Public Workers at top of NM Economic Heap

Great article from today’s Albuquerque Journal which discusses how New Mexico is too reliant on federal government jobs. It is well worth a read.

There are a few points, however, that I think were missed or that need to be corrected in the article.

For starters, while it is definitely the case that New Mexico is uniquely-reliant as a state on Washington (and that needs to change), seven of the wealthiest 10 counties in America are wealthy because of their close proximity to government. Six of the 10 are in the DC suburbs with Los Alamos also found in the top-10. Wealth due to proximity of government is a serious problem in America and an indicator that Washington plays too big a role in our nation’s economy.

While “activists and economists” in the article blame New Mexico’s poor performance on poverty and low education levels, it would seem that the real culprit is our State’s poor economic policies. After all, the residents of all states were poor and ignorant at some point. It is the natural state of man. But those states worked hard, built businesses, grew prosperous, and invested in the future (in part by creating a functioning education system). New Mexicans just did less of those things and I don’t think it’s because we’re naturally less hard-working or less intelligent. It has to do with public policy.

And lastly, in what amounted to almost a “throwaway” line at the end of the article, “having a huge police force” is cited as a reason Los Alamos is a safe place to live. I disagree. Los Alamos is safe because the people living there intuitively respect the rule of law and understand how that respect benefits everyone in a given society. They have a large police force in Los Alamos because they can afford it.

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2 Replies to “Public Workers at top of NM Economic Heap”

  1. I do not understand where the journal is coming from. It almost sounds as if they are telling us the world-class National Science facility in Los Alamos should be moved to another state so that we would be less dependent on Federal dollars.

    The Journal also seems to be saying that the folks who work at the lab are unfairly overpaid in relation to workers in the rest of our state. This in spite of the fact that the highest paid employees are highly educated world-class scientists and engineers doing important work.

    The Journal should be making the point that we need to continue trying to keep the businesses we already have, encourage the creation of new businesses here and continue attracting already-established businesses to move to New Mexico. I’m not aware that our current administration, while claiming to be business friendly, has been very successful in this important work. Perhaps someone could enlighten me as to what our current governor has accomplished in these areas. I’m not saying it hasn’t happened, all I’m asking for is evidence that it has.

    1. I don’t think the Journal is saying anything of the sort when it comes to hoping to shift “businesses” we already have out of the state. In terms of the pay scale of people in the lab, they aren’t operating in anything resembling a competitive free market. Their skills may or may not be valuable in a world where the government is not trying to snap them up.

      Most of us assume that scientists will be in-demand regardless, but it is hard to say.

      I think the Journal is just providing information and illustrating that New Mexico relies heavily on the federal government. It shows that New Mexico needs better economic policies that help improve the economies of all areas of the state, not just those that have federal installations.

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