Just when we thought Richardson was going to leave us, NBC News is reporting that he’s withdrawn his name from consideration for Commerce Secretary. As I wrote previously, his nomination was a mixed bag. I believe the withdrawal of his nomination is also a mixed bag although for Diane Denish I’m sure it is just outright annoying.
Now that the education establishment is lobbying for higher taxes, the pleas for “adequate” education funding are pouring forth. Recently, Sharon Morgan of the National Education Association New Mexico argued that point on the pages of the Albuquerque Journal.
The problem is that among the platitudes and discussion of schools as “community hubs,” Morgan makes absolutely no arguments to support more education spending. After all, what exactly is “adequate?” How much spending do proponents believe will ensure that our children receive an excellent education? The fact is that our current education is a bottomless pit in need of unlimited taxpayer money because there few incentives for schools to improve and compete to serve children.
Now that gas prices are back down it looks like the tax hikers will be out in force demanding a higher gas tax on filling up at the pump. A federal commission just recommended a 50% increase in the federal tax. Of course, with Obama’s infrastructure “stimulus” expected to cost nearly $800 billion, debt won’t pay for it all. Of course, raising taxes to expand government won’t exactly generate economic growth.
Personally, I’d be okay with some kind of increase in the gas tax to improve fuel efficiency and provide for relatively consistent pricing as long as taxes were reduced elsewhere, but tax hikers rarely wish to give taxpayers’ their money back at all.
Rather than raising gas taxes (ostensibly to fund infrastructure), it makes the most sense to get the feds and Congress out of the infrastructure business entirely. This was actually a Republican initiative in Congress a few years ago and by putting the states in control it would at least force them to pay for “Bridge’s to Nowhere” on their own without bilking federal taxpayers.
You may already be aware that the Rio Grande Foundation has a weekly radio show on AM 1550 on Saturdays from 9am til 10am. If you get the chance, listen to the show. You will get information not available anywhere else on the radio. If you can’t listen to the show live, listen to a podcast of the show here. Check back weekly to listen to each new podcast.General Info
Despite much criticism (mostly from the left), the Electoral College by which the United States chooses its presidents is one of the greatest innovations of the Founding Fathers. Better still (at least for New Mexicans), the effect of the Electoral College is that it increases the influence of rural and sparsely-populated states (like New Mexico) relative to larger, more densely populated states.
So, why does New Mexico Rep. Mimi Stewart want to abolish the Electoral College? After all, if you paid even the slightest attention to the recent election, you would have seen that both McCain and Obama spent an inordinate amount of time in New Mexico given the fact that the state’s 5 electoral votes (out of a possible 538) account for just less than one percent of the overall vote.
Of course, those 5 votes can make the difference between victory and defeat in a closely-contested presidential race. Does Stewart really believe that candidates would concentrate such attention on NM in order to woo our 2 million residents, accounting for .066 percent of the popular vote?
The fact is that New Mexico receives far more attention from candidates under the current system than it would under a popular vote system under which candidates would campaign only in densely-populated states and “flyover country” would become, well “flyover country” for presidential candidates.
Perhaps Stewart will further advance her “anti-New Mexico” agenda by attempting to return some of our outsized federal largesse to the Treasury?
With stories of packed trains and huge demand, the average person (subscription required) might be led to believe that the Rail Runner can now be called a success. But is it true? Is New Mexico’s commuter train really a success?
Not by a long shot.
First and foremost, like we saw when the train originally opened, there are plenty of joy-riders taking to the rails in droves right now to see what a free trip to Santa Fe on the train is like. Once commuters and other regular customers become the bulk of the train’s customers, we’ll have a better idea on ridership. But if high ridership continues, doesn’t that make the train a success? Not by a long shot.
Let’s put this in perspective. This train cost taxpayers $400 million to build. It will cost $20 million annually to operate, $19 million of which will be again financed by taxpayers. Only $1 million will come from fares. So, what we have is a massive subsidy. Imagine if the Waltons and other shareholders didn’t care about turning a profit and Wal Mart charged $50 for a new HD television and $25 for a Nintendo Wii. If they did that, there is no doubt that customers would flock to their stores. Of course, if they sold these items for such low prices, Wal Mart would likely go out of business (or at least stop making money) before long, so they instead charge market prices for their goods.
Transportation should be no different from Wal Mart. I as a New Mexico taxpayer should not be forced to subsidize your trip to Santa Fe or Belen any more than I should be paying for your HD TV. Unfortunately, this is not conventional wisdom in this, the age of bailouts.
Nonetheless, those who call the Rail Runner a success are ignorant of economics and simply aren’t weighing the projects’ full cost.
Merry Christmas. For a touching and informative story on the real meaning of Christmas, check out Jim Scarantino’s column in today’s Albuquerque Journal. Unfortunately, I have no link because I couldn’t find it on their site. Anyway, it is fantastic.
Also, be sure to tune in to AM 1550 from 9am until 10am in and around Albuquerque for a discussion of Christmas and whether or not capitalism and free markets are compatible with Christianity. It’s sure to be an interesting discussion.
In case this is your first time to our blog, the Rio Grande Foundation recently released its 2008 Piglet Book on wasteful government spending. Read more about it here. As you might imagine, there was a good deal of discussion on various New Mexico blogs relating to the report.
Mario Burgos did a nice write up over at his blog marioburgos.com.
Another space-focused blog wondered why we’d focus on “small potatoes” in our report in this age of bailouts.
The blog New Mexico Central also covered the story.
Lastly, I appeared on KOB’s show “Eye on New Mexico” last Sunday to discuss wasteful spending in New Mexico and around the country. You can watch the video here.
I was downtown the other day and received a ticket on my car. I wondered what I did wrong and when I took a look at the ticket, I saw this. How many of you, dear readers, knew that parking more than 18 inches from the curb was an infraction? It would seem that our City’s meter maids are being charged with closing at least part of Albuquerque’s budget gap.
It would seem that if Albuquerque’s meter maids are going to be so aggressive it kind of limits the usefulness of efforts to get people to come downtown, right?