Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Time For For Another Edition of Reader Vox Populi; They Opine Of Guns, The Humongous State Surplus, Blue Sky Economic Plans And More

We're overdue for another edition of the always popular Reader Vox Populi so let's gather up the email and have a look.

Corrales reader Paul Stokes writes of our Aug. 24 blog on the immense surpluses that continue to pour into Santa Fe from the oil boom in SE NM. He comments on the fact that there are still no comprehensive plans on how to specifically use the fortune to improve the state's dismal rankings in education, child well-being, addiction and poverty etc.

Where indeed is the plan? Thanks for calling attention to this. The public is mostly unaware of any significant activity in this regard. If it’s happening, they should tell us. Why is it that neighboring states that have little or no income from the likes of our O&G industry, yet they out-perform us? We should be learning  how they do it. Meanwhile, the recent announcements of establishing solar-related plants is encouraging. If we are going to restart out economy, the renewable energy area is a natural place for New Mexico to start. 

Former Santa Fe state Senator Roman Maes writes of the big surpluses from San Diego: 

Joe, Why collect taxes if you're not going to use them? The Legislature needs more vision, more foresight for the future. They are content getting 3% return by investing so much of the surplus on Wall Street. If they circulated money on worthy projects that benefit the public they would get goodwill and strengthen the aspirations of New Mexico’s young folks. What about creating a state of the art trade school for electricians, plumbers, sheet metal workers, auto mechanics, welders and more? Solid job opportunities that pay very well. The list goes on.

This reader is cynical about the excess revenue piling up: 

Hello Joe, the reason money is piling up from oil revenue is that no one has figured out how to steal it! All you have to do is ask us--those living with crime and poorly educated children what to do with the revenue. But not in the land of Movida. Those in charge want it for themselves and their donors' grandiose development schemes. You know, all-electric vehicles and hydrogen and PNM takeovers--leaving us still crime-ridden and with way under-educated children. The more things change the more they stay the same. 

Reader Gary Ferguson writes with a rant: 

An amazing situation? Extra billions but no clue how to help the people of NM? Oh, maybe NM could "invest" a few billion in a NM owned and operated Developer of Renewable Energy and Transmission. And, maybe if it's not too late, invest in a NM owned/operated Oil/Gas Operation as long as we're going to keep producing NM's oil/gas resources and sending the big bucks to Houston. Rant OFF, G. 

This is not from out email but comments on the cash stacked to the rafters in Santa Fe: 

About $5.2 billion in capital funds (for construction projects) are still outstanding, according to the LFC. Fred Nathan, executive director of Think New Mexico, a nonpartisan think tank in Santa Fe, said the report underscores the need for reform. "The staggering $5.2 billion sitting idle, while construction costs rise, makes it more urgent than ever to reform New Mexico's broken capital outlay system so that the state prioritizes and fully funds critically needed infrastructure projects," he said, "instead of piecemeal funding a grab bag of less urgent items.” 


Joe Monahan
We asked readers on the Aug. 23 blog if we were missing something when it came to the explosion of gun homicides among teenagers in ABQ. We argued that fewer guns would mean fewer murders and pointed to the slaying of a five year old girl on ABQ's westside. Some agreed and some didn't. Here's reader Kelley Vigil: 

Joe, You’re absolutely right, fewer guns, fewer shootings. Right, now the city streets are flooded with guns. Feels like there’s a gun in every car. These days I drive around with caution. Careful not to accidentally provoke someone in traffic. Thankful our kids are not teens anymore. Thankful that what we dealt with was having our house egged (five times). Not so very long ago. I was a teenager in Albuquerque in the 70’s and 80’s. The LAST thing we worried about was being killed by guns. The city wasn’t awash with guns as our nation is now. Sad. More guns, more using them. I agree that in light of current conditions education in schools (early) needs to happen. We do it for drugs, needs to be done for guns. The murder of 5 year old Galillea Samaniego, a beautiful child. This should not have happened. 

Reader Trish Livingston sees it differently:

You wrote: “Tell us if we're missing something." Okay. If we reduce the presence of guns in their lives, we reduce the horrific murders. Or are we missing something?” Of course you are missing something, until parents are held accountable nothing will change. Having lived in southern NM for over 30 years, guns are as common in many households as a computer or a car. Youth are not running around shooting each other in other parts of our beautiful state. It wasn’t long ago, young high school boys would go to school with their rifle in the back of their truck so they could go hunting after school. Clearly, the availability of guns is a correlation not necessarily a causation. Poverty, the breakdown of the family, and the lack of discipline and structure in these young peoples lives is never discussed and never addressed. Single mothers need extra support for those working night shifts. Education on gun ownership and gang membership should be tackled and yes, parents need to keep those guns locked up in these frightfully violent times. Finally, parents must be held accountable. 


Read Alan Schwartz comments on our Aug. 17 blog on Virgin Galactic's precarious financial position and Spaceport America near T or C:

The Spaceport has been an unqualified success on several fronts. First and foremost for Richard Branson who over several years has cashed out over $1 billion of stock holdings which he used to prop up other Virgin enterprises. 

Appreciated the comment about the annual drawdown VG continues to make. I think the most recent was $3 million and there was an additional request for $10 million for an operations building. The media continues to cite the decades old $215 million as the cost of the Spaceport when actually it is millions more. VG continues to forecast ultimately having 400 flights per year from multiple spaceports internationally. Over one flight per day when they can barely manage one flight per month. 

On our Aug. 14 blog regarding Maxeon's announcement that it would build a large solar manufacturing plant at ABQ's Mesa del Sol, we get this: 

You wrote "We've been here before." Each time it's with the promise of billions or hundreds of millions in investment and tons of "high paying" jobs. With respect to solar panels, remember Green2V, the company whose corporate headquarters was a mail drop at a Las Vegas UPS store?

More recently there was Theia Orion, the satellite company who had never launched a satellite. 

And then there was the "ghost town" for SE NM that was to serve as a test bed for automated everything. And Eclipse Aviation, who never got farther than the Sunport when the plan was to create thousands of jobs. 

Currently we have Universal Hydrogen planning to manufacture canisters to haul hydrogen to airports everywhere for hydrogen powered electric airplanes. So far they have had a successful flight with one engine of a twin engine turbo prop so I guess you could say they are half way there. 

We continue to welcome your comment, opinions, rants and existential angst. 

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