Does New Mexico’s history doom it to poverty?

The Journal’s Winthrop Quigley had an interesting column over the weekend in which he detailed how New Mexico’s history of colonization and violence make it “anti-business.” While we’ve had our disagreements with Quigley, he hits on a number of truths in his article. Nonetheless, I want to weigh in with my own thoughts here:

1) It is interesting to me that Quigley almost constantly uses “right to work” to as an entree to discussing what he believes doesn’t work in terms of economic reforms. He’d never launch into a fatalistic discussion of New Mexico’s long and challenging history by denigrating the potential of early childhood programs or Medicaid expansion. He also fails to address more than a dozen other reforms that the Republican-controlled House has passed in recent years only to be killed without so much as a vote in the Senate. He just dismisses “right to work” as “not a solution” and moves on.

2) Quigley notes the lack of trust for outsiders in New Mexico. Interestingly, free market capitalism, despite its “dog-eat-dog” reputation, requires a great deal of trust. That trust usually results in benefits for all parties involved in a free exchange, but trust is nonetheless required. Trust is indeed lacking in New Mexico due in part to its history of colonialism and political corruption.

3) Cultures change. A recent report noted that New Mexico’s corruption has been enabled by the federal government. The loss of federal spending and now, significant oil and gas revenues, mean that change is imperative. The old ways never worked particularly well. Now, they are being exposed as a total failure. It is time for New Mexicans to embrace free markets and build the trust necessary to create a robust private sector.

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4 Replies to “Does New Mexico’s history doom it to poverty?”

  1. I was amused by Quigley’s framing of right-to-work as a “magic bullet” (like the Rail Runner, Spaceport or Early Childhood Education) rather than as one component of a comprehensive reform package.

    At the risk of sounding like a carpetbagger, Quigley’s column suggests something I have suspected: that our state’s colonial isolation has resulted in a population that is not inclined toward self-government. So in addition to creating a climate for economic growth, we need to attract new residents to upgrade the electorate.

    1. Agreed James. The left wants to portray our efforts to enact RTW as if that is the sum total of our economic plans. I think the second thought about self-government has some merit. Interestingly, the military and the Labs have done a great deal to attract these sorts of people to our state in the past, but that has not been enough to transform our political climate.

  2. Preposterous reasoning by Quigley. Arizona had a history of “colonization” almost identical to ours until 1912 and is now one of the most prosperous states in the country.

    Poverty is more often than not associated with a lack of education. I think the stats are that a college grad earns on average $55,000 per year, a high school grad about $30,000 and a high school drop out about $20,000 for full time employment. We have an extraordinarily high number of adults in NM with low education levels. We have the second lowest 4 year high school graduation rate in the country (68%) and an astonishing 46% of NM adults are functionally illiterate according to the NM Coalition for literacy.

  3. New Mexico’s corruption in large measure has been directed by the federal government. It is a plantation, much of its population lost in a ghetto of language and social isolation.

    I was raised in terrible circumstances also, but as a sixth grader I was reading at 12th-grade level, and learned a good bit of Spanish before graduating high school. Continuing as a first-generation college student
    (after 350 years of family living on this continent) yes, I speak, read and write Spanish, also. I even learned the Pledge of Allegiance and Lord’s Prayer in Spanish at 14 (’cause I figured it was a cool thing to do).
    I may have chosen years ago to live within this plantation, but I am a part-owner, with a voice. Elected and appointed “officials” are, all of them, contract employees. Period.

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