Michigan v. New Mexico

Recently, Mike and Genie Ryan penned a column for the West Side Rio edition of the Albuquerque Journal. They made several comparisons between Michigan and New Mexico in terms of weather and several economic points. While I am happy to be a New Mexican, the comparison between poverty and economic issues faced by the two states is more nuanced than laid out in the original article. My letter to that effect ran in today’s edition of the paper:

I’m glad that Mike and Genie Ryan are happy to live in New Mexico. I am too and as a Midwesterner by birth I absolutely love the Land of Enchantment.

That said, I feel compelled to help set the columnists straight on some of the economic issues discussed in their article and how New Mexico and Michigan compare. Economically-speaking, despite the Ryan’s assurances that our state “has escaped such despair” as those experienced by Michigan, it must be pointed out that average personal incomes in Michigan actually exceed those in New Mexico according to UNM’s Bureau of Economic Research.

True, Michigan has been in a long-term economic slide and that differences between the two states were far greater 20 or more years ago. It may be that our poverty is more rural while Michigan’s is focused in the Detroit area or it may be that those abandoned factories in Michigan look impressive or depressing, but New Mexico is really poor and is kept afloat by a massive infusion of federal dollars and the oil and gas industries.

Today, Michigan is taking serious action to free its economy and diversify beyond the automobile industry. It has adopted a Right to Work law and been eliminating wasteful and unnecessary regulations (already having reducing the number of administrative rules in the state by 1,000.

Loving a person or place doesn’t mean not being honest about flaws. New Mexico is a great place to live, but it has been held back by a lack of economic freedom for decades.

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2 Replies to “Michigan v. New Mexico”

  1. Comparing Michigan and New Mexico is crazy. In a sense it is amazing that the authors say we are competitive. The transportation factor is a major difference. Distances between commerce areas is much smaller in Michigan. There are canals that link to the Great Lakes and railroad tracks everywhere. The abundance of rivers makes water power cheap while PNM has one of the highest energy costs in the U.S. Water is overly abundant for cooling off manufacturing where as here Intel’s use of water in a desert is a life or death issue. Highways are in great condition and a number of factors are subsidized by state and local government. Blueberrys can be grown there where they cannot be grown in NM. In fact just throwing seeds on the ground is enough to establish a crop of anything. Rainfall will take care of it all. Rust is the biggest concern of a resident.

    1. I agree with many of these statements, but I would note that electricity prices are actually cheaper here in New Mexico than they are in Michigan. Such prices are more a product of public policy than anything else.

      Also, while you are correct in the centrality of Michigan and its ease in terms of shipping and rainfall, this is not an excuse for New Mexico to remain impoverished.

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