Friday, August 26, 2016

A Return Trip To The Dark Side; Veteran Journalist Who Saw Hope Goes Gloomy Gus Again 

Not to end the week on a Gloomy Gus note, but adherents to the "dark side" concerning the state's future continue to grow. That's hard to ignore when many of them are "lifers" like veteran journalist Wally Gordon who has penned a noteworthy missive on the state of the state. After 40 years of reporting on NM, he tells us:

Joe, I really saw glimmers of hope a year or so ago but now I'm afraid I’ve joined you on the dark side.

Maybe the good news is if it's darkest before the dawn our fair state may be in for a break or two. Meanwhile, Gordon writes:

• Major programs like food stamps and Medicaid are being so badly administered the federal government is probably going to have to run them for us.

• State and local police forces seem to be wearing handcuffs themselves in the face of rising crime rates and escalating complaints of use of excessive force.  APD can’t recruit the cops for which it is budgeted.

• A new study by WalletHub ranks New Mexico public education as worse than any other state’s except Louisiana. The quality of public education has continued to worsen for six years despite the stated intention of Gov. Martinez to make its improvement her highest priority.

• In a national study of high school students, New Mexico ranked second highest for cocaine and Ecstasy use, fifth highest for methamphetamine and eighth highest for heroin.

• Another WalletHub study ranked New Mexico worst in the nation for the percentage of children who are “food insecure.”

• Unemployment in the state is one of the highest in the country, two full percentage points above the national average.

• In June, 866,609 New Mexican had jobs. In 2005, the number was 871,248. We are now in our second lost decade.

Almost every week somewhere in New Mexico a long-established business closes. National chains are closing their local branches. Once-successful local businesses are declaring bankruptcy. There are fewer concerts, plays and festivals. People just don’t have as much money to have fun as they used to.

Young, educated men and women are leaving the state. At the same time, enrollment in colleges and universities is declining, further shrinking the most promising part of the future workforce.

On top of all these crises, we now have a budget crunch with no apparent resolution. The combined deficits for the past fiscal year and this year are in excess of $650 million.

Other states have been where we are now. Most that scraped bottom at one time or another—California, Georgia, Alabama and South Carolina come to mind—have found ways out of their morass. A very few, like Michigan and West Virginia, seem permanently stymied. Unfortunately, tragically, New Mexico looks more and more like one of the latter. Loving my adopted home, the native home of my wife, the home of my wife’s large extended family, the chosen home of my son, I lament its sad fate.

Welcome back to the dark side, Wally. To paraphrase Willie Nelson, "Oh, the night life, it ain't no good life. Ah, but it's our life."

Thanks for stopping by this week.

Reporting to you from Puget Sound, I'm Joe Monahan.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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