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New Mexico Offers Case Study in Economic Inequalities

New Mexico's stark economic disparities are evident in the state's north, from the affluent community of Los Alamos to the struggling Hispanic heartland of Espanola. Paul Solman reports on the reasons behind the inequalities and the efforts to narrow the gap.

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  • RAY SUAREZ:

    Finally tonight, our "Big Picture" focus on the political battleground state of New Mexico.

    With three weeks to go until Election Day, the NewsHour's economics correspondent, Paul Solman, reports on economic inequality in northern New Mexico.

  • PAUL SOLMAN, NewsHour Economics Correspondent:

    In the Land of Enchantment, a case study in economic inequality. First, a mile-and-a-half high on a New Mexico mesa, Los Alamos, home to the national lab that built the A-bomb to the Hilltoppers football team.

    A town as plain-looking as it is wealthy, really wealthy.

    It's amazing that this is the richest community in America. You'd never know.

  • DANTE CHINNI, The Christian Science Monitor:

    That's one of the things about Los Alamos is kind of how understated the wealth is here.

  • PAUL SOLMAN:

    Meanwhile, down in the valley of neighboring Rio Arriba County, the struggling citizens of Espanola and Chimayo.

  • SUSAN MCLUHAN:

    It's rough. It's very hard. I only get $29 in food stamps now. I have no transportation.

  • PAUL SOLMAN:

    To Barack Obama, speaking in Espanola, the inequality illustrates what the financial crisis is proving.

  • SEN. BARACK OBAMA:

    Let's be clear. What we have seen in the last few days is nothing less than the final verdict on an economic philosophy that has completely failed. It's the philosophy that says we should give more and more to those with the most and hope that prosperity trickles down like rain on top of us.

  • PAUL SOLMAN:

    In Albuquerque, John McCain promised change, as well.

    SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), Arizona: The status quo is not on the ballot. We're going to see change in Washington. The question is, will our country be a better place under the leadership of the next president, a more secure, prosperous, just society?