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  • Brian D. Hinson

Poverty in Rural New Mexico



I haven’t been driving for Uber the past few months. I took a part-time gig as an enumerator for the 2020 census. Nearly 100& of my time was spent in rural areas, knocking on doors and trying to count heads. New Mexico usually ranks as one of the more impoverished states in the union, and this job allowed me to witness that.


There’s little point in the gritty details of the domiciles the less fortunate inhabit. You know it means a place in disrepair. Maybe you don’t realize that in most rural areas you have to pay out-of-pocket to drop your trash off at a transfer station. In every city I’ve lived in your refuse is picked up at your curb. It’s obvious some people cannot afford the solid waste service. Imagine a yard with no trash pickup for years. I drove through one area locals designated as the dump: a little-used road through a small canyon, the sides strewn with garbage.


As you know, I’ve been to plenty of third-world countries, and this looks essentially the same, just trade the shanty-towns for dilapidated trailers. Here, in the United States of America, the wealthiest nation on the planet. I’ve also been to nations like Norway, Germany, France, and they don’t allow their people to live like this.


There’s no magic bullet to eliminate poverty. But there are certain things that give your society’s people opportunities and a minimum standard of living. Here’s a few things other industrialized nations are doing.


Education. Fund the schools adequately, pay the teachers a great wage to attract highly qualified folks, make sure the kids can get there. Tech schools and college should be an expanded part of public education.


Sex Education. Where teen pregnancy is high, so is the poverty. Condoms in the high schools significantly bring down the teen pregnancy rate. The same for abortion access. In New Mexico, there’s a high percentage of Catholics, and having them in charge directly contributes poverty. If you’re a Catholic and against general access to birth control, go fuck yourself. No one gets pregnant that way.


Addiction Treatment. Treat it as a medical condition, not a crime. Addiction leads to poverty and crime, making it everyone’s problem.


Universal Healthcare. Over 600,000 people declare bankruptcy over medical bills every year in the United States. What else needs to be said?


Raise the minimum wage. No one can live off of $7.25/hr. Be serious.


This list could go on for quite a bit, but now would be a good time to look to the federal budget for dollars. Draw down defense expenditures to 25% of its current value and we’d save $540 billion EVERY YEAR. No, we don’t need 20 aircraft carriers. Three or four is fine. End oil subsidies: $4.6 billion. There’s more cuts to be done, but let’s raise revenue, too…


Raise the capital gains tax. When stock is sold, it’s only taxed at 15% to 20%, depending on other factors. This is just moving money around, not working for it, but workers are always taxed more. This needs to be changed. In 1960, the top marginal tax rate was 91% on everything earned above $3 million (in today’s dollars). Someone recently proposed a more modest tax of 70% on everything above $10 million. Seems reasonable.


There’s nothing on this list that isn’t being done elsewhere to much success. It’s not radical. But the oligarchs in charge will tell you some of these things are communist or immoral or whatever. The ridiculously rich are pretty much NEVER on your side.

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