Population, nonsense and success in Cloudcroft

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By Harold Morgan

With the year-end cold comes hot news about population and various nonsense.

The population news is that New Mexico crossed the 2 million mark in 2009 for an estimated population of 2,009,671 as of July 1, 2009. That’s a 22,908 person increase, or 1.2 percent. Population growth has slowed since 2005 and 2006. For that one year, the increase was 1.36 percent, or 26,070.

Almost two-thirds (63 percent) of our one-year growth came from natural increase, the term for the margin of births over deaths. The rest come from net migration, the number of people moving to the state versus the number leaving. The net of 3,366 people moving from other states accounted for 41 percent of the migrants. The rest moved across international borders.

Between the census in 2000 and 2009, New Mexico added 190,630 people with 68 percent (129,591) from natural increase and 32 percent from migration. Of the migrants, a third came from inside the United States. New Mexico seems a less attractive destination these days.

New Mexico’s 2009 population is the nation’s 36th largest, a rank unchanged from 2000.

Nonsense comes in part from liberals’ continuing desire to regulate behavior. The Think New Mexico thinking group wants to tax sales of sodas and junk food. Rep. Karen Giannini, D-Albuquerque, seeks nanny state credentials with House Bill 23, introduced early, that says, “No person shall sell or supply or offer to sell or supply, any goods designed to appear as a tobacco product.” All things “movable at the time of sale” are considered goods. Giannini fails to offer compensation to those manufacturers she puts out of business.

Gov. Bill Richardson follows Giannini’s agenda of distracting legislative attention from the state’s budget shortfall (still down nearly $300 million for the current budget year). Richardson proposes a statewide ban on cell phone talking and text messaging while driving.

This is not necessarily a bad idea except for a few things: Communities are dealing with this issue. Richardson wants to pre-empt them. That’s bad. I guess he feels that those communities that have not yet banned the cell phone activity are stupid or otherwise deficient. How would the ban be enforced? Albuquerque’s ban is rampantly ignored. The small staff of the Hidalgo County Sheriff has a few other things on its mind.

The behavioral regulation gets better. Near Albuquerque’s Old Town, a six-block stretch of Mountain Road has an 18-mph. speed limit. Ever tried to drive 18 mph? The segment is a “bicycle boulevard” without bicycles.

Best of all, cheerleading is now an official high school sport. The new spending will come from where?

Finally, as part of the Tax Increase Tax Force, sometimes called the “Budget Balancing” group, Terri Cole, long time head of the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce staff, tossed out the notion of reimposing the gross receipts tax on food, plus some weird offset about buying veggies. Food stamps ease the impact such a tax hike would have on lower income folks. For my two-person modest income family, the tax would cost around $250 per year.

The 2009 present from state government is an overall deficit speculated to be around $1 billion. To pay the bill would mean about $1,100 from each of the 900,000 in the state’s labor force. Got your checkbook handy?

Switching direction, since it’s the end of the year and we’re supposed to be optimists, here is a success. Cloudcroft has just about dug out of the effects of the 100-mph breeze that wandered through a few weeks ago. Power was only out for a week instead of the three weeks first forecast. Crews from around the region appeared and got it done. That’s the approach we need.