Response To Gary Stradling: Doing What We Want To Do?


In a recent campaign piece, Gary Stradling stated that his “default choice” for public policy “is for each of us to do what we want to do.”  

Mr. Stradling’s approach is remarkably self-centered and destructive. Mr. Stradling writes as if the choices he makes only have implications for himself. Sadly, this is not the case. Rather, many of our actions have important implications for others, for our community, and sometimes for our nation and our planet. 

Mr. Stradling reflects the destructiveness of his position, for example, in his comments on water rates, especially for those “who like to garden or who support large families.” We live in a water scarce state that is in its driest two decades in 1,200 years. We need to ensure that people who are not indigent pay for the water they consume and that there are incentives for being careful in one’s use of water. This must be without respect to people’s choice of gardening or family size, since no governmental authority in New Mexico compels anyone to have large families or to garden. 

I hope that Mr. Stradling will come to understand the emptiness of his default policy and change it, at least, to:

“My default policy is for each of us to do what we want to do, while taking important account of the implications of our actions on others.”

This does not mean we must move to public policies based on compulsion. It does mean, however, that we need to approach some goods, like water, air, public health, and our public amenities in Los Alamos, as if they belong to all of us – since they do.