I have to disagree with Jerry Ortiz y Pino’s column “We Were Mugged” [Oct. 22-28] on the mayoral election. While I often disagree with him on policy, in this case, I believe his analysis of the mayoral election leaves out some important details.
One issue is the relatively low turnout of 25 percent. Ortiz y Pino fails to even mention public financing and the fact that it dramatically limited the resources available for get-out-the-vote efforts, particularly for incumbent Marty Chavez. While conservatives have decried the limits on free speech that these schemes represent, the fact is that in this election, they helped Berry.
Indeed, if Democrats have someone to blame for losing the mayoral race, that person is Marty Chavez. Despite a struggling economy and rising taxes, he consistently pushed for a streetcar and an arena, projects that voters strongly opposed.
Notably, in responses to Rio Grande Foundation candidate surveys, both R.J. Berry and Richard Romero expressed concerns about these costly projects. If Mayor Marty had backed away from them rather than bringing the streetcar up in the waning days before the election, he might still be the mayor.
Lastly, Democrats split their votes, but the “Anybody but Marty” vote cannot be underestimated. Remember, Chavez undermined the will of the people with regard to a voter-passed term limits law that he had to void before running in the first place.
The good news for Ortiz y Pino is that the Democrats have another shot at the mayor’s office in four years.
Paul J. Gessing President, Rio Grande Foundation
Microeconomics, Ayn Rand and the Don
[Re: Letters, "The Don on Simplicity," Oct. 8-14] We have enjoyed once again the observations by Don Schrader on microeconomics of daily life in his urban hermitage. He catches the usual guff in reply, pointing out that asceticism isn't for everyone.
Set aside his trappings of Christian poverty and think of Machiavelli and Ayn Rand; you'll note that Don is on much firmer ground than, say, Ben Bernanke, the stimulus plan and the largely illusory American economy, which is preparing to settle in for a long and hard depression. One level of morality forbids consuming more than other people in the world have—that is noble. Another rule entirely states one can't consume more than one produces—the iron law of economics. Anything different is unsustainable. As Laurance Peter said, all things which are unsustainable, end. Like the American economy will. Is.
Wealth is merely the unspent earnings from productive effort. Economies thrive when the people become prosperous, because they earn more than they spend and become wealthy. Economies inevitably fail when they eat up their saved wealth.
The average American has been in "negative savings" for nearly five years now—spending more than income. Even more chilling, the proportion of genuine productive effort for the manufacture of real things, stuff actually necessary for living, has tanked. In Bernanke's world and Geithner's economy, a consumer economy is sufficient to magically make the loaves and fishes. The dollars go around in a magic circle and make everyone happy. Such transactions produce no true wealth; they merely postpone the inevitable collapse into poverty. America has eaten up its saved wealth; now we are grifting the Chinese with paper promises which we cannot honor. And we are reminded that the only way to survive is to spend what we do not have.
I presume that the Don and Ayn Rand would agree that only moochers or looters can consume more than they produce. Sooner or later, the mark gets wise to the scam and shuts off the source. It is one thing to live high on the hog on one's own productive labor; that's where Rand and Schrader might not see eye to eye. But they're in firm agreement about the cliff that we're teetering on. It's not just soft, cotton-candy morality; it's coming right here and now. It ain't the fall that kills you—it's the sudden stop at the end.
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