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.

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10 Replies to “New Mexicans need attitude adjustment on freedom”

  1. If you spend much time in northern New Mexico, you begin to realize that a very sizable number of people (>50%) depend upon government checks in order to live. Many of these people refer to such checks as their “paychecks”, in a manner similar to the British situation described by Timothy Dalrymple’s book Life at the Bottom. It is sad but true: people will vote for politicians who promise them money, a fact that LBJ knew all too well, as evidenced by his comment at the passing of the bill enacting the War on Poverty (and I quote): “Those niggers will be voting Democratic for the next 200 years”.

  2. I have family that live in Lamy and I’m fully versed in what is currently happening with the oil transfer operation. First off, Pacer Energy Marketing is an Oklahoma-based company, not a New Mexico business. Santa Fe Southern Railway, which owns the land that will be leased by Pacer to transfer oil from truck to train car, is owned by man who lives in Dallas. Texas. Secondly, no residents in Lamy will be benefiting economically from this operation. The problem is this: there is only one road in and out of the town, a two lane county road. Oil tanker trucks will be driving full tanks in day and night. If you’ve actually been to Lamy you know how poorly maintained that road is. This poses a serious threat to the residents if there is incident. The transload operation site is 100ft from the community well which serves all the residents of Lamy and is connected to the same water supply that serves Galesteo and El Dorado. So the danger of a spill contaminating this water supply is of great concern to many people who live in these communities. Pacer has looked at other sites around New Mexico to conduct their business. SFSR has been losing money for years so Karl Zeibarth, owner of SFSR, decided to endanger a small community because he can’t run a profitable business effectively. To answer your subversive remark, yes, we did WALK to the protest. The site is only 50 feet from the house so we weren’t even winded when we got there. Regards.

    1. I have been to Lamy, on the train actually, and I understand the concerns over water. It just seems that precautions could be taken. Also, none of those truck drivers or other operators will be from New Mexico?

    2. This is NIMBYism, the main problem is governments mal treatment of railroads, also there is more to oil than just burning it.

  3. I also live in Lamy and walked to the meeting.
    There is still the issue of one road into/out-of Lamy. Example: if you want to build a house, building code says you must have two forms of egress in case of fire. Most dwellings never experience a fire. IF there ever were a disaster at the rail yard in Lamy, we would have no way out.
    New Mexico is a big state with a small population. I cannot believe that another more appropriate venue cannot be found. I understand that crude oil transloading has to happen somewhere…….but that doesn’t mean it should happen ANYWHERE they want it.

    1. Perhaps Lamy is not the best place to do this. Perhaps the company can improve ingress and egress to make the site better? I do appreciate the reasoned remarks. It just seems that every time a business that is not involved in the film or solar industries attempt to do business in New Mexico, especially near Santa Fe, the NIMBYs come out in full force.

  4. In the future prior to making your remarks about a town and its residents you may want to do a little research before you post. You appear to have as many biases as those you negatively categorize.

    1. I’m not criticizing people from Lamy. It is hard to say where all the people opposed to the project are from. And the issues that may exist with this transshipment operation may or may not be insurmountable. It would seem that a company looking to expand infrastructure in a particular area should pay for that themselves. Rather than knee-jerk opposition, perhaps there is room for compromise and local benefit?

      1. This article from the Santa Fe Reporter tends to reflect the perspective I took in the original article. Again, I’m not saying that there are NO reasons to be concerned or that some improvements might need to be made to the site, but both sides in this discussion need to negotiate and compromise.

        Even if there aren’t any jobs initially, we all benefit from oil and gas and having some economic activity would be a good thing.

  5. Pacer has said they will offer 2 jobs for this operation.
    Did you read The New Mexican today, Sunday- ” Our View” handily dismises the
    NIMBY accusation.

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