While there have been several postings on this site about Jonah Goldberg, I thought the readers might enjoy reading Jonah’s comments about his visit to New Mexico. I think I made the mistake of saying something nice about Bill Richardson in front of him though…
If you missed our breakfast with Jonah Goldberg, you missed a great event. Don’t believe me? Just take a look at a few of the comments posted by local bloggers. Here are the thoughts of Gary Wolf over at AWOL Civilization. Harold Morgan over at Capitol Report had this to say on the Capitol Report blog.
Jim Scarantino also had some insightful thoughts over on the New Mexico Liberty.
If you want to find out what Goldberg thinks of the ongoing economic situation, check out his recent column here.
Rarely will you ever see a more fact-base and easy to understand analysis of everyday economic issues than RGF Board member and Director of Research Ken Brown’s opinion piece on the pages of the Albuquerque Journal today.
Brown explains the “broken window fallacy” and why so-called “economic development” simply does not work. Copies of this piece should be mandatory reading for all elected officials in New Mexico and beyond. The Rio Grande Foundation will distribute this piece to all New Mexico legislators before the 2009 session.
In case you have been completely out of the loop for the last few months, you are probably aware that we are hosting a breakfast event with prominent conservative columnist Jonah Goldberg tomorrow (Friday morning) in Albuquerque.
With someone as prominent as Goldberg in town, particularly during a heated election season, we have seen some interesting blog traffic from the left-wing blogosphere. Check out this post from FBIHOP. Somewhat more surprising was the snarky attitude taken towards Goldberg by the supposedly non-partisan New Mexico Independent. The good news is that hostile publicity is better than no publicity at all.
It never ceases to amaze me when voters choose to tax themselves more. This is particularly true when the economy is on the rocks. I’d recently written about just such a tax hike issue on the ballot in Carlsbad where voters chose just yesterday to levy a half-cent hike in the gross receipts tax.
Although voters misguidedly chose to increase their tax burden, the Rio Grande spurred an interesting debate with letters to the editor and opinion articles here, here, here, and here placed in the Current-Argus.
We’ll follow Carlsbad closely to see how this major tax hike impacts Carlsbad’s economy and in our next tax friendliness study we’ll note how the hike impacts Carlsbad’s tax burden relative to other cities around the state.
A few months ago, the Rio Grande Foundation sponsored a showing of the film “Flunked” and a conversation with education reformer Ben Chavis. Video of the post-film discussion is available here.
Several people enjoyed the film and asked if copies were available for sale. This was not the case when we showed the film, but DVD’s recently went on sale. Order your copy here.
New Mexico is just one of dozens of states nationwide with massively funded state pension systems. According to this article, “by 2020, coverage will no longer be considered solvent.” Also, “the authority has an unfunded liability of about $4.1 billion but that has dropped from about $5 billion.” This improvement is the result of rate increases in recent years.
Surprisingly, despite the massive shortfall, New Mexico is actually in relatively good shape, at least according to this analysis.
There seems to be several major problems here:
1) Politicians have an incentive to over-promise what they pay state workers in the future relative to what they are paid right away. This is a means of cost-shifting onto future politicians and generations;
2) The inevitable tax increases hurt taxpayers even though they are largely unaware of the future massive burden they will be faced with;
3) From a pensioners standpoint, it is tough to be on a fixed income when fees and rates keep rising.
The single most important solution to this problem is to move away from defined benefit pension plans and give employees greater control over and responsibility for their own retirements.
Sorry to ignore the blog for a few days. I was at the annual State Policy Network conference in Scottsdale with hundreds of other think tank leaders. We exchanged ideas and generally worked to help each other create a more effective free market movement nationwide.
My posting for today is simply this very telling chart which clearly shows how Santa Fe’s gross receipts tax has risen dramatically over the years. As we’ve pointed out previously, the gross receipts tax is devastating to New Mexico’s economy because it most hurts the very businesses that generate jobs and wealth in our economy. Having jumped from 4.25 percent back in 1980 to nearly 8 percent this year and perhaps over 8 percent this fall if voters pass the Rail Runner tax, the gross receipts tax will continue to do untold harm to City and State economies.
In case you missed it, the US Government has recently decided to nationalize our two largest mortgage lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. American taxpayers are now the proud “owners” of these two houses of cards.
I pointed out a few months ago that this absurd situation has been years in the making. Investor Jim Rogers, CEO of Rogers Holdings, told CNBC Europe on Monday. “America is more communist than China is right now. You can see that this is welfare of the rich, it is socialism for the rich… it’s just bailing out financial institutions.”
As the Wall Street Journal points out, while the situation is deplorable:
By far the biggest risk here, however, is that the companies could still emerge with their business model intact. That model is the perverse mix of private profit and public risk, which gave them an incentive to make irresponsible mortgage bets with a taxpayer guarantee.
Hopefully the Bush Administration gets its act together and separates Fannie and Freddie from the government teat once and for all. Otherwise, we’re setting ourselves up for another bailout down the road.Welfare
With a hotly-contested Presidential race, not to mention Senate and Congressional races on the ballot here in New Mexico, there has not been much discussion of a tax hike that voters throughout the northern and central portions of the state will be voting on.
Voters in in Bernalillo, Sandoval, Valencia, Santa Fe, Los Alamos, Rio Arriba and Taos counties are being asked to approve a one-eight cent increase in the gross receipts tax to fund the Rail Runner and various transit projects in November. I debated the issue with Laurence Rael, Executive Director of MRCOG before the Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce’s transportation task force recently. The powerpoint of my presentation is available here.