I know many of us who own businesses here in New Mexico have been aware of this for years but have never been able to measure or validate it. But Forbes has and the news is not good. New Mexico tops the list of Death Spiral States in this recent article in Forbes. Basically you have makers and takers. Makers are those in the private sector that fuel the economy. Takers are those who burn the fuel either in a government job or on some form a government pension. The ratio should not be over 1.0 (one taker for every maker). In New Mexico, it is 1.56., the highest in the US.

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Forbes is obviously entitled to its opinion, but any analysis that begins with a dichotomy as patently false as "makers and takers" deserves to be taken with a generous helping of salt.

            This is great news! It demonstrates how important New Mexico is to the rest of the world and how much people love it and want to be here. For example, in Sierra County, which includes TorC, 30.9 percent of the people are over 65 years old, stalward workers who  come to the Land of Enchantment to retire in the luxury of warm weather and hot baths. These old folks would otherwise be spending their time in Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota, where they were givers. They are now takers on social security who spent their lives working in factory jobs and are now contributors to the New Mexico economy.

            The takers are everywhere. Los Alamos has bunches of them -- it’s the highest income county in the state and one of the highest in the nation. Average take per capita: $49,873, compared to $35,000 in the richest state, Massachusetts, and $27, 915 for the entire United States. These takers are a delight to have, pouring money into state coffers while working to protect America as nuclear physicists, and in other hard science fields. They have more Ph.Ds per capita than can be found almost anywhere. Los Alamos County possessors of at least a bachelor’s degree: 63.9.  They take a lot in Los Alamos. I suspect we get some of  it back in accumulated U.S. knowledge related to such things as war and peace and cutting edge science.

            Since New Mexico has only 17.0 people per square mile, it has a lot of land that isn’t inhabited. So the state takes from the federal government in a big way here. White Sands Missile Range is the biggest of the military installations in land area, and the general area benefits from another piece called White Sands National Monument. Many federal employees will retire across the mountain in Sierra County to continue taking. Meanwhile White Sands National Monument brings in nearly a million visitors a year, and if you add Carlsbad Caverns National Park,  Gila Cliff Dwellings, Chaco Canyon, Capulin Mountain, Salinas, Pecos, Bandelier, El Morro, et al, you have a sizeable force of takers from the federal government and income from tourists, those Minnesota folks mentioned earlier and often referred to as snowbirds. By the way, most of these federal employees retire in New Mexico and continue on the take, double dippers who also earn social security but at a lower level than the average American. A huge percentage are New Mexico born and raised, starting at the lower government service levels and working their way up over 30 year careers.

            The oil and gas revenues are also important. New Mexico lets the feds control about half the state, and uses their employees to enforce the law (Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Indians Affairs, Soil Conservation Service). The fed employees in these agencies are takers who spend their money here, but provide some important services, and New Mexico takes royalties from the feds for the oil and gas that is extracted from these lands.

            I could go on and on, but I have to run down to the bank and draw out my social security money. My wife gets social security, too. Damn. I should get the feds to mail it to me to keep the post office going. Those takers in the post office! Really.  

Take five, friends. 

Note: Almost all of the statistics herein provided by the U.S. Census Bureau’s State & County QuickFacts for New Mexico at  http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/35000.html. These facts are courtesy of the U.S. Census Bureau, an agency on the take, especially every decade when they hire local folks to go door to door in New Mexico, gathering data that has virtually no merit. .


Very, very nicely put...

It's a fact, not a derogatory statement. There are indeed takers and makers in a capitalist economy. There is a careful balance of the two for continued success and we are upside down. It's econ 101, not some ideological argument. If the underlying problem is that you aren't a capitalist, then I understand you're disagreement with the Forbes assessment.But I would be interested in how you think having more people receiving tax money than making it is sustainable? I'm guessing you'll say, just raise taxes some more...

 I'm saying that most takers were givers for most of their life, i.e., social security recipients. Everyone in Congress is a taker, everyone in the executive branch, including the president, all the justices on the Supreme Court, government contractors could be considered takers, the employees of large companies which get huge grants from the government are takers.  One can be a taker and a giver simultaneously as is true with a large percentage of social security recipients, who continue working. As Phil-O points out, it's a false dichotomy. No one has mentioned the takers in the military, including Four Star generals. The argument as presented by Forbes and restated by RunLikeaDog won't fly.

Izquierdo and Phil_0. The makers and takers model (which BTW are the words used in Forbes for those who seem offended) is based on cash flow which is the life blood of most economic ecosystems like ours. With a ratio of 1.56, you will have negative cash flow unless something changes in the tax structure and/or revenue stream.

Remember a few months ago when a moving company said that according to its records, more people were moving out of NM than in? Coincidence that the video in the Forbes article mentions that people leaving a State is a sign of the maker/taker ratio being out of balance.

and there are makers and takers--to use your vocabulary.  People who work in the private sector for minimum wage, but can't make ends meet and need some government assistance.  There's a lot more to this than just black and white, which I'm sure you are well aware of.  

Of course it's not black and white. But money is only produced in the private sector. Government only costs money. This isn't about the value some takers contribute or the value that some government provides. Unless the private sector is producing more than the government is taking...the system can't work. Currently, we are upside down. 

My point (which was, admittedly, very unclear) is that the statistics are most likely skewed. As several have pointed out, some of the highest paying jobs in NM are with the labs and even the "takers" are paying taxes.  Some of the lower paying jobs are technically "makers" in the private sector that might also be considered "takers" in needing benefits to make ends meet.  

Agreed, except that lower income people, that qualify for said benefits, don't pay a dime in taxes (federal). Making them purely takers by definition. Although they contribute sweat toward a maker making. I guess there is a sliding scale for both but I'm really talking net net.

(from Monahan - quote from Villanucci) "He said the format had become too right wing for his tastes and that the callers and their viewpoints also had made him weary."  

I'm not originally from here so I will give you my "not originally from here" take.  But for the Manhattan Project, New Mexico today would look much more like Montana, or Wyoming, or Idaho, etc.  Farmers wouldn't be at odds with major urban populations over water.  We would be a smaller state population wise but still be evolving "naturally".  Seventy plus years after the initial Project start up, and so-called "investment" of billions (trillions?) of federal spending dollars we are still at or near the bottom of nearly every economic measure.  Likewise with those federally sponsored PHD's, we bring up the rear educationally.  So where is the economic multiplier effect, the spill-over?  You can argue all you want about the beneficial contribution of "takers" but the reality is that everyone, either in public or private, acknowledges that NM is far too dependent on government and it is not sustainable.  The traditional rationale has been that when the national economy dips we don't go down as much and when the national economy booms we don't see that much of an increase but it is an acceptable trade off.  Apparently there has been a paradigm shift (think workers no longer outnumber Social Security Retirees and Medicare recipients) and those systems are not sustainable at the Federal level and the burden is being pushed down to the States.


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