New Mexico-style slurs: “Out of state, for-profit”

It says a lot about the mentality of many New Mexicans that the easiest way to slur your opponent is to call them an “out of state, for-profit.” This slur was on full display on the editorial page of today’s Albuquerque Journal which included columns by Sen. Tim Keller and Democratic Party Chairman Sam Bregman.

To be sure, I have a great deal of respect for Sen. Keller and RGF has not taken a position on the Gov.’s teacher evaluation program, but in making the case against this program Keller uses the “slur” “for-profit companies” three times and “out-of-state” twice to make his case. Bregman, on the other hand, discusses the recently-defeated abortion measure that appeared on ballots in Albuquerque and states that “outside groups came in and tried to take over our city.” Setting aside the fact that outside organizations played an overwhelming role in defeating the abortion measure, what is so bad about people from outside New Mexico? And, what is wrong with making a profit?

New Mexico is an isolated state and culturally rather different from any other state in the nation. It is also poor and has low educational attainment levels (even relative to the United States as a whole which performs poorly on international tests) One would think that out political leaders would be eagerly looking for new and proven ideas from elsewhere that might improve our state while preserving its unique cultural attributes.

Interestingly enough, for these “out of state bashers,” Keller left New Mexico to pursue his higher education at Notre Dame and Harvard. Bregman, on the other hand, comes to us from Washington, DC, by way of New York City. Apparently, he is suspect as well because of his “outsider” status. Full-disclosure, despite family ties to New Mexico, I grew up in Ohio and was educated there and in the DC area, but I don’t constantly harp on where people or ideas are from, just whether they are good or bad.

Of course, the term “for-profit” is much more obvious and much more troubling. Keller mentions this one twice in attempting to denigrate the Gov.’s teacher evaluation regime, but it has also been used as a slur against school choice.

Teachers are “for-profit” or they wouldn’t accept salaries, Bregman is “for-profit” or he wouldn’t have sold the Thunderbirds basketball team and allowed them to move out of town. Economically-speaking, profits are the best known means of allocating resources in a free market economy. Undue suspicion of profits either illustrates an ignorance of basic economics or are simply pandering to those who are economically-ignorant. With these attitudes so prevalent among our leaders, it is no surprise that New Mexico faces the economic and educational challenges it does.