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Columns

  • The more things change

    It’s human nature to cling to the familiar. We look at the way things are and we are comforted by the fact that things have always been this way and they’ll always stay this way.  
    Things that cost more are always better than things that cost less. Chicken soup will always cure any illness. The Earth has always revolved around the Sun.  
    And men have always been smarter than women (just don’t tell my wife I said that.)
    Life just seems to make more sense when we ignore the simple fact that things do change.
    One of my favorite subjects of change is standard units of measure. Take the inch for example. What could be more firmly rooted in history than the common inch?

  • New food emerges

    This summer has been filled with acrimony about the federal budget, with red versus blue politicians squaring off to hurl criticisms at each other.
    For a lot of us, turning on the news has felt like an exercise in masochism.
    Imagine my pleasure, then, at going to a recent meeting where Americans from quite different walks of life were gathered to learn together about something we all need – a nutritious food supply.
    On a recent and beautiful summer morn’ without even a breath of wind, a diverse group of citizens gathered on land belonging to Washington State University.

  • PRC drowning in perpetual angst

    The current Public Regulation Commission difficulties involving Jerome Block, Jr. aren’t the first time that five-member body has been in turmoil.
    In its dozen years of existence, it has been in almost constant disorder. The PRC was created in 1998 to replace a three-member state Corporation Commission that was always in havoc.
    The solution created by the New Mexico Legislature and passed by voters was to replace the Corporation Commission and the appointed Public Utilities Commission with one elected body that would be reined in by various popular “good government” features such as public financing and a ban on campaign donations or other favors from utilities they regulate.

  • Fix the knowledge gap

    Neutral is the outlook for the New Mexico economy from the Economics Group at Wells Fargo Securities.
    Wells’ only “upside risk” appears to be “if alternative energy begins to take hold over the near term.”
    Near term? What? A year or two? Snicker, chortle. Wells’ economists must be mainlining the green air around their San Francisco offices.
    One has to wonder if the neutral declaration, issued June 24, offers some insight about New Mexico getting no mention in Wells’ much broader report, dated April 13, “Economic Dynamics and State Competitiveness.”
    Maybe, being neutral, there are no dynamics to mention and no competitiveness to analyze.

  • Entrepreneurs: Beware of the valley of death

    Business owners know it takes money to make money; production expenses must be paid before products are sold and revenue is received.
    Entrepreneurs with a business idea have an even greater need for up-front cash.
    They must have enough capital to cover negative cash flow in the early months or years of new business creation and growth.
    Without adequate initial investment, they risk falling into the so-called valley of death – the deep and wide gulf that separates a company’s need for capital and investors’ willingness to supply it.
    Also known as the grand canyon of capital need vs. availability, the valley can be shallow or deep depending on the amount of money needed to develop the idea or product.

  • They didn’t actually ask me but...

    Read my lips: No new pledges. How’s that for a campaign slogan?
    The recent debate over the federal debt limit showed millions of Americans just how dysfunctional our federal leadership has become, if they needed another demonstration.
    Since the 2012 Congressional election season has already begun, it’s not too early to talk about what we really want from our representatives in Congress.
    New Mexico has only three seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, two of which have incumbent advantages, and one Senate seat on the ballot next year.

  • New Hispanic leader needed

    Redistricting never turns out how you think it will, warned Michael Davis, vice president of political programs for the Washington D.C.-based Business and Industry PAC.
    One demographic could trump lines drawn on a map, here and across the nation – immigration reform.
    “Republicans are in trouble with Hispanics,” Davis said, and in the last five years, Hispanics have outpaced every other group in population growth – by large margins. “Every year for the next 20 years, there will be 500,000 new Hispanic voters turning 18. It will play a large, deciding vote in elections.”  
    In New Mexico that increase was 16 percent and in Texas, 20 percent. Davis predicts Texas will be a blue state by 2020.

  • Alzheimer's is tough on caregivers

    No doubt about it: when someone you love is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or some other cause of dementia, it’s a crushing blow.
    Not only must you face the fact that your loved one has a degenerative and ultimately fatal condition, you also have to deal with a plethora of increasingly strange behaviors. Mother tells the same story 50 times a day and wanders the house all night, or dad compulsively loads and then unloads the dishwasher.
    Or your devoted spouse of 30 years is suddenly convinced you’re cheating on him with the next-door neighbor.

  • A new day of infamy

    The United States has endured and suffered through days of triumph and tragedy. Among the latter have been the stock market crashes of Sept. 28-29, 1929; Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941; John Kennedy’s assassination on Nov. 22, 1963; and, of course, Sept. 11, 2001, which needs no elaboration.
    Joining that infamous collection will be Aug. 2, 2011.
    On that day, Congress passed and U.S. President Barack Obama signed into law legislation raising the debt ceiling and borrowing capacity of the United States while making about $1 trillion of spending cuts to its already swollen deficit-ridden budget.

  • Energy key to development

    “You couldn’t pick a better industry to concentrate on.”
    Energy was the topic for Jim Peach. His audience was the interim Economic and Rural Development Committee.
    The Aug. 2 meeting was in Grants at the Cibola County Convention Center, which doubles as the county office building. Or maybe the county offices double as the convention center. Unlike the committee’s July meeting in Santa Rosa, a sign on the door said the committee was inside.
    Peach spoke “from an economist’s perspective,” a good thing since he is a New Mexico State University economist. His focus was uranium, the appropriate emphasis given Grants’ location in the heart of the Grants Uranium Belt.