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Columns

  • PAYT is harmful and inequitable

    In the Nov. 3 Los Alamos Monitor, there is a View Point discussing claimed environmental benefits for the “Pay-As-You-Throw” (PAYT) rate structure for trash pickup.
    Contrary to the conclusion of that writer, the PAYT system is an environmentally harmful system and is also inequitable for the following reasons:

  • Calling loudly for change

    It’s no coincidence that the big banks backed away from new debit card fees.
    The Occupy Wall Street protesters are just one manifestation of broad discontent.
    The Occupy phenomenon is fascinating on several levels.
    Journalists write every day about wrongs and injustice, hoping that somebody will care enough (or be embarrassed enough by the glare of publicity) to do something.
    We’ve seen the poor catalogued in increasing numbers, and we know food banks and nonprofits are scrambling to care for them.
    We also know – and Warren Buffett confirms – that the wealthy get a pretty good shake, taxwise.

  • Forecast has glimmer

    The New Mexico economy is not “rocketing” to recovery, claims by headlines in Albuquerque notwithstanding. Nor is any explosive takeoff expected.
    Growing some is what the state is doing. That is expected to continue, though getting back to 2 percent annual job growth isn’t even in the intermediate-term cards, much less being a near-term prospect.
    This modest assessment of the state comes from the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, the Department of Workforce Solutions and from the state’s consensus revenue estimate, released Oct. 19 by the Legislative Finance Committee.
    Mark Snead, Denver-based vice president and branch executive for the Kansas City Fed, has the happy situation of not being bound by other guys’ numbers.

  • Sitting on our historical assets

    In Texas for work and play, we see the scorched mesquite remaining from their wildfires.
    Hundreds of miles of dead trees guarantee more fires to come. But the icy fingers of the recession haven’t chilled Texas as they have New Mexico.
    As usual, I can’t resist studying how Texas does things – in this case, tourism.
    I’m here to see Fort Griffin, or what’s left of it, perched above the Clear Fork of the Brazos.
    The grounds are spacious and even include a small herd of Texas longhorns.
    “They’re just big puppy dogs,” says the visitor center staffer, who assures us we can just walk around them.
    Every fort has a story to tell, but they’re not just a history lesson.

  • ISO: A bridge to modern self regulation

     Rainfall is like regulation. Too little or too much of either is bad news for the economy.
    The flood of bad news these days begs for new paths to take.
    One prospect is self-regulation with a modern twist. The task is for an industry to regulate itself and self-enforce effective rules on all of its members. Experience says the task fights against human nature.
    More human nature says that camps fight against anything from outside their camp that restricts how things are done.
    Human nature will never change, so how can regulation be made effective and efficient?
    One way is by changes that make different use of human nature. How might industry really self-enforce its own regulations and why might it work for a large problem?

  • Leisure pool logic

    I have been on the Los Alamos County Council for just over 100 days. I have to admit that it sometimes seems like 100 years, and that each council meeting, 100 hours long.
     I have learned much in this time about county operations and those challenges and opportunities facing us.
    It is my duty to be responsive to your queries and comments and to follow-up with staff, but I have also learned that my main task on council is not to be the investigative reporter for the Los Alamos Monitor; my main obligation, my “real job,”  is to think hard about and to help set long-term direction for the county.

  • Wilson on spending, healthcare, regulation and national security

    This is the second of two columns sharing my mid-October conversation in Albuquerque with Heather Wilson, former congresswoman and Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate.
    Morgan: What are your observations about the financial challenges facing the country?
    Wilson: (President Obama has) chosen to make this a political issue rather than trying to figure out what’s right to do for the country and start working to figure out how we’re going to bridge these gaps and get back on the right path to something that’s fiscally sustainable.
    I just found that tremendously disappointing. So it does require the political will to say we will do what is best for the country.

  • Behind the U.S. Senate race scenes

    Any visible action still is sparse in New Mexico’s congressional races. It is surprising because U.S. Senate contests without an incumbent usually happen only once every 30 years or so.
    House districts #2 and #3 are slam dunks but Congressional District 1 will be lively because Rep. Martin Heinrich is leaving it to make a run at the U.S. Senate.
    Labor Day is the usual kickoff for such races but it didn’t happen this time. Neither did the kickoff of nomination petition signing in early October create a stir. But much has been happening behind the scenes. Here is a run-down of the action there.

  • John Pawlak: Shooting my mouth off

    A recent news story heading read “Man in wheelchair shot to death by Phoenix police.”
    Personally, I found it surprising that getting killed by the Phoenix police would merit the cost of printing ink.  
    “Phoenix police investigated for being nice to visiting stranger” would have been a more news worthy item.
    But still, one might wonder why the journalist chose to use those particular words.

  • Steve Jobs vs. free market

    The death of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, who was well and justly eulogized in the national media, offers perspective on the meaning of the free market.
    Jobs became an icon of the free market by creating products that people bought because they wanted them.
    But many of today’s most attractive opportunities to get rich are not in the free market at all, and this is noteworthy in the national debate on the future of tax policy and the economy.
    It’s argued that taxes on the wealthy should not be increased because if they keep their money, they will, through the free market, create the jobs.