If there is one we have learned in the last month about University of New Mexico, it is that their leaders and supporters are die-hard Keynesians. A few weeks ago, as I note in this posting, new UNM president Robert Frank’s justification for the now-delayed UNM Hospital was built on the shakiest of foundations. His argument was essentially that the project would create jobs through Keynesian stimulus, not that we need a hospital or some other sensible justification.
In today’s paper, we see proponents of Bond Measure C (the bond for higher education) make similar arguments on the supposedly stimulative nature of higher-ed construction.
As I wrote in a brief posting about the various ballot measures:
Bonds may not raise taxes, but they do cost real money that could otherwise remain in your pockets. If a project is indeed a priority like the Paseo del Norte Interchange, by all means vote for it, but also realize that higher education in New Mexico is bloated and recently handed out a $453,093 parting gift to departing NMSU President Barbara Couture.
In other words, money that will be spent on higher ed facilities could remain in taxpayers’ pockets. That money doesn’t disappear into thin air as Keynesians would have you believe. Rather, savings and investments are used elsewhere in the economy. That’s not to say that a bond measure can’t have a positive economic impact. I think the case is strong that the Paseo interchange will generate returns in terms of less time wasted in traffic, less pollution, and higher quality of life. While higher education can have similar stimulative impacts in the long term, New Mexico needs to focus on the quality of its institutions, not the quantity of campuses and/or buildings (as we’ve pointed out).
So, by all means, vote for bond measures if you think they are a worthy investment, but don’t fall into the Keynesian stimulus trap.