Hi Austin, This is a lot of food for thought. I'm a designer living in Santa Fe and I have become skeptical of talk of "growth". Here's my thinking: A lot of people have become disillusioned by the effects of a certain kind of capitalism that prioritizes growth for the wrong reasons. The company I worked for between 2001-2021 took this path. From private to public to wholly-owned by an investment company, the executives' focus drifted from the product and how to sell it, to pleasing shareholders. Ultimately I was laid off and the company continues to rapaciously pursue M&A to stockpile IP while constantly "trimming fat".... There aren't very many talented people there anymore. Growth for the sake of accelerated profits always looks like an arms race and it tends to always happen at the expense of quality, integrity, community, and really, everything else.

As a New Mexican I'm sure you can appreciate this metaphor: Right now, we can see all the glorious leaves on the trees. Notice the ones with a fringe of dead branches on top. Some trees want to grow tall, and they can, as long as they get enough water. After a few dry years, which is the normal condition in NM, their tops die, and they can't sustain such a large structure as before. You can see these everywhere. The available resources allow for a certain amount and rate of growth. The natural conditions limit that growth. There isn't an artificial motive or mechanism for the trees to just constantly keep growing taller and taller forever. To what end? Equilibrium in the whole system puts limits on growth.

A lot of words to say: Let's examine these disparate state growth patterns more critically; there is a passionate argument going on at Reddit (offline today in protest) about comparing NM to AZ, CO or TX. We might take the view that the growth in those states is artificially excessive, badly-managed, out-of-control. What gets sacrificed? Is it essential, intrinsic to the culture of that state? LA is a completely artificial city; grown out of redirecting a river's worth of water to a place that could never otherwise sustain itself. There has to be a way to see human economic growth as part of the overall systems of a region, and to size it appropriately.

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Jun 17, 2023·edited Jun 17, 2023Author

I think where we disagree is where you imply that New Mexico doesn't have the resources for growth. Yes, we have problems with water, but we can support a higher population and use less water. Irresponsible farming practices and loose water laws have caused the Rio Grande to be in trouble. And yes, NM has high poverty, high crime, poor education, etc., but the State is rich enough to provide infrastructure and social programs the support the lower and middle classes.

I find it to be a strange phenomenon that New Mexicans always feel like we can't afford anything or become more resourceful. I try to provide policy ideas that show how states like New Mexico can achieve wins for the environment and human well-being.

You're right - places like Phoenix have grown to their massive sizes despite being a place humans probably weren't meant to amass. Piping in all of that water from the Colorado River isn't good for our equilibrium. NM, on the other hand, has been the home of people for thousands of years who respected their environment and understood the value of their resources. NM can use water, land, and other resources in a way that respects nature and people.

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I moved here in 2016 for what I hoped would be a job I could stick with for the rest of my working life, but the fact of the matter is that I cannot wait to leave, worst decision of my adult life.

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