Yes, Tesla should be able to sell their cars directly

As has been widely reported, electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla recently set up shop on the Nambé Pueblo near Santa Fe. The company which typically sells its cars directly to consumers had been unable to do this directly under New Mexico Law.

Curiously this move drew praise from Gov. Lujan Grisham who has in the past supported legislation to repeal New Mexico’s ban on direct-to-consumer vehicle sales. Environmental groups which like electric vehicles also cheered the move.

At the Rio Grande Foundation we agree that direct-to-consumer car sales should NOT be banned by the State. And, while tribal sovereignty is also a mixed bag (tax differences lead to high rates of cigarette smuggling in NM and loss of gas tax revenues due to sales on tribal lands), we’d love to see Native tribes and pueblos consider additional options for policy competition with the State.

Once upon a time (until NM did it) tribes could have made a mint on marijuana legalization. They still could if they got rid of government red tape and allowed free market health care to flourish. What are some ways YOU think tribes and pueblos might use their sovereignty to compete with the State?

Tesla turns a record profit despite new Model S and Model X delay - The  Verge

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California plans to build FIVE new natural gas plants to avoid blackouts

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham fancies her state to be like California. It HAS trended “deep blue” in recent years, but her “Energy Transition Act” is arguably her marquee “progressive”/environmental accomplishment. The law dramatically shifts New Mexico electricity production to so-called “renewables” in the years to come, but more immediately shuts down the coal-fired San Juan Generating Station (owned by PNM) by June of 2022 or next summer.

New Mexico’s law (alongside California’s plan to eliminate electricity from fossil fuels) reflects the “cutting edge” of environmental policy in the US, but California’s Gov. Gavin Newsom announced last week that the State would be building at least FIVE NEW “temporary” natural gas-fueled electricity generation plants  in order to avoid blackouts. The plants will cost $171.5 million each. 

As THIS report notes, California had been in the process of shutting down existing natural gas plants including some that had opened in 2009. With New Mexico’s PNM utility saying blackouts and brownouts are imminent upon the shuttering of San Juan Generating Station next June, will Gov. MLG risk blackouts or brownouts just a few months before her reelection?

Oh, and Sen. Martin Heinrich will NOT be happy!


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Liberal columnist ALMOST gets it on plastic bag ban

At the Gessing household (located in Albuquerque) which includes two dogs, the supply of thin plastic bags is almost gone. The City’s bag ban took effect once again on August 1 after having been waived since early on in the pandemic. Between trash can liners and pet waste pick up, our thin plastic bags disappear quickly.

Joline Gutierrez Krueger is a reliably left-wing columnist at the ABQ Journal, but even she asks some uncomfortable questions in a recent article. The thicker bags (which remain legal) are, as  Krueger notes, are “made with even more plastic (than the thin ones).” And, “The thicker bags, the (environmental) groups say, take longer to decompose and introduce even more toxic chemicals into the environment.”

The columnist rightly notes (as reflected by Gessing’s own experience in attempting to reuse the thicker, more environmentally-damaging bags,

These (thicker) bags are no substitutes for the thinner bags, which were handy as bathroom wastebasket liners, kitty litter disposal and dog poop collecting. Opponents of bag bans say consumers are now buying small bags for those tasks, thus rendering bag bans senseless since they ultimately bring more plastic into the environment.

And plastic bags are not acceptable under the city’s recycling program.

How does any of this make sense?

We agree! What’s the upshot? We’ll push the new City Council and (hopefully) mayor to repeal this ill-conceived ban. But, in the near term it means a big grocery/bag re-stocking trip grocery shopping in (bag ban free) Rio Rancho this weekend.

banning plastic bags is dumb

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Tipping Point New Mexico episode 334: Gubernatorial Candidate Karen Bedonie

On this week’s interview podcast, Paul talks with Karen Bedonie. Bedonie is running for Governor of New Mexico. Paul and Karen discuss her background and what caused her to run for office. They also discuss many of the problems and issues facing New Mexico and how Karen believes her background and experience provide a unique perspective to solve these problems.

You can learn more about Karen Bedonie’s campaign at

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Biden’s big overreach on vax mandate

Yesterday President Biden announced that his Administration would be imposing a sweeping vaccine mandate impacting 100 million Americans. For the record, the Rio Grande Foundation supports vaccines for COVID 19 and other diseases, but we are deeply concerned about government mandating their usage for several reasons.

According to the Associated Press, “The expansive rules mandate that ALL employers with more than 100 workers require them to be vaccinated or test for the virus weekly, affecting about 80 million Americans. And the roughly 17 million workers at health facilities that receive federal Medicare or Medicaid also will have to be fully vaccinated.

Biden is also requiring vaccination for employees of the executive branch and contractors who do business with the federal government — with no option to test out.” The mandate will be promulgated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) which is a rare and interesting move.

Legally, while vaccine mandates have indeed been upheld in courts, the case for a presidentially-imposed vaccine mandate is questionable.

Also, there is no consideration for natural immunity on the part of those who have had the virus. It would seem that this mandate is less about safety than about forced compliance.

Finally, while there are NUMEROUS practical and legal problems with this mandate, it is interesting to note how Biden and the Democrats’ selectively use “equity” and “disparate impact.” Both of those terms point to equal outcomes among the races regardless of other factors. Black and Hispanic Americans are the most likely groups to be unvaccinated.  When they lose their jobs for lack of a vaccine it would seem that civil rights lawsuits would be filed.

Aside from the constitutional problems with his mandate, the unions have every reason to push back against this arbitrary change to their prior contracts (both federal and private sector unions). Finally, vaccine card fraud, already an issue, will undoubtedly kick into high gear.

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Tipping Point NM Episode 333: Balloon Fiesta, ABQ Public Financing Debacle, and Flood of Revenues to NM,

Paul’s trip to Florida for the State Policy Network Conference. He reports from the free state.

Will TV man and former US Senate candidate run for Gov.? There have been rumblings that he will. 

More on the flood of revenue to the State including early childhood fund.

Despite all the revenue legislators are STILL considering tax hikes.

Deb Haaland has a maskless wedding.  A government watchdog is looking into possible improper gifts.

David Scrase wants more COVID testing of kids. Is this really a good idea?

International Balloon Fiesta to require masks, but not vaccines. With all the pressure put on them by MLG, it seems the Fiesta has chosen the most reasonable path.

Virgin Galactic faces more delays. The Federal Aviation Administration said it was grounding all Virgin Galactic flights until further notice, pending the results of the investigation into the company’s July 11 crewed flight. It was recently uncovered that the spaceplane deviated its trajectory outside of cleared airspace.

Public financing in Albuquerque is a debacle and needs to be abolished.

APS holds off on charter moratorium. Hopefully, the NEW board elected this November will be pro-charter.

Wife of an injured police officer calls out Chief Medina and Mayor Keller. 

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Record revenue? New Mexico legislators STILL want tax hike

New Mexico’s legislators will have record revenues to spend ($8.8 billion) when they convene in Santa Fe in January, but that doesn’t mean that they still won’t raise your taxes. As the Santa Fe New Mexican recently reported, several legislators are planning to file legislation to raise taxes on tobacco products in the upcoming session for the ostensible purpose of improving health. There are numerous problems with this approach:

  1. Cigarette smoking and vaping are simply NOT the same thing from a health perspective. According to Public Health England, vaping is 95% less harmful than smoking. Why treat them the same way policy-wise?
  2. New Mexico is already a hub of tobacco smuggling (a problem that would only grow if taxes are raised). According to data from the Mackinac Center 37% of all cigarettes in New Mexico are smuggled, that’s one of the highest rates in the nation.
  3. Interestingly, while the three legislators mentioned in the article (as supporting the tax hike) seem implacably opposed to tobacco use, New Mexico just legalized marijuana and two of the three legislators voted FOR that. Sen. Hickey “took a walk” on the vote on marijuana legalization. Supporting pot legalization while pushing to eliminate tobacco (to promote health) certainly raises some interesting questions.
  4. Finally, tobacco taxes impact the poor the most. They are extremely “regressive” both in their application and the fact that lower income people smoke tobacco at higher rates than do wealthier New Mexicans.

Vaping vs. smoking: Long-term effects, benefits, and risks



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FAA places indefinite pause on Virgin Galactic flights….deep safety issues outlined

Recently the Federal Aviation Administration said it was grounding all Virgin Galactic flights until further notice, pending the results of the investigation into the company’s July 11 crewed flight. It was recently uncovered that the spaceplane deviated its trajectory outside of cleared airspace.

Flying outside of approved airspace is a bad thing, but this New Yorker column really sheds some light on the significance of the problems with the July 11 flight and it isn’t pretty (especially within the context of Virgin Galactic’s overall track record). Here is one quote from the report:

The rocket motor on Virgin Galactic’s ship is programmed to burn for a minute. On July 11th, it had a few more seconds to go when a red light also appeared on the console: an entry glide-cone warning. This was a big deal…C. J. Sturckow, a former marine and nasa astronaut, said that a yellow light should “scare the shit out of you,” because “when it turns red it’s gonna be too late”; Masucci was less concerned about the yellow light but said, “Red should scare the crap out of you.”

Furthermore, “An F.A.A. spokesperson confirmed that Virgin Galactic ‘deviated from its Air Traffic Control clearance’ and that an ‘investigation is ongoing.’ A Virgin Galactic spokesperson acknowledged that the company did not initially notify the F.A.A. and that the craft flew outside its designated airspace for a minute and forty-one seconds—flights generally last about fifteen minutes—but said that the company was working with the F.A.A. to update procedures for alerting the agency.”

The last pronouncement by Virgin Galactic was that they targeted “late summer” 2022 for their first paid tourist launch. Who knows how long the FAA’s “ongoing investigation” will delay things?


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Tipping Point New Mexico episode 332: Proposed New Mexico United Stadium – Michael Farren of Mercatus Center

On this week’s interview Paul talks to Michael Farren, he is a Research Fellow with the free-market Mercatus Center a think tank based in the Washington, DC area. Michael and Paul discuss the proposed New Mexico United Stadium and what makes this particular deal especially egregious even among stadium deals.

Here is an article Michael wrote about a similar soccer stadium deal in Iowa that is referenced in the conversation.

Farren has done a great deal of research on public financing of stadiums and broader issues of “corporate welfare.” Michael has recommended an “interstate compact” model for reducing such subsidies.

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