“[T]o compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors, is sinful and tyrannical.”
– Thomas Jefferson, Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom
Kim Sorvig, “a research associate professor” at UNM’s School of Architecture and Planning, doesn’t like the oil-and-gas industry. Over the weekend, he penned a trite harangue in the Santa Fe New Mexican. All the bases were covered — Scott Pruitt, the Koch brothers, “record” profits for ExxonMobil, etc. (Blown opportunity: No mention of the Rio Grande Foundation!)
Sorvig’s screed was a response to a piece by Jim Constantopoulos, professor of geology and director of the Miles Mineral Museum at ENMU, who recently defended the “the intangible drilling deduction and the special percentage depletion allowance.”
The taxation of hydrocarbons is a complex issue, and generally speaking, no industry should enjoy special perks and privileges. But Constantopoulos’s piece stood out for its rare perspective. When New Mexico’s state, as well as local, government workers weigh in on economics, energy, the environment, and healthcare, the message is ludicrously one-sided.
Economists are the worst offenders. UNM’s Lee Reynis predicted that New Mexico would be “a net winner” from Medicaid expansion. NMSU’s Jim Peach believes there is “very little evidence that lowering tax rates promotes economic growth.” His colleague Christopher Erickson denies that a right-to-work law provides states an economic-development advantage.
Then there’s Lauren Reichelt. On Friday, the director of the Rio Arriba County Department of Health and Human Services and coordinator of the Rio Arriba Community Health Council wrote that “Republican donors have targeted health care,” in a brutal manifestation of “vulture capitalism, where one company swallows another, liquidating workforce and assets to pay top management and a few shareholders big bonuses.” Tax reform isn’t an attempt to boost the nation’s economy by adopting a simpler, flatter code, but a greedy grab by “the ultra-wealthy,” part of “a scheme by a few unscrupulous billionaires to liquidate America’s health care system in order to pay themselves a one-time windfall, consequences be damned.”
In 2013, Reichelt, a former official with the Democrat Party of Rio Arriba County, attended the “NetRoots Nation” conference — her fourth publicly paid trip to the event in four years. Reichelt’s twitter page is worth a look.
The issue here isn’t censorship. It’s the abuse of taxpayer resources. It’s long past time for New Mexico’s legislators to examine the subsidization of political and ideological communications by government-payroll employees. And the media have a responsibility here, too. If editors, producers, and reporters can’t find any “public servants” to provide balance to their colleagues’ groupthink … well, that’s a story worth telling.