Monday, October 10, 2011

Quigley: Business Culture “Immature and Ineffective”

That's what the Journal's Win Quigley said of "our business culture" in the Albuquerque Journal’s Business Outlook this morning. (page 5, paragraph 5). Quigley was introducing his interview of George Boerigter, a part time New Mexican and owner of a 140-employee business in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Quigley's full sentence was, "I asked (Boerigter) to (critique New Mexico) because I have long believed our business culture is immature and ineffective."

Quigley didn't define our business culture. Nor did he define what he means by immature and ineffective.

Two things happened here. First, Boerigter seems one of those wealthy, well intended types drawn to NM by "The Enchantment." Usually such folks are liberals with inherited money and they go to Santa Fe and points north. Once here they find we are imperfect, which is true, God knows. So they set about saving us from what they see as our insular, ineffective, immature stupidity. Eventually they go away, convinced we are irredeemably stupid and backward.

Credit Boerigter with backing some of his ideas with money.

Second, journalists are people who ask questions for a living. Those questions generate from within the given journalist's moral framework. Quigley has done us all a favor by going public with how he sees the world that he covers. When faced with dealing with Quigley, we all should understand that he thinks we are idiots. Respond to him, yes. But respond with care.

The Quigley view, as expressed by Boerigter, is “The core business of this town is living off the government. The core local business is real estate: build, buy or flip.” Boerigter must not have noticed what happened to real estate around here the past few years.

As to “the government,” my argument remains: There’s government and there’s government. While the national laboratories and other research facilities bring an often maddening process orientation, they are not regular government, such as, say, the Bureau of Land Management or the EPA. The national labs are world class excellence and play an important role in the security of this nation. I’m glad they are here.

As to building private sector technology businesses, one might check with Sherman McCorkle about his years with Technology Ventures.

An element in play here is something I always associate with the late Gov. Bruce King. “I may be a country boy,” I can imagine King responding to some interlocutor, “But don’t ever call me a dumb country boy because I’ll ‘country boy’ you to death.” And he would.

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