A special thanks to Fred Martino of KRWG TV for moderating.
A special thanks to Fred Martino of KRWG TV for moderating.
Should insult be added to injury? Should federal taxpayers be placed on the hook for the costs of New Mexico’s Spaceport? Apparently, challenger Rocky Lara and incumbent Rep. Steve Pearce apparently believe so based on their discussion of the issue in their recent debate.
Taxpayer financing by New Mexicans for the Spaceport (totaling more than $200 million to date with little to show for it), long a point of contention with us at the Rio Grande Foundation, was bad enough, but adding federal funding to the mix here in New Mexico would invariably lead to other states getting in on the action, demanding funding for their own spaceport projects.
It is not surprising that a big-government liberal like Lara would endorse federal involvement in yet another area of our economy, but Pearce’s endorsement of the concept is truly baffling (aside from the misguided view that he’d somehow be bringing more “pork” into the district).
Rather than putting federal taxpayers on the hook for spaceport boondoggles nationwide, Pearce and Lara (not to mention other public officials) should embrace privatization of existing airports like those supposedly “socialist” Europeans. In fact, According to the 2010 ACI EUROPE report “The Ownership of Europe’s Airports, 80% of Europe’s airports operate as commercial companies (private or corporatised businesses). Moreover, nearly half of European air passengers currently travel through airports that are either fully or partially privatised.”
At the recent State Policy Network conference, I had the opportunity to sit down and discuss New Mexico’s struggling and federally-dependent economy for a Cato Daily podcast. You can listen to the podcast which is just under eight minutes in length here:
By the way, Cato’s podcasts are a great way to keep track of some of the major issues impacting your freedom. You can subscribe or check out more of them here.
Randal O’Toole is one of America’s foremost transportation experts. Unlike most such experts, his primary goal is not to control people by directing resources to politically-favored modes of transportation and away from those that actually work. Unfortunately, dedicating precious traffic lanes on Central to buses will likely make mobility worse, not better.
If you have thoughts or concerns, send the City an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
I attended one of the ongoing public hearings on Albuquerques’s proposed bus rapid transit (BRT) system last night. And, while BRT would be an improvement over Mayor Marty’s ill-fated trolley/streetcar, the BRT plan is not ready for prime time.
For starters, the plan (information on which is available here) would reduce Central traffic by one lane each way in order to dedicate one lane of traffic in each direction to buses. In places, that means only one lane of traffic in each direction on Central. Simply put, that is not enough.
The other major issue is that motorists turning left onto Central will see their ability to do so severely limited except for at major intersections. In other words, you can turn left to Central at Carlisle, but not Cornell or on several other smaller roads. Additionally, left turns from Central on to these smaller streets or to simply get to a business on the opposite side of Central will be reduced significantly. Instead, motorists will be required to make a U-turn at a major intersection and then head back down Central to the business or side-street.
A Channel 13 KRQE story covers some of the concerns area business owners and residents have with the plan.
RGF has no problem with BRT as a concept (the current Rapid Ride system is a less costly variant of BRT), but it appears that the City is planning to spend $150 million for a system that will REDUCE mobility throughout the Central corridor. Seems like an unwise use of limited funds.
If you are concerned, please send a note to the Transit Department here. Mayor Berry is at least taking a slower, more collaborative approach to BRT. We can still modify or even convince the City to abandon BRT if it is not workable.
This should be an interesting conference, particularly given the recent gyrations in the markets and the oil and gas markets in particular. I know I’ll be there!
The “National Wilderness Conference” is now under way in our fair city. For between $75 and $350, you too can celebrate LBJ’s signing of the Wilderness Act 50 years ago.
While I’m sure all of the participants walked or biked to our fair city for this event in order to not emit any more carbon into the air, one of the most radical speakers at the conference is a man named Dave Foreman who helped found the radical environmental group Earth First. Earth First members have repeatedly been jailed over the years for vandalism and the practice of tree-spiking (a practice designed to break logging equipment They have been labeled an “eco-terrorism” organization.
Anyway, you don’t need to do a bunch of research on the organizations he’s founded and been involved with to figure out that Foreman is a true anti-human, radical eco-nut. Just check some of Dave Foreman’s quotes which can easily be found on the Internet.
We advocate biodiversity for biodiversity’s sake. It may take our extinction to set things straight.
Phasing out the human race will solve every problem on earth, social and environmental.
We must make this an insecure and inhospitable place for capitalists and their projects . . . We must reclaim the roads and plowed land, halt dam construction, tear down existing dams, free shackled rivers and return to wilderness millions of tens of millions of acres of presently settled land.
With all of the talk of ebola right now, it seems that Mr. Foreman and some of the more radical attendees of this conference, now taking place in downtown Albuquerque, might be silently cheering it’s spread.
Repeatedly in defense of his marquee legislative accomplishment, President Obama claimed that “If you like your plan, you can keep your plan.”
I can’t read a man’s heart, so I can’t say with confidence whether Mr. Obama was simply lying or, like then-Speaker Pelosi, he actually hadn’t read the bill, but I can say that my family and I recently learned that under ObamaCare, you can’t keep your health care plan no matter how much you like it.
By way of background, I have had a “individual” health savings account through Blue Cross since I started with Rio Grande Foundation in early 2006. Health savings accounts are the most market oriented of health insurance plans because they provide relatively “bare-bones” insurance policies that are supplemented by pre-tax savings accounts designed to pay for day-to-day health care expenses.
Over the years I have added my wife and two young daughters to the plan. My family’s monthly premium is approximately $330 per month. Yes, we are relatively healthy, but we have used the plan and the thousands of dollars of health savings that we have built up for health care costs which included two ER visits during 2014 alone. We have also used those savings for chiropractor visits and physical therapy.
My point is that we were very happy with our insurance plan. It fit with my ideological desire to have something resembling a free market health policy that put me, not my employer or insurance company in charge of my health care decisions. It was also reasonably priced for my family and my non-profit employer.
While my plan was “grandfathered” for a year, I knew that it was scheduled to be canceled under ObamaCare at the end of 2014. I recently received a letter from Blue Cross to that effect.
I can’t even begin looking for a new insurance policy until mid-November. According to media reports, a total of 30,000 New Mexicans are in the same proverbial boat.
The good news is that more so than a vast majority of New Mexicans, I, my wife, and our kids are healthy and I know my way around government rules and regulations and, hopefully, will be able to figure out a decent new plan. The bad news is that I run a non-profit that can’t afford a massive increase in health insurance rates. I’d be “thrilled” if my monthly policy merely doubles in price under ObamaCare, but I have no way to know that until at least mid-November.
And this is the real issue with ObamaCare and so much of what government does both here in New Mexico and in Washington. Rather than setting basic rules and regulations under which all are treated equally and individuals are free to make their own choices, politicians seem to think they know more about what is good for us than we do.
ObamaCare is just the tip of the iceberg which happens to be impacting my family in a very real and personal way. Energy regulations and the blind push for politically-correct energy sources impacts our energy costs. Regulations on everyone from hair-stylists to ride-share firms presume that average people (you) are simply too stupid and ill-informed to make the “right” choice and that you need big-government there to tell you what to do.
And don’t even get me started on education which is a government-run monopoly with school choices dependant on where you live.
The Rio Grande Foundation is a think tank. We deal a lot in numbers, data, and abstract policy issues. But in this case bad policies in Washington have hit me and my family by interfering with our health care. It only makes me wish to work harder to bring more freedom to New Mexicans and ultimately our nation.
This November, I hope New Mexicans will vote for candidates that respect individuals and their choices, not the whims of bureaucrats and politicians.
Paul Gessing is the President of New Mexico’s Rio Grande Foundation. The Rio Grande Foundation is an independent, non-partisan, tax-exempt research and educational organization dedicated to promoting prosperity for New Mexico based on principles of limited government, economic freedom and individual responsibility
New Mexico’s economy has been under-performing at a time when one of the state’s major businesses, the oil industry (31% of our tax revenue) has been booming.
Unfortunately (for the state at least), between slowing growth in Europe and China and an apparent willingness on the part of the Saudis to see oil prices drop further, oil prices could be in for further declines in the intermediate future.
As a motorist, I’m thrilled. As an extremely-interested observer of New Mexico’s economy and economic policies, I wonder what this means for New Mexico. Perhaps a 1980s style oil bust could create additional momentum for free market reforms like Right to Work and pro-growth tax and regulatory reforms? We’ll see.
"Liberty on the Rocks" is a no-host happy hour discussion and information-sharing session.
Liberty on the Rocks will be held at Scalo Northern Italian Grill which is located in Nob Hill at 3500 Central Avenue SE in Albuquerque. A private room has been reserved for this event. In October, Liberty on the Rocks will take place on Thursday, October 16th from 6:00 to 7:30PM.
There is no cost for this public event, but attendees are encouraged to have dinner or drinks. Registration is not required but is much appreciated. Click here to register online … it's fast and it's free!