New Mexicans need attitude adjustment on freedom

As the 2014 Legislature gets under way tomorrow amidst an ongoing flurry of bad economic news (check out this Washington Post blog for even more depressing details), it is easy to wonder why our state constantly finds itself at the bottom of most good lists and at the top of most bad ones. I have blamed the Legislature and their failure to adopt needed policy reforms, but it is the voters of this state who elect and re-elect these people, so at some level they must represent us, right?

Take a look at some recent actions (outside of the legislative process) taken by everyday New Mexicans that hinder the ability of businesses and individuals to interact on a voluntary basis.

Railroad town battles train crude cars: Lamy tries to stop oil transport plan in its track: Lamy, (I’ve been there) a town that really barely qualifies as a town, doesn’t want crude oil transfers made there. No word on whether the protesters all walked to the meeting to oppose plans that might possibly bring some economic development to the area.

Winery plans stall as permit denied: Think “dirty” oil is the only thing New Mexicans get up in arms about? Not so fast. Recently, the Bernalillo County Planning Commission denied a special use permit to have public art and music events at the winery. Heaven forbid someone use their own property for an activity they might enjoy that could put a few people to work.

Horse slaughter: Congress recently helped kill this one by abusing its power (not appropriating money for horse slaughter). Of course, private entities would do a better job of inspecting meats, but I digress. Anyway, Congress only helped New Mexico Attorney General Gary King who was doing everything in his power to stop this business from ever opening.

Mora County bans oil and gas drilling (need we say more): Interestingly, they have been sued on this.

In Albuquerque, Wal Mart’s efforts to open a store at Coors and Montano were denied. An unemployed relative of mine could be working at this store right now if it had been approved, but I’m sure glad that the empty lot is still in place.

My point in recounting these stories is to show that if New Mexico is ever going to get out of 50th place, changing who represents us in various elected bodies won’t do much by itself. We need a broad, philosophical change in our relative attitudes towards dependency on government, work, poverty, and one’s freedom to operate a business without NIMBY voices dominating the discussion.