Friday, January 27, 2006

"N.M., We've Got a Problem: Pay, Education Hurt State Grades" by Andrew Webb, Albuquerque Journal Staff Writer, Friday, January 27, 2006

New Mexico's high-tech assets could be eclipsed by its deep-seated social problems, according to a study of states' economic performance released Thursday.

Though the state ranked high for its concentration of highly educated residents, technology industry employment and employment growth, measurements such as its number of working poor, lack of insurance coverage and high teen pregnancy rates could stunt its growth, according to the 2006 Development Report Card for the States.
The state earned an F for overall economic performance, a D for business vitality, and a D for development capacity— the positioning of the state for future economic growth. Those scores were unchanged from the last study, which was issued in late 2004.

"The Report Card's data suggest that New Mexico's disappointing performance is fueled largely by the marginal quality of jobs available to its residents, the high degree of income inequality faced by its low-wage workers, and inadequate education investments," the study's authors wrote.

Greg Mello writes:

The highly-interesting and important analysis on which this story is based can be found here.

Some of the strengths listed for NM aren't so strong, upon closer examination. For example, the Ph.D.s at Los Alamos do not contribute that much to the state's innovation as far as economic development is concerned. Sandia's either, for that matter. Subtracting, say, 80% of the LANL Ph.D.s and 60% of the Sandia Ph.D.s (a reasonable correction) would leave us ranked....where?

Of especial interest: NM ranks dead last among all the states in "change in private R&D investment," with a decline of 78% noted from 1999 to 2002, the study's period of record. This significantly negates the presumption of R&D value from NM's federally-funded "innovation centers."

NM's change in absolute quantity of renewable energy -- + 0.22% for 1997 - 2001 -- was truly pathetic, thanks to PNM's vigorous efforts to block innovation and key enabling legislation. Perhaps it is somewhat better now that PNM has decided there is value in letting this industry develop a little -- as long as they, PNM, own as much as possible of it.

Our end of year fundraising letter contained the following remark:
The huge stream of federal funds associated with this work has not brought New Mexico wealth or jobs. It has brought us poverty. New Mexico’s decline relative to other states has occurred right along with the rise of nuclear weapons spending in our state. ... there will be no significant progress in alleviating poverty and other social ills in New Mexico without a different kind of political life than we now have. The level of respect for human beings implied in the humane and environmentally aware political life we need is incompatible with even tacit support for nuclear weapons.
The CFED report highlights NM's failure to invest in the people who live here. Strong support for the dignity of human beings is politically and morally incompatible with support for the nuclear weapons in our midst. The policy changes we need will require a different kind of politics and a different kind of leadership.

greg mello


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