New Mexico businessman and entrepreneur Steve McKee was the keynote speaker at a recent Rio Grande Foundation luncheon. He gave an optimistic and detailed talk about the ways in which New Mexico policymakers can turn our state around and even beat Texas in the process. Check out the informative and even inspirational talk below:
The invaluable Tax Foundation has released a map that exposes another disturbing policy reality about New Mexico.
The Land of Enchantment imposes a higher wine tax than four of its neighbors: Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona, and Colorado. (Utah, along with four other states, controls alcohol sales within its borders.)
But the full story is a bit more complex. New Mexico’s economic-development bureaucracy touts the “preferential tax rate” the state offers to winemakers. Converting from liters, New Mexico imposes a tax of 38¢ per gallon for its smallest vintners. Mid-range winemakers pay a tax of 76¢ per gallon. The largest enterprises — more than than 2.1 million gallons of crushed grapes produced annually — pay the full tax of $1.70.
The lesson: Vintners in the Land of Enchantment are welcome to be successful — just not too successful.
The Supreme Court today announced a 6-3 decision upholding the King v. Burwell case which revolved around whether Congress did or did not intend to give subsidies to residents of states that did not set up exchanges under the law.
The Rio Grande Foundation had previously outlined potential scenarios assuming a reversal by the Court. This was based on both the clear language of the law and statements like those from ObamaCare architect Jonathan Gruber:
In terms of the decision’s impact on American health care and our society in general, here are some initial reactions
Cons: The ObamaCare law remains largely intact with future dire consequences for American health care; the Supreme Court clearly ruled (again) on political expediency rather than the law as written driving another stake in the heart of the rule of law.
Pros: Obama and the Democrats truly “own” this law and all of its impacts now. They passed a poorly-written and ill-conceived law. It now stands largely intact. When/if the law is considered a failure, there will be a strong impetus for reforms in the opposite, hopefully free market direction.
Rio Grande Foundation Speaker Series Event:
State Control vs. Self Control
Fresh off his presentation at FreedomFest (described as the World’s Largest Gathering of Free Minds) in Las Vegas, Tom Palmer, the executive vice president for international programs at Atlas Network will be visiting Albuquerque to discuss the important differences between state control and self control at a Rio Grande Foundation-sponsored luncheon.
State Control or Self-Control?
When governments usurp our freedom they diminish personal responsibility for making good choices at the same time. And when they remove from us responsibility for our choices, they not only generate more bad choices, but they under-mine our freedom. Whether we call it the Nanny State or the Welfare State or the Prohibitionist State, big government is assaulting our freedom and undermining our responsibility. Dr. Palmer will show why freedom and responsibility go hand in hand at every level, from the theoretical to the legal to the very practical, with examples ranging from modern day prohibition of drugs and alcohol to the growing numbers of people on long-term welfare and disability support.
- Location: Marriott Pyramid 5151 San Francisco Rd NE, Albuquerque, NM 87109
- When: Monday, July 13, 2015, 12:00 noon to 1:00pm
- Cost: Seating is limited and can be purchased at the discounted price of $30 until Saturday, July 6, 2015; $40 after the 6th.
Dr. Tom G. Palmer is responsible for establishing operating programs in 14 languages and managing programs for a worldwide network of think tanks at Atlas Network. He is also a senior fellow at Cato Institute and director of Cato University. He frequently lectures in North America, Europe, Eurasia, Africa, Latin America, India, China and throughout Asia, as well as the Middle East on political science, public choice, civil society, and the moral, legal, and historical foundations of individual rights. He has published articles on politics and morality in scholarly journals such as the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, Ethics, Critical Review, and Constitutional Political Economy, as well as in publications such as Slate, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Die Welt, Al Hayat, and the Washington Post. He is the author of Realizing Freedom: Libertarian Theory, History, and Practice (expanded edition 2014), and the editor of the Morality of Capitalism (2011), After the Welfare State (2012), Why Liberty (2013), and Peace, Love & Liberty (2014). Palmer received his B.A. in liberal arts from St. Johns College in Annapolis, Maryland, his M.A. in philosophy from the Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C., and his doctorate in politics from Oxford University.
Ball State University’s Center for Business and Economic Research has more bad news for the Land of Enchantment.
The center’s “2015 Manufacturing & Logistics Report Card” analyzes “how each state ranks among its peers in several areas of the economy that underlie the success of manufacturing and logistics. These specific measures include the health of the manufacturing and logistics industries, the state of human capital, the cost of worker benefits, diversification of the industries, state-level productivity and innovation, expected fiscal liability, the state tax climate, and global reach.”
The report card’s metrics “were chosen as those most likely to be considered by site selection experts for manufacturing and logistics firms, and by the prevailing research on economic growth.” New Mexico flunked five of the nine categories:
Manufacturing Industry Health: F
Logistics Industry Health: F
Human Capital: F
Worker Benefit Costs: C
Tax Climate: C
Expected Liability Gap: D
Global Reach: F
Sector Diversification: F
Productivity and Innovation: D
Job-training “incentives,” increased spending on government schools, GRT deductions, and committing more severance-tax revenue to “critical community infrastructure”? The strategy isn’t working. It’s time for something different.
Solar ranks right up there with mom and apple pie among many who believe that it is the power source of our future. Unfortunately, a recent incident right here in Albuquerque, highlighted an under-appreciated problem with solar panels: fire. In fact, the Taylor Ranch Community Center which is not far from my house had a fire on Friday that seems to have been caused by the panels on the building’s roof (per KOB TV below).
Although an exact understanding of the scope of solar panel fires was difficult to find, it is a relatively common problem caused by manufacturing flaws. Solar panel fires can be particularly challenging for first-responders because the panels may remain electrified even as they (or the building burns).
Thankfully, in the case of the Taylor Ranch fire, there is a fire house literally across the street and apparently the fire fighters were on the spot quickly, but the gym floor is likely ruined. I wonder how a fire like this impacts the net carbon situation when it comes to these solar panels?
The ABQ Journal’s Winthrop Quigley has been on a real roll recently. After successive articles in support of bus rapid transit, he claims in his latest column that “Medicaid Could Boost New Mexico’s Economy.” Of course, rather than concerning himself with the additional burden that paying 10% of the program expansion’s costs ($120 million annually) starting in 2017, he simply concludes that Medicaid will make our work force healthier and economic growth will more than make up for the added expense. Really?
Apparently, Quigley hasn’t heard of the single most important study of Medicaid’s impact on health outcomes from Oregon. The study “represents the first use of a randomized controlled design to evaluate the impact of Medicaid in the United States.” According to the study’s authors:
1) Medicaid has no statistically significant effect on employment or earnings (there goes Quigley’s economoic argument right there);
Of course, Medicaid expansion did result in even more spending on other government programs:
2) Medicaid increases receipt of food stamps (SNAP);
3) Medicaid coverage increased use of the emergency department across a broad range of types of visits and subgroups.
These are all quotes taken directly from the “findings page.” There is healthy debate over what, if any health and mental wellness benefits Medicaid provides and whether those are worth the vast costs. What is not debatable (according to Oregon’s “gold standard” study) is the thesis that expanding Medicaid will not “boost the economy.” That thesis which Quigley never once mentions in his defense of Medicaid is completely unsubstantiated by real-world evidence to date.
Of course, basic logic would also call into question the idea that putting more people on government welfare will be a good thing for the economy. After all, those dollars aren’t created out of thin air, they are taxed and borrowed by government. That would be a whole different level of critical thinking about the Keynesian consensus.
Two Albuquerque city councilors have drafted the “Fair Workweek Act,” which would mandate that businesses offer nonsupervisory employees paid sick leave. It would also require the posting of schedules “three weeks in advance,” “modest compensation for last-minute schedule changes,” and “adequate rest time between shifts.”
Really? Are more regulations the answer to Albuquerque’s ailing economy?
The city has 17,100 fewer jobs today than when it reached its pre-Great Recession employment peak in March 2007. That’s not a misprint — it’s been more than eight years, and Albuquerque has yet to climb back to the number of jobs it had nearly two years before Barack Obama assumed the presidency.
New Mexico’s political establishment continues to cling to entertainment-industry tax credits as critical “economic development.” (The evidence strongly suggests that subsidizing Hollywood doesn’t boost the state’s economy, but let’s leave that trifling fact aside for now.)
This week, two states decided that movie-and-television corporatism isn’t for them.
Alaska’s governor, staring down a state fiscal crisis, signed legislation that repealed the Last Frontier’s program. State Sen. Bill Stoltze (R-Chugiak) noted that the tax credits had “done some good things to different communities around Alaska,” but “had a pretty heavy cost to our treasury.”
On Thursday, the Detroit Free Press reported that “the state Senate voted … to end incentives for the film industry and phase out funding for the state’s film office and the House quickly concurred in the action.” In comments that surely enraged noted economist and public-policy analyst Mitch Albom, Rep. Dan Lauwers (R-Brockway Twp.) declared that it was time to “time to drop the curtain on this failed experiment,” in favor of “funding our transportation system.” It’s now up to the Wolverine State’s governor to decide whether to follow legislators’ lead.
Nothing symbolizes water in New Mexico like Elephant Butte lake. With a relatively wet May and June, I got to thinking both about the Butte and whether its water levels had rebounded much and I also was contemplating the supposed connection between climate change and the recent drought we experienced in New Mexico.
This is the kind of thing I think about sometimes when I’m out walking by the Rio Grande and see it so full and running as strong as it was recently.
So, I went online to find out how much Elephant Butte Lake had rebounded with the recent, relatively wet spring and early summer. The answer is available at this website, but is summed up in the chart below and the answer is that the lake has rebounded a little, but not much:
The really fascinating thing is to look back at historical Lake levels which have fluctuated dramatically over the years. As seen below, the Lake was quite full all the way from about 1980-2004. It is currently at a far lower level (18.6% full to be exact), but this is by no means a historically-low level even going back to the early 1920s.
What does this all mean? To me it seems to indicate that while droughts will happen — we live in a desert after all — using Elephant Butte Lake as a proxy for water supplies in New Mexico, it would seem that there is not a great correlation between climate change/global warming and water. I am not a scientist. If Elephant Butte Lake (which is of course managed) is not a reasonable proxy for water supplies in New Mexico, I’d be happy to know. The lake does receive water from a majority of New Mexico’s land area as seen below: