Why business won’t come to New Mexico: a case study

A lot of economics is based on empirical data. High taxes on productive activity are bad, the rule of law is good. New Mexico usually doesn’t perform well on these measures of “business friendliness,” but I believe that such tools are only useful to an extent. Sometimes, the key to business friendliness is simply having a business-friendly attitude. Unfortunately, measuring this across state lines is next to impossible, but we can get snapshots of the problem.

Take the case of PNM and its effort to close costly and under-utilized pay centers. The situation arose a few months ago when PNM asked the Public Regulation Commission (PRC) for permission to close the center which cost them $500,000 annually. A compromise was reached to allow in-person payments at various Western Union centers. The situation recently made the news once again as hearings have been set before the PRC.

The fact is that myriad ways exist for people to pay their PNM bills. Mail, online, pre-paid, automatically… but that is apparently not enough for some, including PRC member Ben Hall. His statement on the issue was telling in terms of New Mexicans’ negative attitude toward business and encapsulates why businesses tend to steer clear of the “Land of Enchantment.” Said Commissioner Hall of the potential closings, “Those buildings have been around forever — all my life — people are so used to them.”

Well….so what? ATM’s weren’t around 50 years ago. How many companies have come and gone over the last 50 years? Why in the world should PNM have to waste money (ultimately causing the rates they charge customers to go upward) just for the sake of nostalgia? Times change and business needs to be allowed to change. In a free market, there are vastly more winners than losers in this process. It may be a relatively minor issue in the grand scheme of things, but for heaven’s sake, let PNM close these obsolete payment centers!