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Columns

  • Stepping back from dam power

    Just over a century ago, when William Howard Taft was president and I was a young woman, an entrepreneur named Thomas Aldwell started building a dam in the Northwest woods of the Olympic peninsula in Washington.
    The 108-foot-high Elwha dam became an early hydroelectric powerhouse, helping to fuel population and industrial growth related to activities as varied as forestry and ship-building.  
    Over the following decades more hydro-dams in the West were built.
    Mega-dams like Grand Coulee and Boulder rose across rivers, and the cost for electricity to users dropped sharply.

  • Government only helps

    Here’s the recipe for growing an economy:
    “The growth rate of real per capita output is the sum of the growth rate of real per capita labor input and productivity growth.
    Productivity … is determined by the technology and regulatory structure of the economy and therefore is largely independent of spending policies.”
    The good words come from two economists, Harold L. Cole of the University of Pennsylvania and Lee E. Ohanian of UCLA. Their essay appeared Sept. 26 in the Wall Street Journal.
    Growing real per capita labor input means more people working more. Doing more stuff and doing existing tasks more efficiently grows productivity.
    Companies are doing something about growing real per capita output.

  • Fracking cracks open the crannies

    “Fracking” is shoptalk for hydraulic fracturing. The technology uses mixtures of fluids and sand under pressure to crack rocks underground and prop open the cracks.
    In the right rocks, the technique frees natural gas trapped in mini-pockets and adds greatly to the nation’s supply of the popular fuel.
    It works too for extracting oil. The industry proudly promotes fracking. A persistent TV ad shows a lady riding a see-through elevator deep into the Earth to highlight the value of fracking while suggesting no risks.
    But everything has risks. The chance of error and unknowns lurks on every side.
    The policy questions are what are the risks, who bears the risks and how can the total risk be cut.

  • Call for broadband access

    This week, two New Mexico health care professionals, two online learning educators and a small business owner, will travel to Washington, D.C. to ask congressional leaders to support efforts to expand broadband access to rural and underserved areas.
    Debra Newman, a physician’s assistant at a rural health center in Espanola, will lead the delegation.
    Joining her on the trip are William Dubois, a diabetes educator and resident of Pecos Valley; Alice Hopkins-Loy, Field Manager of Fast Forward New Mexico and resident of Santa Fe and Eva Artschwager, University of New Mexico distance-learning professor and resident of San Miguel County.

  • Just A Wag 09-30-11

    Facing one’s fifth decade with grace

    Rumor has it that a certain director of a local organization has come to the end of her 40s on Thursday — turning old enough to join her very own program.

    Send us your wags

    “Just a wag” features initial snippets of news heard around town. 
    The wags may grow to larger stories or simply remain snippets, either way this is meant to spark interest and provide food for thought.
    E-mail wags to lanews@lamonitor.com.

  • Breeding better wheat

    I spent this past summer trudging through six-mile treks each weekend with two good friends.
    We walked along the edge of wheat fields outside of town.
    My friends and I qualify as middle-aged ladies, so the walks counted as significant exercise — sad but true.
    One of the interesting things about the walks was simply observing the growth and ripening of the wheat fields by which we passed.
    We depend on wheat for bread, pasta, animal feed, noodles and perhaps most importantly — fresh-baked cinnamon rolls.
    Watching a whole field of wheat grow up, turn from green to gold, and finally be harvested is a magical production that never grows old, at least for us hayseeds.

  • John Pawlak: It does make you think

    I’ve always liked miracles. They come in so many different sizes and flavors, you get to take your choice of favorites from a virtual warehouse ranging from the surprising to the truly ridiculous.  
    And of course, knowing me, it shouldn’t be a surprise that I’m not particularly interested in writing about the surprising. And so let’s get ridiculous!
    First of all, we should wash away any criticism of miracles and admit that we all like them. Miracles are a staple of life. There’s Miracle Whip (it’s a miracle if you can figure out what this stuff is.)

  • A look below the surface

    What are we going to do about this health care system? Or this polyglot of programs we have instead of a system?
    That’s one of America’s big questions, of course.
    At the recent Domenici Institute conference in Las Cruces, Dr. Mario Molina of Molina Healthcare presented some sobering statistics that add focus to the issue.
    Molina talked about a category of people called “dual eligibles.”
    We have heard that people in their last months of life are the most expensive patients. Dual eligibles are next.
    Dual eligibles are people enrolled in both Medicare and Medicaid.
    They qualify for Medicare either by age or due to a qualifying disability and for Medicaid because of low income.

  • Standing against AT&T and Mobile merger

    Access to sufficient and affordable communication choices shape our ability to share and connect to information, resources and culture.
    At Young Women United, we have been incredibly concerned about the negative impacts an AT&T/T-Mobile merger would have on young women of color and all our communities.
    We applaud the Department of Justice for filing a lawsuit to halt this takeover, and calling the potential merger out for what it really is: an anti-competitive move that would raise prices and lessen quality of services for U.S. consumers, while putting more money in the pockets of gigantic corporations.

  • Snapshots of NM news

    Ours is a big state. Few others can boast population centers 492 miles apart, the distance between Farmington and Hobbs.
    Life being life, it’s easy to forget that the other corners of the state exist, much less take the time to pay attention to them.
    A few years ago, when doing Capitol Report New Mexico, I would survey community newspaper websites, taking a snapshot of local events. Recently I did the same survey. Sunday is the best day.
    In Columbus, businessman Philip Skinner wants a separate economic development group for the village.
    Southern Luna County gets too little attention from the group in Deming, Skinner says. (Deming Headlight, Sept. 16.)