Who Needs a Treasurer Anyway?

As the Albuquerque Journal reported on Wednesday, New Mexico Treasurer James Lewis travels as a part of his job — a lot. The Journal followed up with an editorial questioning who is paying for Lewis’s flights around the globe and to what extent those who pay for Lewis’s flights might be doing so to curry favor with the man that — as The Journal points out, “is the elected official in charge of billions of dollars in New Mexico’s investment portfolio.”
While it is hard not to read about Lewis’s inflated airfare costs — $3,600 first class to Atlanta, business to Brazil — and $2,200 in hotel charges, my question is why the State of New Mexico should be investing billions of dollars. I know it is in the Constitution, but wouldn’t the permanent fund money be better off in the hands of New Mexicans’ instead of politicians? Isn’t it the very definition of socialism to have governments to own and control businesses?
It may be impossible to abolish the office as a whole, but shouldn’t we as individual New Mexicans control whatever revenue is generated by taxes on extractive industries? Aside from that, government really shouldn’t be in the business of investing. Instead, New Mexico should adopt the Alaska model and return oil and gas money to taxpayers. This would serve another positive function by creating a constituency for ongoing mining/drilling.

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