Errors of Enchantment

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Episode 560: Thanksgiving Card from MLG, Rail Runner’s wrong schedule, “green” jobs, and more


Paul was shocked over the Holiday to receive a Thanksgiving card (taxpayer funded of course) from the Gov.

Over the Thanksgiving weekend I discovered (the hard way) the Rail Runner app has incorrect information on it.

VP Kamala Harris uses a gas stove posing with her husband on social media.

Job growth in the energy sector is NOT a win for the economy.

In the wake of the EIB’s decision I wrote a piece outlining why their plan simply cannot work.

Conservative ABQ City councilor Dan Lewis and a majority of the Council recently voted to reform the City’s unelected air board, sadly Mayor Keller vetoed their legislation.

New Mexico Supreme Court won’t hear GOP appeal on district map.

Due a technical glitch this show is posted in two parts:


New Mexico stands at 41st in overall economic freedom according to Cato Institute’s latest report


According to the Freedom in the 50 States report recently released by the Cato Institute New Mexico again registers as one of the least economically-free states in the nation. As seen in the map below New Mexico trails each of its neighbors badly while falling more in line with MLG’s “dream” state of California and other slow-growth, “deep blue” states.

New Mexico DOES perform fairly well in the area of “personal freedom” ranking 5th overall, but combined with its economic freedom score, that nets New Mexico a still mediocre 35th overall ranking. 

Proximate ABQ Journal stories highlight trades vs. academia


This newspaper is from a few weeks ago, but has an extremely interesting juxtaposition right on its front page. One story highlighted the demand for workers in the trades while the other features a unionized employee of UNM who works for $1,565 on a 9 month contract at UNM. Over the span of a full year the second-year English doctoral student is making just $14,085 annually.

On the other hand, the hourly pay for a skilled tradesperson in New Mexico is $21.81 an hour. Assuming a full year of work that’s more than triple what the UNM doctoral student is making without a college degree.

We’re not arguing on behalf of the unionized UNM graduate assistants. We’re not even saying that you shouldn’t attend college. Simply put, subsidized or “free” college as Gov. Lujan Grisham has embraced here in New Mexico is wasteful and is largely a waste of money.

RGF op-ed: Education reform can boost workforce, economy


The following article appeared in the Santa Fe New Mexican on November 19, 2023.

The Legislative Finance Committee has produced a new report looking at the issue of New Mexico’s low workforce participation rate. Here is one of many choice quotes analyzing the problem: “While unemployment rates have recovered to pre-pandemic levels, the share of the state’s working age population participating in the labor force is persistently low. Social services, economic development, tax rates, pension systems, the service industry and virtually every other area of the economy is impacted when there are fewer people working to support those who do not work.”

The report further notes “misalignment between the state’s workforce skills and industry is a challenge for New Mexico’s economic future,” the report focuses most of its attention on job training programs and other economic development incentives, but I believe this is a mistake. What the LFC gently calls “misalignment” really means “ill-prepared.”

Sadly, no matter how much New Mexico seems to spend on education, our results remain mired in the very bottom among U.S. states. We all know the numbers. New Mexico is last on the Nation’s Report Card, last on Kids Count and last in nearly any ranking of public education systems or outcomes. New Mexico is still working to comply with the Yazzie v. Martinez ruling, which deemed our education system “inadequate.”

Solving our state’s educational issues is fundamental to the future of New Mexico. People have moved their families out-of-state during the governor’s coronavirus pandemic lockdowns or have found other educational options. Sadly, tens of thousands of New Mexico children continue to suffer in a failing system.

The key is to reform the system, not pour more money into a system that is so clearly broken. Recently, through the education reform project called Opportunity for All Kids New Mexico, my foundation held a daylong conference in which numerous reform ideas were discussed.

High-level reformers from across the nation and state discussed private school choice options that have been implemented, how New Mexico can learn lessons from other states and maximize its charter school laws and what we can learn from Mississippi in reforming our existing education system. Advocates for charter schools were also able to tout ways in which New Mexico’s current form of school choice is working to improve education and outline how it could be harnessed to do even more.

After all, when your education system is so troubled, you need to consider all the options. Sadly, advocates of the status quo failed system, many of whom are supported financially and elected thanks to support from the unions, continue to stand in the way of necessary reforms.

What is holding New Mexico’s economy back? Many policies are responsible. Rio Grande Foundation continues to advocate for needed tax reform (to name just one needed reform). That said, no area of public policy in New Mexico could have a more profound impact on both our children and our long-term economic success simultaneously than would making needed changes to our education system.

In next year’s 30-day legislative session and beyond, New Mexicans and their elected officials must embrace a combination of accountability and reform that could (at last) begin to move New Mexico out of last place, improve the lives of our children and give us a better workforce.

Paul Gessing is president of New Mexico’s Rio Grande Foundation, a nonpartisan research and educational organization.

RGF president discovers incorrect RailRunner schedule


There are numerous problems with “mass” transit. One of the most frustrating things is when you miss the train or whatever you are trying to ride.

RGF’s president had plans to take his kids on the train over the Thanksgiving Holiday (Saturday) to visit the model train museum in Belen and visit friends. The first screenshot below is the train we’d planned to take (from the RailRunner app for Iphone).  Below that is a shot of the schedule posted at the station (notice the #705 column) and the departure at 10am vs. 10:20am on the app.

Imagine our surprise when no train came because it had already left 20 minutes earlier (at 11:21am from the Montano station instead of 11:41am as reflected on the app)! It appears that several other changes have been made to the Saturday afternoon schedule that differ from what is on the app.  Does no one else use the RailRunner app on the Iphone?

We wound up driving down to Belen and had a great time at the museum and were able to do a number of things we couldn’t have done without a vehicle, but this is a shocking oversight for the RailRunner folks.

Tipping Point NM Episode 559: What are “Regulatory Sandboxes” and Will New Mexico Pass Legislation to Allow Them?


On this week’s episode Paul discusses an innovative approach to regulation that comes to us from Utah that has been embraced by red and blue states alike. The idea is the creation of “regulatory sandboxes” which  allows live, time-bound testing of innovations under a regulator’s oversight. Paul discusses the issue with Rees Empey, Director of State Govt. Affairs at the Utah-based Libertas Institute and Brian Knight is the Director of the Program on Financial Regulation at the Mercatus Center based in the DC area.

The “Sandbox” issue has bipartisan support in the New Mexico Legislature having been introduced by Democrats in the 2023 session.

Energy sector job growth is NOT a win


What if you had a power source that was free and plentiful?  That would be a good thing and it would allow for great expansions in prosperity. Fossil fuels have, for decades, provided affordable and plentiful energy, but so-called “environmentalists” and politicians like Sen. Heinrich aren’t really interested in cheap and plentiful energy.

Instead, they tout the number of jobs created in the subsidized wind and solar industries. See chart below. These aren’t necessary “clean” as the chart claims, but they DO require massive infusions of tax dollars and costly new investments in high tension wires like Heinrich’s beloved SunZia project in order to get wind and solar produced in New Mexico all the way to California.

The total price tag of SunZia is $8 billion which certainly means some jobs, but more importantly it requires massive subsidies and will ultimately result in more expensive (and less reliable) electricity.


RGF presents to Environmental Improvement Board


While the Board ultimately voted on a 3-2 basis to adopt Gov. Lujan Grisham’s electric vehicle mandates, RGF truly put on a full court press to stop them. Below is Paul Gessing’s 3 minute presentation to the Board:

Here is Marina Herrera’s testimony and presentation of the boxes of thousands of signatures.

A few photos of our team delivering boxes containing thousands of hard copies of signatures to the Board.

RGF opinion piece: Electric vehicle rule is unsustainable and will kill jobs


The following appeared in the Albuquerque Journal on Tuesday, November 21st, 2023.

After four long days of testimony and public comment the Environmental Improvement Board decided recently to move forward with Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s plan to follow California’s “clean vehicle” standard. In practice that means New Mexico’s car dealers will have to increase sales of EVs in New Mexico from the current 3% of all new vehicles to 43% by summer of 2026 and 82% by summer of 2031.

That may seem like a long time away, but the summer of 2026 is less than three years from now. New Mexico’s car dealers are the ones with the most to lose under this policy, but the new rules will negatively impact all New Mexicans. Car dealers rightly fear that New Mexicans will travel to neighboring states to purchase their cars. There is nothing to stop them. In fact, online super-seller Amazon just announced that it would begin selling vehicles online.

Amazon’s presence in the auto market alone is a problem for car dealers but if Amazon — and out-of-state dealers — can sell whatever consumers want and New Mexico dealers can’t, that is a big problem. Many car dealers are small businesses. New car dealers average 56 employees per dealership and employ a total of 6,314 New Mexicans statewide. Car dealers also pay numerous taxes — like property, payroll, and income — that Amazon and Texas dealers won’t pay when they sell cars to New Mexicans.

The EIB’s process is hugely problematic. New Mexico’s Democrats talk endlessly about defending “democracy” but when push comes to shove, elected bodies like the Legislature refuse to guard their own power. Every Democrat in the Legislature needs to go on the record in support or opposition to the governor’s mandate when seeking reelection in 2024. Notably, every single Republican in the Legislature signed letters in opposition to the proposal.

Sadly, despite overwhelming numbers of New Mexicans expressing their opposition, including 3,517 individual opponents through our website, the seven-member board voted on a mere 3-2 basis to adopt the mandate. The governor couldn’t even get an outright majority of her own appointed board to support her policies.

So, who supported it? Major environmental groups led the charge, of course. But, in attending the hearings a common refrain from supporters — many of them wealthy, Anglo, EV owners from Albuquerque and Santa Fe — were that “EV’s work great for them.”

That attitude ignores the dire lack of charging infrastructure throughout rural New Mexico, an issue that is even more acute in Navajo Country. Apartment dwellers and those who do not own single-family homes, while often living a “green” lifestyle, will inevitably struggle to charge their mandated vehicles.

Factually speaking, this mandate cannot and will not work. New Mexicans will simply not have enough EVs available to comply with this mandate with vastly more populous California having already embraced similar rules. Car dealers will go out of business and either Lujan Grisham or some future governor will either delay or modify this unworkable mandate.

The question is how many jobs will be killed in New Mexico? How many people and businesses will leave our state or choose not to come here due to the adoption of another ill-conceived public policy? We don’t know, but what we do know is that despite having the benefit of a large federal infrastructure, and the jobs and tax dollars it brings, and being the second-leading oil producing state in the entire country, New Mexico remains poor and is losing its young people.

In the name of environmental “sustainability” our governor has made New Mexico’s future less sustainable.

Paul Gessing is president of New Mexico’s Rio Grande Foundation, an independent, nonpartisan, tax-exempt research and educational organization dedicated to promoting prosperity for New Mexico based on principles of limited government, economic freedom and individual responsibility.

Another blue state unleashes electric vehicle mandate: 'Walking the walk'

Tipping Point NM episode 558: EIB Decision on Electric Vehicles, Education Not Improving, Soccer Stadium and more


Gov. Lujan Grisham’s Environmental Improvement Board adopted her EV mandate. Find out more here and how RGF attempted to stop this debacle. 

According to a new LFC report New Mexico student results are not improving despite more money being pumped into education. The NY Times admits terrible learning loss due to COVID lockdowns like those of MLG. Unfortunately the Texas Legislature has again killed school choice.

NM United get their stadium 7-2 vote.

A self-described “libertarian” just won Argentina’s election. Paul lived for a time in Argentina and has studied the place. Here’s his take. 

Can Javier Milei save Argentina?


This may seem like a random post on a site dealing almost exclusively with New Mexico politics and policy, but with the election of the free market-oriented Javier Milei as Argentina’s next president, we will see if a formerly great South American nation that sadly pursued socialist policies for decades, can pull out of its tail spin.

It is a nation that RGF president Paul Gessing spent four months from March to June of 2001 living in and working as a fellow with a libertarian/free market think tank.

Argentina was one of the 10 wealthiest nations on earth in 1900, but quasi-socialistic/fascistic Peronist policies embraced in the post-war years led the nation to poverty. In fact, after my departure from Argentina in 2001, the nation suffered a default in which it devalued its currency.

Is Milei a mere “blip” on the radar or will he be able to help his nation pull out of its death spiral? No one knows. But there ARE lessons for even a state like New Mexico which has been poorly governed for much of the past century.

canada goose historia argentina, Off 60%,

LFC report: More education spending is not leading to significant boost for students


With a great deal of attention focused on MLG’s plan to foist unwanted electric vehicles on New Mexicans one could be forgiven for almost missing this story from KRQE Channel 13. The story addresses a new report from the Legislature’s own internal think tank, the Legislative Finance Committee.

According to KRQE (quoting) LFC analysts, while money going into education has increased, student enrollment has decreased about 1% each year for the last few years. “Given the demographics and projections that we’re hearing, we don’t see that recovering in the near future either.”

Said Sen. George Muñoz (D-Gallup), “Roughly $6 billion we’re pumping into our public education system better, and we’ve got zero to show for it.” You can read the LFC report here. 

Among the numerous problems cited is “chronic absenteeism.” Sadly, New Mexico is pouring more and more money into a system that is serving fewer students. Even a “free” system can’t get students to attend.

It’s long past time for needed reforms to allow school choice (like Arizona) AND enact Mississippi-style reforms.

MLG’s 7 member Environmental Improvement Board votes to limit gas cars in mere 3-2 vote


At the Rio Grande Foundation we have written extensively about Gov. Lujan Grisham’s disdain for “democracy,” let alone a representative republic, but last night’s (Thursday, November 16) vote by her un-elected EIB takes the cake.

Unsurprisingly, despite overwhelming numbers of New Mexicans in opposition, the SEVEN member Board voted on a mere 3-2 basis (in support) to mandate a drastic increase in the number of EV’s sold in New Mexico.  You can find the list of all 7 members here while the vote was as follows: Bitzer and Trujillo voted NO and Ely, Garcia, and Suina all voted YES. Two of the Board’s seven members DID NOT VOTE: Honker and Cates.

In other words, MLG couldn’t even get an outright majority of her un-elected board to support her policy to force cars that New Mexicans don’t want on them. That sets aside inherent biases and conflicts of the members like Sandra Ely being a paid employee of the Environment Department AND being married to prominent, recently retired environmental attorney Steven Michael.

There are numerous reasons to litigate and we’re confident that lawsuits will arise from this “kangaroo court” in which massive policy changes are being initiated by a board acting without so much as a majority of its own membership.

Israel's crisis shows the conflict between democracy and rule of law – GIS  Reports

RGF takes on the EIB: a recap and next steps


When we found out last July that Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham planned to follow California’s lead by strictly limiting New Mexicans’ choice in vehicles, we knew that pushing back against this regulation is what RGF was made for.

We are NOT an industry group. We made our decision to act because the ability to purchase the vehicle of your choice is fundamental to both personal and economic freedom. We aren’t “in the pocket” of car companies or car dealers.

So, we launched, which enabled individuals to send their detailed comments to the EIB in opposition to the Gov.’s proposed regs.

Both RGF’s Paul Gessing and Marina Herrera gave testimony on two separate occasions in person to the EIB.

Last night during public comment, the Rio Grande Foundation hand-delivered 7 boxes of 2,505 letters of opposition to the Gas Car Ban (one box for each member of the EIB). And that was just the number of letters we had two days before the public hearing to make sure we could get everything printed in time!

That’s right, we delivered 17,535 sheets of paper to the EIB at their Wednesday, November 15 meeting.

Since then, over 1,000 additional individuals have told the EIB to say “NO” to the Gas Car Ban. Yes, 3,517 individuals sent in their opposition via

Unlike emails sent in to the EIB from numerous environmental groups, we gathered signatures from individuals in nearly every demographic and community in New Mexico. This includes:

  • The Pueblos
  • The Navajo Nation
  • Nuevomexicanos, Hispanos, and Chicanos
  • Individuals from every single House District in the state.

In addition, RGF published an opinion editorial in the Albuquerque Journal and numerous other newspapers statewide, our messaging in opposition to mandates (not EV’s themselves) was picked up in numerous radio and TV stories, and we generally carried out a campaign unlike anything seen before in New Mexico.

While the EIB is still deliberating on whether or not they’re going to strip you of your freedom to choose a vehicle, the Rio Grande Foundation stands at the ready to challenge these absurdly bad policies.



Tipping Point NM Episode 556 EV Mandate at EIB, Free Buses, Virgin Galactic Pulls out of New Mexico and more


Paul attended and spoke at the EIB meeting. I can also relay info about the number of people who used our website.

All members of GOP Legislature oppose MLG’s EV mandate.

RGF pours cold water on “free buses,” but a 6-3 majority on Council supports them anyway.

We briefly recap what was decided in the election last week.

Virgin Galactic largely pulls out of New Mexico and other big news about the company.

Paul talked to Channel 7 about Keller’s taxpayer-financed book.

ABQ spent $80,231.98 on Biden’s trip back in August. 

KRQE covers EIB hearings and quotes RGF


KRQE Channel 13 did a very good story on the meetings currently being held at the Environmental Improvement Board that could dramatically curtail your ability to buy a gas powered vehicle in New Mexico.

Aside from RGF’s brief comment at the end there are some well-done comments throughout including from Sen. George Muñoz, a leading Democrat in the Legislature who opposes fellow Democrat Lujan Grisham’s overreach on this issue. Kudos to Sen. Muñoz.

Even if you take everything the climate alarmist lobby has to say about CO2 emissions and climate change at face value, the problem is NOT here in the United States, it is coming from China and to an extent India and nothing we can do here in the US (let alone New Mexico) will mitigate against that. See story below and map/chart below that.

As the EIB meets to impose EV’s on New Mexicans new report finds EV costs at least $53,000 more over 10 years than conventional vehicles


The Environmental Improvement Board is still taking public comment on the Gov.’s plan to force you to buy an electric vehicle. You can send them a note pushing back against their mandate here, but time is short. 

According to a new study reported on in the New York Post, government subsidies have made EV’s look affordable even when they aren’t.

The stark reality is the average EV costs at least $53,000 more over 10 years than conventional vehicles, effectively doubling the price of the average new car.

But $22 billion in government handouts to EV owners and manufacturers absorb the extra expense at every stage of the vehicle’s life, from raw-material sourcing to battery charging.

Gov. Lujan Grisham is planning a big ramp-up in EV subsidies to complement her planned mandates. Ironically, the budget to fund those subsidies is largely derived from the oil and gas industry. Furthermore:

While EV advocates claim charging costs are equivalent to $1.21-per-gallon gasoline, the real amount is an order of magnitude more.

Including the charging equipment, subsidies from governments and utilities and other frequently excluded expenses, the true cost of charging an EV is equivalent to $17.33-per-gallon gasoline — but the EV owner pays less than 7% of that.

Your assistance needed: APS superintendent search


The APS Board of Education is in the process of gathering community feedback in support of their superintendent search.  They are having serious and thorough discussions with the community on what competencies, capabilities and attributes they do and do not want in the next APS superintendent in order to align the search and hiring process with this community feedback.

This is a critical moment for our Albuquerque community so please take a couple minutes to complete this survey and then share the survey with five (5) friends.  Thank you! Deadline to take the survey is November 22nd, 2023.

APS Superintendent Survey –

More information on the Emerging Stronger Strategic Plan –
More information on the Superintendent Search –

Tipping Point NM Episode 555: Index of State Education Freedom with Andrew Handel


On this week’s interview Paul interviews Andrew Handel, Director, Education and Workforce Development Task Force of the American Legislative Exchange Council about the new report of which he is lead author, “Index of State Education Freedom: A 50-State Guide to Parental Empowerment.”

Paul and Andrew discuss various aspects of educational freedom and its components. New Mexico is not 50th or even 51st in this index of educational freedom, but how does it perform and what metrics does it do well on and which of them need work especially given the State’s poor education outcomes.

RGF comments in KOAT Channel 7 story about Mayor Keller’s city-financed book


In the wake of the COVID 19 pandemic the Keller Administration spent $97,000 of taxpayer dollars to publish book; sold fewer than 100 copies. The City’s inspector general trashed the project as a “waste of taxpayer money.”

We concur and shared as much with KOAT TV Channel 7. You can see the report here.

Not only was Mayor Keller’s performance as Mayor during COVID 19 poor (largely following the Gov.’s lockdown approach), but this book was clearly written as a campaign piece in support of the Mayor, not as a “after action report” to facilitate understanding of the policies that worked and didn’t work both with Pandemic, but also the George Floyd riots in the summer of 2020.


All GOP Legislators Publicly Oppose MLG’s EV Mandate


In advance of the meeting next week of Gov. Lujan Grisham’s unelected Environmental Improvement Board during which they will decide whether or not to strictly limit the availability of gas powered vehicles, Republicans in BOTH houses of New Mexico’s Legislature have registered their opposition to the plan.

Here is the Senate GOP’s letter. 

Here is the House version.

Polls indicate that a majority of Americans don’t want to buy an EV as their next car. Those majorities are even bigger for low income and elderly people which New Mexico has in large numbers. 

Do New Mexico Democrats, especially in the Legislature, support the Gov.’s latest overreach? We’ll be asking them and so should you!

Another false start for Virgin Galactic


Spaceport America’s lead tenant Virgin Galactic had finally begun launching it’s manned space tourism flights this year after the facility had been open for more than a decade. And, while the stock price had been destroyed, it seemed like things were finally moving in the right direction for both the company and the taxpayer-funded facility, right?


According to SpaceNews, The company just announced that (after a series of successful flights in recent months) Virgin Galactic will reduce the frequency of flights of its current suborbital vehicle and stop them entirely by mid-2024 as it concentrates resources on the next generation of vehicles.

Virgin Galactic announced Nov. 7 it would be laying off staff and reducing other expenses to concentrate resources on the Delta class, The company also said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing that it would be cutting 185 jobs, or about 18% of its current workforce.

Not surprisingly, what limited economic benefits New Mexico had been receiving from these launches will soon evaporate as “company staff who work on the vehicles at Spaceport America in New Mexico will go to a new factory near Phoenix the company expects to complete in the second quarter of 2024 to help with the assembly of the first Delta-class vehicles.” In other words, Virgin Galactic workers are moving out of state.

Virgin Galactic reported $1.7 million in revenue in the third quarter from its spaceflight as well as “membership fees” from customers, and projects $3 million in revenue in the fourth quarter. The company had a net loss of $105 million in the third quarter.

SpaceShipTwo on Unity 25 flight

EV article roundup


Biden Got Manufacturers To Build EVs But He Can’t Force You To Buy One

You could lose access to a key feature (AM radio) if you buy an electric car. 

Ex-Ford CEO warns of fierce challenge ahead for electric vehicles

Across almost every segment of the electric-vehicle industry,  demand seems to be slowing.

Hertz is slowing the electrification of its rental fleets, citing poor resale value and higher-than-expected repair costs.

“From where we stood six months ago, it’s going to be a challenging time for everyone involved in the EV market right now.”

State (Colorado) offers residents major incentive to give up their gas cars

Colorado is now offering EV rebates up to $6,000 for new vehicles and up to $4,000 for used ones. These rebates can be combined with the federal tax credit of $7,500 meaning that purchasers of EV’s can receive up to $13,500 courtesy of the taxpayer.

Given the massive $3.5 billion budget surplus (courtesy of oil and gas) we expect MLG to ramp up the subsidies for EV’s since the market (people buying cars) aren’t enthusiastic about them.

If you oppose Gov. Lujan Grisham’s EV mandate and other policies to bribe/force you into an EV, please send them a note here.