Saturday, November 10, 2012

New Mexico: Recovery Jump Start or Marshall Plan?

The Election is Over.
MeanMesa is Back.
Let's Get To Work.
This is no time to be "lolly gagging" around.  We have an economy to rebuild. (image source)
Transforming New Mexico Into
 Silicon Valley - Over Night
Don't hold your breath, but hang onto your check book.

There is an absolutely fascinating neo-conservative conversation rolling along in New Mexico.  It seems like any plan which might possibly assist New Mexico's economy must first pass through a "supply side" litmus test before it can continue on to reach the play ground of New Mexico's over-financed "denial Disney Land" -- it doesn't matter, of course, whether the ferris wheel has been installed in the Round House or the Albuquerque Mayor's office.

The ALEC induced "supply side" checks authored in Santa Fe usually have more zeros in the pay slot than their counterparts drifting silently around behind the "famous closed doors" in Albuquerque mayor's office, but their sheer matter of scope fails to make them any more valid -- that is, any more representational -- than the more local grift.

Returning to the neo-con conversation, it may be notable for many things, but it is certainly notable for its longevity and durability.  It seems to remain the theme song even after an perpetually unavoidable, reliably depressing series of failures.  Although the astounding variety of schemes has run the full gamut of ALEC-neo-con "bright shiny objects," there is, in fact, a common thread.

In each case, the basic model seems to be a disturbing repetition of the preceding one with just a tiny bit more lipstick.  The common thread is found in the relentless, overly eager chorale of the ALEC cheerleaders.  They must all imagine that their scam is going to unfold in Alabama or New Jersey instead of New Mexico.

It is extra discouraging to count the number of supporting votes these expensive monstrosities receive from state Democrats.

We're Already Dancing as Fast as We Can

Every one of these dreams really does run along predictable tracks.  In each effort, some fragment of New Mexico's economy suddenly begins to behave just like an economy somewhere else!  A shard of desolate, nearly worthless real estate is suddenly -- almost magically -- transformed into an exact replica of Silicon Valley with thousands of happy, well paid employees, courageous, innovative management and smiling stock holders lounging around a country club pool.

Of course, along the way, the state or the city ponies up enough "starter money" -- usually, but not always, in the form of tax expenditures -- to build a road or cease collecting taxes for a few years -- and then rushes off to an out of state public relations firm to spread the good news.  As for us citizens, we do our part by believing them.

The annual average for "incentive and motivational" money draining from state and city coffers into relief from normal "business expenses" for these "Gosh are we ever lucky to have them" new enterprises is around $1.3 Bn across the state.

We New Mexicans would love to have a look at these "success stories," a glimpse at the figures revealing how many new jobs were drawn into the state or the city, but -- hold your horses.  The Governor and the Round House just finished having a spat about exactly who would be "researching" and "evaluating" that list.

Presumably, the non-ALEC bunch on the Democratic side of the legislature wanted a chance to look over the wreckage to see how well this was working, but in the end, the Governess transferred the examination responsibility to her in-office staff.  If patterns hold from this point forward, her "appraisal" will ultimately be contracted to some firm in Texas or Arizona after she concludes that her New Mexico experts just simply don't have the expertise.

That would be the "expertise" required to arrive at the right "conclusions."

Facing Facts

Stumbling along with the promise of low cost labor, previously "incentivized" corporations such as Intel and HP are now circling aimlessly in the Rio Rancho desert wishing they had never taken the bait.  Yes, New Mexican labor is cheap.  No, New Mexican labor can't actually build computers, design chips or particularly innovate consumer products that will shock China into an economic stand still.

The other suspicious part of these high tech export industries has to do with markets.  MeanMesa has always been ready to "chirp" out the "demand side" of the nation's economic woes, and the same tune fits just as well when we consider New Mexico as an individual State.

The constantly repeated "integrated into the world market" might be relevant to New York or Los Angeles, but when applied to Rio Rancho, not so much.  For a dozen good reasons, New Mexico can't handle the vagaries of those "world markets."  The style and quality of management skills found in the State don't help much, either.

The current market for cheap, unskilled labor in the US is not one driven by scarcity.  When New Mexico offers this up to prospective new businesses as an incentive to come here, the balloon is already half flat before they're off the phone.  Far too often, what is initially touted as cheap, unskilled labor becomes something equivalent to WalMart where cheap labor is further refined into exploited labor, and low wages must be supplemented by state funded social support, effectively converting State tax money into corporate profit for the Walton pockets.

Whatever the fundamentals supporting the growth and health of the New Mexico economy, we really can scratch off heavily incentivised, highly subsidized, high technology manufacturing right away.  The dream is pretty enough, but the reality is like the now infamous "job creators" who keep consuming resources without producing results.

Our State's version of these "job creators" has plenty of amateurish, crooked politicians and other creatures which have descended here during the night from powerfully parasitic "visitors" such as ALEC.  The incredible collection of expensive repetitions of the "great jobs creation wet dream" amounts to no more than a New Mexican State tooth ache -- a picture of frustration and infuriation about the opportunities we've missed because we were plowing all of our development dollars into these "whirl winds."

New Mexico's future, sustainable economy will clearly not to be ushered in by the likes of Eclipse private jets or German solar panels.  Further, if not the high tech dream machine, then what?

We can start right away.
MeanMesa doesn't like to paint pictures of hopelessness and surrender.  Most New Mexicans are feeling understandably "down in the mouth" about this long series of failures, and the ones who aren't feeling depressed are, most likely, the same ones who were close enough to these boondoggles to walk away with some of that incentive money in their own pockets.
The way ahead will definitely not simply be a matter of "tweeking" the train wreck back onto the tracks.  New Mexico will need something akin to a "state-sized" Marshall Plan, but we can do this.  We can probably even pay for it in a reassuringly straight forward way once we quit wasting our development resources on expensive things that never develop.

MeanMesa has been off the air for a few weeks during the election, but now that's largely complete.  We are officially moving from the "politics phase" to the "governance phase" of both our Federal and State democracies.

This means that it's high time for some good ideas.  And, if we agree that the old ideas haven't worked for beans, the term "good ideas" means "new ideas."  MeanMesa has never been bashful about sharing new ideas, and this is no exception.  Here's the plan.

The blog-bunker already has a rough outline of the legislative work needed to transform the New Mexico economy -- along with a good list of economic development projects which can actually be done.  The picture of what we must demand from our state legislators is also filling out nicely.

Finally, MeanMesa sees the mood of the state beginning to move toward something quite different for our future.  That "something" must be carefully described, planned and, most importantly, demanded.  There is nothing material standing in the way of us moving toward the goals we have.

Here's what's to come.

First, there will be an announcement of a new member to MeanMesa, a co-author who will be adding a stereophonic second voice to some of the posts.  Second, there will be a series of posts which describe specific plans which the legislature should be considering to promote economic development.

Right now, the only folks writing new plans for New Mexico seems to be ALEC.  Naturally, ALEC plans, authored and promoted by outside corporate interests, can hardly be expected to serve the interests of the state.  MeanMesa has the bold ambition of inserting itself into that fray right away.

We'll be visiting soon.

One Final Thing

Every time Barack Obama smiles, an oligarch loses his wings.

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