr. Timothy J. Considine, a professor of energy economics at the University of Wyoming, illustrates the vast potential of these lands for oil and gas production.

New Mexico








Value Added












Valued added and taxes are in millions of 2013 dollars

Notes Rio Grande Foundation president Paul J. Gessing, author of the brief, The Economic Possibilities of Unlocking Energy Resources on New Mexico’s Federal Lands, “Opening portions of New Mexico’s federal lands to resource development is not and should not be an open invitation to pillage the land.

“Rather,” argues Gessing, “oil and gas can be accessed in an environmentally-sensitive manner while some of those revenues could be used in prevent forest fires, improve wildlife habitat, and allow the public to access and recreate on those lands in ways that are not currently possible.”

In fact, the Rio Grande Foundation’s analysis indicates that BLM and Forest Service lands would be better managed by state officials here in New Mexico as opposed to federal bureaucrats from Washington, DC. Bi-partisan legislation, HB 292, to formally request the return of these lands from Washington was introduced during the 2013 legislative session. Similar legislation has passed in Utah and other Western states.

For an idea of the significance of this added economic activity relative to New Mexico’s economy, the number of jobs created could be as much as 7.8 percent higher and New Mexico’s gross state product would rise by a whopping 10 percent.

Considine's paper upon which this research is based is available here.

RR should strive for more government efficiency

Conservatives in Rio Rancho are attempting to heal some wounds in the wake of the failed ballot measure last month. While my organization endorsed the tax cut proposal, there were honorable people with reasonable views on both sides of the issue.
And, while tax policy is an important component of economic development policy, Rio Rancho’s city council should look beyond taxes (at least in the immediate future) to consider ways to improve governance in the city while also making it a more attractive place to do business.

One of the most important ways to do this is by having a more efficient government with improved cost-effectiveness.
In Indianapolis, former Mayor Stephen Goldsmith had an informal test called the “Yellow Pages Test.” The basic idea behind the test was that if more than one private sector provider for a given service can be found in the phone book, the private sector provider, not government, should be given the job or at least allowed to compete for it on an even playing field with government workers.

Upcoming RGF Events: The President Who Said "No": How an American Leader Can Cut the Budget, Save The Economy and Still Win Elections

Albuquerque Luncheon and Tularosa Dinner, Monday, October 21
The President Who Said "No": How an American Leader Can Cut the Budget, Save The Economy and Still Win Elections

amity_shlaesLeading economic historian, best-selling author, and award-winning journalist Amity Shlaes will be speaking on Calvin Coolidge and his legacy of limited government at events in Albuquerque and Tularosa, New Mexico, on Monday, October 21st, 2013.

Tickets for either event are available for $50 per person. A ticket and book combo is available for $80 which will get one person entry to the luncheon or dinner and one copy of Shlaes' book Coolidge. That's $5 off the book's cover price of $35. Shlaes will first speak at a luncheon in Albuquerque from 12:00 noon to 1:00PM at the Marriott Pyramid which is located at I-25 and Paseo del Norte.

Click here to make your Albuquerque luncheon reservations online. Shlaes will then speak at a dinner in Tularosa from 6:00 to 7:30PM at the Tulie Cafe which is located at 313 Granado St. Click here to make your Tularosa dinner reservations online. Giv us a call at: 505-264-6090 for sponsorship.

Books can be added to the table price for $30 per book. Click here to order additional books. amity_shlaes_coolidge_bookShlaes writes a syndicated column for Forbes, is Chairman of the Board of the Calvin Coolidge Memorial Foundation, directs the 4% Growth project at the George W. Bush Presidential Center, and teaches at New York University's Stern School of Business in the MBA program. She is the author of the New York Times best-sellers, The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression (named by The Wall Street Journal as one of the best books to read during a financial crisis), The Greedy Hand, and her latest book Coolidge, a comprehensive biography and reassessment of President Calvin Coolidge.

The Wall Street Journal raves that it is "both timely and important ... As the nation faces a looming economic crisis wrought in large measure by mounting public debt, the Coolidge experiment offers insights into what an alternative course might look like. Ms. Shlaes has given us a detailed examination of that alternative course." Shlaes has written for Bloomberg, The Financial Times and The Wall Street Journal, where she was an editorial board member, as well as for The New Yorker, Fortune, National Review, The New Republic, and Foreign Affairs. She has appeared on PBS's News Hours with Jim Lehrer, Comedy Central's The Daily Show, Fox News' Glenn Beck, ABC's Good Morning America, Charlie Rose, CNBC's Kudlow, contributes to Public Radio International's Marketplace, and appears frequently on Bloomberg radio. She chairs the jury of the Manhattan Institute's Hayek Book Prize and has won both the Hayek and the Bastiat Prize for Journalism.

Shlaes is a trustee of the Calvin Coolidge Memorial Foundation. She graduated magna cum laude from Yale and studied at the Free University in Berlin on a DAAD fellowship. Yale named Shlaes to its "Who's Been Blue," list of most distinguished alumni. She lives with her family in New York.

Make Your Reservations Online:

Albuquerque luncheon reservations

Tularosa dinner reservations

Issues and Answers interview: Federal Lands, Milton Friedman, and New Mexico's economy

Paul Gessing of Rio Grande Foundation sat down with Diane Kinderwater recently to discuss a variety of issues of importance to New Mexico. See the full interview below:

Issues & Answers: federal lands, Milton Friedman, licensing, New Mexico, economy from Paul Gessing on Vimeo.

Syndicate content