Wow, what an experience 2018 has been. I am starting to see the Enchanting qualities and truly enjoy life here. I have now resided in (arguably) the two largest cities in the state; Albuquerque and Las Cruces and while not all of my experiences have been perfect, this state is starting to feel like home.
I think of New Mexico like the bubble wrap kid from Little Giants. Sandwiched between economic power houses – Texas and Colorado, it’s like politicians have sort of wrapped its citizens in protective gear so that they won’t get hurt. The metaphorical “gear” I am talking about is government subsidies. In fact, from my experience, it seems New Mexico is the easiest state to collect disability insurance, unemployment benefits, food, health care, education and even housing subsidies and many residents rely on this support for their basic needs and quality of life which seems to fair a whole lot better than most places for the middle and lower income earning classes.
The trade-off, I believe, is once someone starts relying on these subsidies and life is okay, they stop trying to improve their circumstance and sort of give up on personal improvement and life goals. Sadly, what often follows is drug and substance abuse problems and New Mexico seems a golden example of this. In fact, New Mexico’s claim to fame, Breaking Bad, perpetuates this stereotype in many ways. Walter White is a public school teacher who is diagnosed with cancer and becomes a drug dealer to compensate for the gap in medical insurance coverage. Furthermore, he does not want to burden his family nor colleagues with the expense of his diagnosis and also, faced with the potential for an early death, he would like to leave something more equitable behind to his children and wife – which he certainly succeeds at, however, at what cost the show graphically illustrates for all of us ordinary folks to ponder and regret.
I believe compassion is good, to a point. It is a delicate balance between government helping its people and government discouraging its young from pursuing success and greatness. From an anthropological perspective, I believe New Mexico and Albuquerque in particular cater to the weak, disabled and poor; the marginal populations, almost glamorizing and making it so easy for people who are none of the above to fall short. For the first time in my life, I have met younger people who think it is actually cool or appealing to be a stereotypical under-achiever and/or burn-out for lack of a better word. I find that truly sad and tragic in many ways and I wish for the sake of New Mexico’s future, it would stop promoting under achievement as something to aspire to.
I do not have all of the answers but I am hoping, instead of another income-based (ie. government subsidies) senior only living resort, New Mexico starts investing in its young through job creation, better housing options for the working class, employer incentives and the like – private not public sector spending. So New Mexico, you have a once skeptic cheerleader on your side rooting you on. Keep up the tech growth in Los Lunas, focus on really maximizing private sector jobs and keeping your young pushing and striving for excellence. Slowly remove the bubble wrap and thrive. If you need a compassion-less example, look no further than neighboring Texas. It’s sad to say it but their economic boom and growth among the working class and families proves tough love is sometimes the best remedy.
Please note, I’m not pushing for an eradication of welfare and/or government assistance – rich cities and states have that too but the difference between, for instance, Texas and New Mexico, as I know from living in both states myself – Texas has a lot of high-paying private sector jobs and New Mexico does not. If you don’t want to step-up to the plate and do what it takes to succeed economically, don’t be surprised when the business savvy and ambitious leave you for greener pastures.