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Published: August 29, 2018
Peter DeBenedittis

WE’RE OUR BEST INVESTMENT

This weekend I was in Denver to celebrate my niece’s wedding. While catching up with family, I was struck about how much business was booming for the interior finishing contracting business my nephew’s family has in Colorado Springs. He told me there are so many new businesses sprouting up that he had to stop bidding on new jobs. His problem—he couldn’t find enough skilled laborers to finish jobs on a timely basis.

Colorado, like many other states, has a healthy economy experiencing sustained growth. So why not New Mexico?

The answer is simple. Colorado is being invested in. Foreign investment in Colorado in 2017 topped $1 Billion, more than double the investment made in 2016. ( https://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/our-colorado/international-investment-in-colorado-is-part-of-recent-growth-surge ) That investment is building warehouses and manufacturing facilities, along with apartment complexes and office buildings. Colorado can attract this kind of investment because it has an educated workforce and expanding infrastructure.

So how can we catch up? We invest in ourselves.

We have over $24 Billion in our investment funds. In addition to fully funding early childhood education out of our returns to help our workforce become educated, we should earmark 5% of investments ($1.2 Billion) for loans to small businesses in New Mexico. We don’t need to rely on overseas investors. We can turn this equation on its head. Instead of investing our money overseas or out of state, we invest it here—so we reap the benefits.

My nephew’s construction business shows how it works. He’s just finishing building interiors. His business is benefiting from the growth of another business. And he’s not alone. Suppliers, truck drivers, accounts and all kinds of other companies also benefit. The Billion dollars we invest in small businesses becomes 2-7 Billion in ancillary spending by the time it filters through the economy.

Check out this graphic showing how just fully funding early childhood education will grow our economy across the board.

New Mexico is blessed that we can afford to not only provide early childhood education, but we have the investment funds to invest in all kinds of small businesses. Of course, we won’t get as must money returned back to the investment fund. But instead, we’ll get 3-4 times that amount in extra tax revenues. And along the way, we’ll create good paying jobs and better profits for businesses across the board—especially in the rural areas that are suffering the most.

Here’s the bottom line. We’re sitting on $24 Billion. Our leaders won’t invest it in ourselves. They say they’re saving it for a rainy day while we get poorer and poorer. If you want something different, you’re going to have to vote for something different. Demand that the candidates you support pledge to fully fund early childhood education and invest 5% of our investment funds in New Mexico. Don’t accept their excuses why they won’t do it or vague promises about looking at it down the road.

If your candidate supports this, vote for her or him. If not, then remember, your vote for them is a statement to the universe that you’re willing to keep our state poor and less educated in exchange for whatever other policies they’re offering. I’m no longer willing to vote for any candidate who’s policies or rhetoric says we deserve less—regardless of how scary they paint the policies of their opponents.

The big lie is that our state is poor and not able to provide a good standard of living—even though the middle class used to be prosperous and everyone’s lot in life was rising before politicians started promoting social issue wars to distract from their economic policies that paid off their big donors while pulling the rug out from under the rest of us sinking. Many countries in Europe have figured it out and their citizens get good wages, healthcare and 4 weeks vacation a year. Too many politicians today use distraction to cover up the economic policies that concentrate wealth and keep most of us poor while they all retire millionaires. Keep your eye on the prize when you vote. Hold out for what you deserve instead of taking only what you can get.

Choosing between bad choices in no choice at all.

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