Check out this exciting free debate event taking place in Las Cruces on Tuesday, October, 21. See flier below for details.
The New Mexico Freedom Hour is presented by the Rio Grande Foundation. It next airs on Saturday, October 11, 2014 from 12pm to 1pm on 770 KKOB AM. This week we are very pleased to announce that Albuquerque Mayor RJ Berry will be joining host Paul Gessing for the full hour.
The show will be focused on a variety of economic policy issues relevant to Albuquerque residents including the city’s overall economy, the Administration’s proposed bus rapid transit and wi-fi systems, “Innovate ABQ,” and the ongoing fight over “union time.” We’ll also discuss the bigger picture including the struggling state and local economies and what the Legislature and Gov. Martinez can do to help spur economic growth in New Mexico’s largest city.
Listeners are encouraged not only to tune in and listen, but to call in with questions: 505-243-3333.
On principle, I don’t think taxpayers should be forced to pay for public television or radio. It’s not really a big deal within the overall federal budget (only $500 million annually or so for PBS & NPR), but that’s not the point.
For starters, it is hard to justify state-owned media in a free society. But when it comes to New Mexico’s state-owned media, there are some extreme cases of bias. Take the show “Report from Santa Fe.” hosted by Lorene Mills. I don’t watch the show, but I get emails from Albuquerque’s PBS station KNME on a weekly basis touting the latest guest.
Most recently, economist Richard D. Wolff joined was interviewed to discuss his books: “Occupy the Economy” and “Capitalism Hits the Fan: The Global Economic Meltdown and What to Do About It.” I’m sure it was Wolff’s objective analysis of free market capitalism that generated favorable reviews from none other than Noam Chomsky.
To be fair, “Report from Santa Fe” is about more than politics and New Mexico politicians of both parties have appeared on the show, but when it comes to national luminaries of a philosophical persuasion, the direction is always left. If Wolff’s interview was balanced by a separate discussion from a free market economist exploring the benefits of capitalism, this would be less of an issue (I’d still want to end funding for public broadcasting for the reasons outlined above), but Wolff is only among the most extreme leftists to have appeared on the show recently:
Martha Burk, former head of NOW;
Ecologist Dr. Sandra Steingraber, described as the “new Rachel Carson”;
Tim deChristopher (radical environmental activist)
Gus Speth, Co-Founder, Natural Resources Defense Council
Rio Grande Foundation brings no less than four prominent conservative authors/luminaries to New Mexico a year including Robert Bryce on December 9 or 2014. What do you say to some ideological balance?
The phrase has appeared in several articles recently, most recently, this AP article which recently appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. The complaint behind the article is that “luxuries” like Iphones, cars, televisions, and computers are dropping in price while everyday expenses like health care and education are going up. The author seems oblivious, but quotes former CBO director Douglas Holtz-Eakin who notes that “colleges and hospitals — unlike automakers — rarely compete on price.”
That is a nice way of saying that education and health care are government-dominated while consumer products are generally produced in something approaching a free market. The image below illustrates the trend nicely.
Rather than the old line that “X is too important to be left to the private sector,” it would seem that essentials like education and health care are too important for the government to continue to play such a large (and increasing) role in their provision.
Rob Nikolewski interviewed Senate Finance Committee Chair John Arthur-Smith on September 27, 2014. The discussion centered on New Mexico’s economy.
Paul Gessing interviewed Aloysius Hogan of the Competitive Enterprise Institute on government pension issues during the first half of the show and interviewed site selection expert John Boyd about the Tesla decision, why he thinks Tesla chose Nevada over New Mexico, and what New Mexico should consider doing to make it more attractive as a business destination in the future.
Gessing’s interviews are available here.
Be sure to tune in to 770 KKOB AM on October 11 from noon to 1pm as Paul Gessing is scheduled to interview Albuquerque Mayor RJ Berry on the Albuquerque economy and his efforts as Mayor of New Mexico’s largest city.
I’d typically say that the chances of my penning an opinion piece with a representative of the AFSCME government employee labor union would be as likely as my penning an article with the Easter Bunny (Like Franklin Delano Roosevelt, I don’t believe in unionizing government workers). Anyway, the pension reforms passed a few years back are worth defending even if they didn’t go nearly far enough.
AFSCME and the Rio Grande Foundation usually have very different positions on a wide range of issues including contentious disagreements over New Mexico’s government pension plans.
Even though we sometimes disagree on the scope and role of government, each of our organizations supports preserving the pension reform that was passed by an overwhelming bipartisan majority in both houses and signed by the Governor in 2013. Specifically, we oppose rolling back that reform in the name of recruiting and retention or special treatment for select groups of employees, including opposing the reintroduction of double dipping.
Prior to the bipartisan pension reform, the two funds were looking at a combined $12 billion in unfunded liabilities, and were on a trajectory to have over $60 billion in unfunded liabilities in the next three decades. While there is serious disagreement between us over whether the pension reforms went far enough, there is 100% agreement between us that the reforms were a step in the right direction.
Unfortunately, some groups may be trying to cut deals with politicians during election season to give their members special treatment and to worsen the solvency of the funds. There are legitimate recruiting and retention problems across state and local governments, but using the pension funds as a piggy bank to sweeten employee compensation packages is a terribly fiscally irresponsible idea.
Yes, the condition of the funds is improving — that was the entire point of our bipartisan reform – but we need to let the reforms work before there’s any discussion of undoing even small parts of the difficult and excellent work achieved by leaders in both parties.
Undermining a successful bi-partisan reform for the sake of small political favors during election season would be a disservice to New Mexico’s taxpayers and employees alike.
Paul Gessing is president of the Rio Grande Foundation, New Mexico’s free market think tank;
Carter Bundy is legislative director at the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, a union representing primarily government workers in New Mexico.
The free market Cato Institute ranks the fiscal policies of the nation’s governors every two years and Gov. Martinez’s policies show her to be among the best in the nation on fiscal issues with an overall ranking of 6th.
While notable tax-cutters McCrory (NC) and Brownback (KS) were the top-performers, Martinez outperformed neighboring governors Perry (TX) and Fallin (OK), not to mention Brewer (AZ) and Herbert (UT). Colorado’s Hickenlooper came in 2nd-last on the list beating out only Jerry Brown (CA).
Of Martinez, the Cato report noted:
Governor Martinez scores above average on spending and has pushed major tax reforms. Her proposed general fund spending increases have averaged a modest 2.4 percent in recent years. She has pursued tax cuts to make New Mexico more economically competitive. In 2012 she signed a bill reducing gross receipts taxes on inputs to construction and manufacturing, and she has called for exempting 40,000 small businesses from the gross receipts tax. Her biggest tax policy success was pushing through a cut to the corporate income tax rate from 7.6 to 5.9 percent, phased in over five years.
While New Mexico’s economy remains sluggish, there can be no doubt that Martinez has faced more difficult economic and political challenges than most.
Full listing below:
The chicken long ago flew the coup in New Mexico when it comes to Medicaid expansion under the ObamaCare health law (the same one that resulted in my insurance policy being canceled). But battles are being waged nationwide over the issue of whether or not to expand government dependency.
Our friends at the Foundation for Government Accountability recently uncovered some information that went into this shocking video which shows that ex-cons are the first in line when it comes to obtaining health care (in front of the poor and truly needy) under expanded Medicaid.
If you prefer to read rather than watch your news, check out an article on the topic. Of course, it is worth pointing out that Medicaid doesn’t actually lead to significant health gains among served populations.
As I expected when Winthrop Quigley began writing his “Upfront” column for the Albuquerque Journal, his writing is a constant source of material to analyze and criticize. The latest Quigley column notes New Mexico’s high poverty rate and, in an almost childlike fashion, questions why New Mexico is so darn poor.
In true Quigley fashion, he cites several potential reasons for New Mexico’s poverty, but overlooks the single-greatest factor: New Mexico’s low levels of economic freedom. According to the Canada-based Fraser Institute, New Mexico is the least-free state in the USA. And, according to a variety of rankings of “business-friendliness,” (closely-related to economic freedom), New Mexico also performs poorly.
Economic freedom and free markets couldn’t possibly have anything to do with economic prosperity, could it? Of course it could despite Quigley’s obvious efforts to ignore these issues.
Check out the chart below from the Heritage Foundation which puts out annual “Index of Economic Freedom.” Clearly, having greater economic freedom has a positive impact on economic prosperity on a global basis. Is there any reason to believe that this trend does not apply to US states including New Mexico?
Environmentalists have such power when it comes to formulating public policy and influencing what elected officials (and bureaucrats do) that, environmentalists often speak like bureaucrats, hiding their true intentions. This article on the shutdown of half of the generation capacity at San Juan Generating Station which quoted an environmental leader at length gave me pause due to the stark differences between stated views and intentions and reality.
The following includes actual quotes from the Sierra Club representative followed by explanations of their real intentions in bold.
The Sierra Club rep. is quoted as saying, “Of course, what we’d like to see is New Mexico transition off of fossil fuel.” In other words,
“We really want to use government force to stop PNM from using cost-effective and reliable coal to fulfill consumers’ demand for electricity no matter what consumers want.”
“We’re looking at more ways to push renewables. We see this as a prime opportunity for PNM to invest in renewables. There’s plenty of opportunity potentially for PNM to really launch New Mexico into the clean energy future.”
“We at the Sierra Club have zero at stake financially (being neither major electricity consumers, nor having capitol at stake) have all the answers and should be able to use government force to tell PNM how to supply electricity to their customers.”
“Coal plants face tremendous uncertainty, and the remaining units at San Juan are no exception. State authorities and ratepayers should carefully analyze the potentially costly commitment PNM may be making in any coal contract.”
“The Sierra Club and our radical allies both in and outside of government will do everything we can to increase both the political and economic costs of coal and other reliable fossil fuels to the point that you will simply give in in to our demands.”