Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Carruthers Unplugged And Uncut: Ethnic Factor Is Key To NM's Woes; A Cold Splash Of New Year's Reality; Hello 2006, Here We Come... 

Ex-Guv Carruthers
Those New Year's resolutions many of us make depend on reality. You eat too much, drink too much, smoke too much, maybe love too much. Whatever the case, it's all about defining the problem. What if New Mexico were to make a resolution for 2006 that faced reality? It would likely match what is outlined here by former GOP NM Governor Garrey Carruthers.

In a bold, blunt assessment, the dean of the New Mexico State University College of Business dares to say what the politicos can't or won't--our state's deep-seated education problems are race-based. The Anglos around here do pretty well, thank you. But widespread pockets of poor performance among Hispanics and Native Americans, not Anglos, is what keeps our state at or near the bottom of the important quality of life rankings.

Santa Fe could use the dose of reality administered by R Carruthers. But is there room for a dialogue that frankly confronts the ethnic factor, or will we get more chirpy talk about the beauty of diversity and how well everyone gets along in our little ol' corner of the world?

Diversity is indeed a strength if the people are strong. But in this majority-minority state the majority is neither strong or self-sufficent. Intentionally or not, Carruthers has opened a political opportunity for his Republican party. Tax cuts and biz incentives are not going to solve the educational issues Carruthers cites as the root of the problem. It's going to take a commitment to government.


The Big Bill administration has chipped away at the edges of the ethnic debate, arguing for more pre-k programs and improving scholarships and teacher pay. But being out of power gives Carruthers the advantage of being able to lay it on the line. As a group and generally speaking, Carruthers points out that White folks in New Mexico are getting along pretty well when it comes to education. Do you think NM Anglos, rated separately, would rank near 50th in all the important categories? No way.

What Carruthers did not say, but I will, is that Anglos also do not even come close to being afflicted with the rates of drug abuse, child abuse, spousal abuse, DWI, child poverty, learning disabilities and low wages that Hispanics and Native Americans confront. Don't want to deal with it? Then get ready for another 50 years of being fiftieth.

Hispanics and Native Americans have stuck with the Ds through thick and thin, but now with record surpluses available, the R's have a chance to broaden their appeal by following Carruthers and dealing with reality. If NM is to get out of the cellar, programs and policies need to be crafted that directly impact the particular woes of Hispanic and Indian New Mexico. Couldn't a middle-of-the-road GOP do that and not alienate its Anglo base? Why not? Could they do it in a fiscally responsible fashion? That's their calling card, isn't it?

Neither major political party or the biz community seems very comfortable in following Carruthers lead and calling a spade a spade and getting on with the game. But that's why we call them New Year's resolutions. They take resolve.


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