The Washington Post has a nice piece on the GOP’s profligacy today. Congressman Flake of Arizona, one of only 8 House members to vote against the recently passed $285 BILLION transportation bill is quoted: “If you look at fiscal conservatism these days, it’s in a sorry state….Republicans don’t even pretend anymore.” In addition to being the former head of the Goldwater Institute (he left for Congress shortly before I worked there), Flake was also my representative when I lived in Arizona. I’ve lived in three congressional districts in my short voting lifetime and he is the only representative of whom I can say I am proud.
I just saw Mario at lunch and he was a little chagrined that I characterized his blog as “usually-reasonable.” For the record, I am a big fan of his blog and have to date not found an unreasonable post. Perhaps I am subconsciously jealous that his blog is more widely-read than our own?
On another note, I now realize I should not have characterized Joe Monahan’s blog as right-of-center. I apologize if I have offended either Joe or bona fide righties.
Unlike some politicos, we here at the Foundation are not ashamed to admit our mistakes.
New Mexico has a small but growing community of bloggers. Here, in no particular order, are some of my personal favorites:
Mario Burgos: His is a usually-reasonable right-of-center perspective from an active Republican.
New Mexico Politics with Joe Monahan: Another right-of-center perspective from an even more active Republican.
Duke City Fix: A mostly-apolitical mélange from a very diverse group. Their newest writer is a senior at my alma mater!
Albloggerque: A left-of-center chronicle of life around Nob Hill from a socially-conscious educator named Jon Knudsen.
Gregpayne.com: A right-of-center blog from a New Mexico State Representative and ubiquitous commentator.
Democracy for New Mexico: At face-value it would appear that we at the Foundation have very little in common with this decidedly lefty-group. That said, I’ve always believed that libertarians and progressives have a lot more in common than most people think. Both groups are skeptical of “big power,” “special interests” and invasions of civil liberty. Furthermore, both share a deep concern for the plight of the poor and the powerless. Now, if we could only get the progressives to appreciate that the best way to lift the poor out of poverty is to permit free individuals to interact in a free market.
And finally, we have the latest entrant:
NewMexicoMatters: A blog from a self-proclaimed “non-blogger,” this center-left New Mexico patriot’s commentary looks promising. Welcome!
More proof today that New Mexico’s education system is moving (running?) in the wrong direction. As many states and communities around the country are contemplating education reform which would break the public school system’s monopoly on education, we in New Mexico are talking about strengthening that monopoly.
This morning’s Albuquerque Journal reports (subscription required) that six Albuquerque schools are going to start requiring that parents produce four proof-of-residency documents in order to enroll their students. Apparently, there is a concern that these schools are overcrowded. Many suspect that there are students going to these schools who—gasp!—don’t live in the district!
James Monroe Middle School principal Vernon Martinez said that his school is even considering home check-ups to verify residency.
This is very sad.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see a day when providers of education are subject to the same level of competition as grocery stores? Wouldn’t it be great to see a day when schools are no longer assigned their customers but actually have to work for them like any other business? I hope that some day every public school in the state will compete with every other public AND private school for the privilege of educating our youth. Economics would predict and empirical evidence has shown that when schools do compete, education standards improve.
When I was in grade school I was lucky enough to have an industrious mother. She and an equally-industrious mother of my good friend worked diligently to navigate the red-tape and get us transferred to Jefferson Middle School. I feel that the education I got there was far superior to what I would have received in my home-district school (which shall remain anonymous). Every year our mothers hunted down the obscure forms and applied for a transfer. My friend and I came from a privileged background. We had parents who could afford to spend the time to figure out how to get around the red-tape. Unfortunately, most in New Mexico are not so lucky. Most are forced to accept the school to which they are assigned. Now it looks like even more students will have to accept mediocrity.
Yesterday’s Albuquerque Journal (subscription required) reported a record windfall in state tax revenue. There are lots of ideas about what to do with the money: spend it on “the kids,” give it back to the people in a rebate, reduce tax rates, etc.
Conspicuously absent is the sort of sentiment expressed by Grover Cleveland when he presided over record surpluses during his first presidential term:
“When more of the people’s sustenance is exacted through the form of taxation than is necessary to meet the just obligations of government and expenses of its economical administration, such exaction becomes ruthless extortion and a violation of the fundamental principles of free government.”
I wonder how much longer we can call consequences “unintended” when we can actually predict how new rules will modify behavior. This today from NCPA:
With the implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), now
three years old, the amount of information about schools presented to
the general public is at an all-time high. However, the average kid in
a failing institution is no closer to escaping now than before the law
was passed, says Lisa Snell, director of the Reason Foundation’s
Federal and state legislators have a newfound focus on school
accountability, but scant attention is being paid to the quality of
data they are using, whether the topic is violence, test scores or
dropout rates. Consider:
o In the 2003-04 school year, 47 states and the District of
Columbia reported they were home to not a single
unsafe school, yet, in D.C. alone, the D.C. Office of the
Inspector General reported more than 1,700 “serious
security incidents” in city schools, including 464 weapons
o Economists from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of
Government explored the prevalence of cheating in public
schools and found that on any given test, the scores
of students in 3 to 6 percent of classrooms are doctored
by teachers or administrators.
o Administrators often misrepresent the dropout rate by
counting students who leave as transfers and not
dropouts, like in the 2003 state audit of the Houston district
where more than half of the 5,500 students who left in
the 2002 school year should have been declared dropouts but
These distortions hide the extent of schools’ failures, deceive
taxpayers about what our ever-increasing education budgets are buying
and keep kids locked in failing institutions, says Snell. And experts
believe the incentives for teachers and administrators to manipulate
data will only increase as schools begin to feel the consequences of
Source: Lisa Snell, “How Schools Cheat,” Reason, Volume 37, Number
2, June 2005.
By the way, if you do not subscribe to Reason Magazine you should.
I consider myself fit for my advancing years (although I wouldn’t consider running 50 miles). Now comes this study (subscription):
“Exercise can’t hold off the effects of aging, but it can improve an elderly person’s chances of hanging onto an independent lifestyle, researchers said.”
Darn! At least I am still independent.
Not content with this abomination, the Richardson Administration wants us to blow even more of our tax dollars for corporate welfare.
Here is an excellent primer on why wind power is wasteful and hurts the environment. Why cannot we just let the idiots in California blow their money on wind power fantasies? In the highly unlikely event that they actually come up with efficient, environmentally friendly energy sources NM’s utilities will have every incentive to purchase the power or use the technology.
Thanks to NCPA for the link.
BTW, it looks like the House and Senate are poised to provide billions more in corporate welfare for ethanol subsidies. Will this craziness never end?
In today’s Albuquerque Journal journalist Colleen Heild (subscription) summarizes Bill’s $3 millon marketing campaign for the state. She makes the following statement:
“The $3 million to be spent in the first year under the new contract pales in comparison to what some states spend on such promotions. Texas, for example, planned to spend nearly $14 million on domestic advertising while Arizona budgeted $8.5 million last fiscal year, according to the Travel Industry Association of America.”
Journalists (and even some economists) need to do a better job of interpreting such figures rather than taking them at face value. The three states are not alike. The Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates NM’s 2004 population at 1,903,000; Texas at 22,490,000 and Arizona at 5,744,000.
That means NM’s planned expenditure is roughly 6.5% higher per capita than Arizona’s last expenditure this year. And NM’s planned expenditure is a whopping 153% higher per capita than Texas.
Guess who is going to get the Bill for this marketing? (Hint: It won’t be Bill.) Will Bill’s spending binge never end?
Update 7/25/05: If we calculate the Bill based on personal income in each state, we find that NM’s planned expenditure will take some 18 percent more of personal income than Arizona’s last year expenditure. And we find that NM’s planned expenditure will take some 186 percent more of personal income than Texas’s planned expenditure.