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Columns

  • Conscious capitalism ideas open business minds

    John Mackey is a radical. But Mackey’s radicalism—what he calls “conscious capitalism”— lies far from what one might assume given that his day job is co-CEO of Whole Foods Market Inc., the upscale purveyor of organics that lures sandal-wearing Subaru drivers. Mackey’s journey has taken him from the 1978 opening of a tiny natural foods store in Austin, Texas, with Renee Lawson Hardy to 264th on the 2012 Fortune 500 list.
    Along the way, Mackey developed a roughly libertarian philosophy—more than that, really, an ethos—with room for espousing ideas such as capitalism, natural foods and animal rights. And, yes, in case you are wondering, Mackey did donate to the Libertarian Party presidential campaign of former Gov. Gary Johnson. According to washingtonexaminer.com, Mackey gave $5,000.
    Mackey’s conscious capitalism has turned into an organization, Conscious Capitalism Inc. (consciouscapitalism.org) and a new book, “Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business,” written with a professor, Raj Sisodia. I will leave you to learn more at the website.

  • How to avoid tax refund identity fraud

    Many people file their income tax returns as early in the year as possible. Some are eager to claim their tax refund right away, while others are simply following their New Year’s resolution not to procrastinate until midnight, April 15.
    Let me add another good reason to file your taxes right away: tax refund identity fraud.
    That’s where someone uses your Social Security number (SSN), birth date and other private information to file a fraudulent income tax return in your name and then pockets the resulting tax refund.
    Often, a victim’s first clue is a letter from the IRS contesting their legitimate tax return, saying one has already been processed under that name. It can take months — and mounds of paperwork — to unravel the mess.
    This scam has proliferated in recent years thanks to a confluence of events:
    There’s a thriving black market in personal information stolen from healthcare facilities, nursing homes, schools, insurance companies and other institutions that require an SSN as identification.

  • Udall makes his mark on Washington

    SANTA FE – What happened to the big filibuster reform New Mexico’s U.S. Sen. Tom Udall was going to introduce on the first day of this session of Congress?
    We were told that the motion had to be acted on during the first day of a congressional session when changes to a chamber’s operating rules are in order and can be changed by majority vote rather than the 60 percent vote so often required these days.
    The answer is that Udall got his rule change introduced with 14 cosponsors, including New Mexico’s new senator, Martin Heinrich. The rules change awaited action for three weeks because the legislative day never changed.
    How could that be? Congress and many state legislatures have rules requiring a waiting period between certain actions on bills. But sometimes they want to rush a bill through so they save some legislative days early in a session.
    Legislative days in New Mexico begin and end at noon – theoretically. In actuality, they begin and end when the speaker of the House or majority floor leader of the Senate deems it convenient for moving bills along. It is called “rolling the clock.”
    The majority leader of the chamber will rise and say, “It now being 11:59 of the 1st legislative day, I move we adjourn until 12:01 of the 2nd legislative day.

  • Another approach to fixing the economy

    Are you really ticked off at the dismal condition of New Mexico’s economy?
    Are you sick of hearing about our lousy tax laws, our unwelcoming business climate and our unprepared work force?
    Have you lost patience with the reports about how much better our neighboring states are? Does it bother you (as my colleague Harold Morgan noted recently) that Texas and Utah ranked first and second, respectively, in a 2012 CNBC study for the most business-friendly state, while New Mexico was tied for 36th? At least we weren’t 49.
    Are you tearing your hair out about our mediocre education system and massive dropout problem? The education issue is related to the economy. Executives don’t want to move their families to a state with an inferior education system. You’ve heard that, too.
    Everybody writes about this. I’m asking what we could do that hasn’t already been tried and gotten bogged down somewhere.

  • One man's crusade to save a breed

    One small bill before the Legislature opens the gate to sheep with history.
    In the 1980s Donald Chavez y Gilbert bought the family farm in Belen, which was once part of the 1742 Belen Land Grant. “I jumped into farming and livestock,” he says.
    At sale barns he began to notice that some of the sheep were different – they had hair instead of wool or an occasional ewe had horns. He talked to sellers to learn more.
    “The old guys would say, ‘We would go out hunting and find these sheep.’” Or, ‘When we were rounding up cattle, we’d pick up some sheep. We could never catch ‘em all.’”
    Intrigued, Chavez began buying these oddball sheep and learning more about them, which started him on a 25-year quest to save a heritage breed.
    “I’ve been a student of history all my adult life,” he said. A descendent of land grant founders and pioneers, Chavez listened to his grandfather’s stories haunted the library. Before long, he was immersed in Belen Founders Day events, local genealogy, family journals, and archives.
    Spanish settlers brought a number of animals to New Mexico whose offspring are now heritage livestock – Spanish barb horses, corriente cattle, and Churro sheep, prized for their wool in northern New Mexico and Navajo Country.

  • New Mexico gets a D, but not an F

    Michelle Rhee got the Public Broadcasting “Frontline” treatment a couple of weeks ago. Cameras followed Rhee during the three years (2007 to 2010) she was chancellor of the Washington D.C. public schools.
    PBS was sympathetic to Rhee, an interesting notion, given that in D.C. Rhee took names and, gasp, fired people, and PBS is a bastion of liberal media that one ordinarily would think is entirely a creature of the unions controlling schools.
    Rhee now runs the nonprofit StudentsFirst (studentsfirst.org). On the website, the organization says its “mission is to build a national movement to defend the interests of children in public education and pursue transformative reform, so that America has the best education system in the world.”
    On Jan. 7, the day before the “Frontline” broadcast, StudentsFirst released its first “State of Education State Policy Report” (reportcard.studentsfirst.org).
    In the letter grade evaluations, New Mexico got a D, no real surprise there.
    The surprises are not getting an F and being in about the middle of the more detailed rankings. Further surprise is no state getting an A and only Louisiana and Florida getting a B.
    Rhee grades on a tough curve.

  • Papen’s effect on governor, if elected

    The New Mexico Senate is being run by still another coalition. What causes such a thing to happen?
    And how will this coalition work out? Will it provide Gov. Susana Martinez an easier pathway for her prized legislation? Will it make the governor’s 2014 reelection easier?
    The new Senate president pro tem is Sen. Mary Kay Papen. She is from Las Cruces, as is our governor.
    Papen said they are longtime acquaintances and although they have had their differences, they never have been adversarial.
    Papen describes herself as a fiscal conservative but a social moderate. She is a strong supporter of Sen. John Arthur Smith of Deming, a fiscal conservative who chairs the Senate Finance Committee.
    The New Mexico Legislature is not unfamiliar with cross-party coalitions running either the House or the Senate.
    Back in the late 1970s, a group of disenchanted Democrats joined with Republicans, who were the minority party, to form a coalition headed by a Democrat but run by Republicans.
    It was called the Cowboy Coalition because most of the Democrats were from the southern part of the state.
    The atmosphere was not pleasant.
    In the mid-1980s, Republicans in the Senate managed the same sort of coup, headed by Sen. Les Houston, a Democrat turned Republican.

  • State of the state is hemorrhaging

    Last week Gov. Susana Martinez delivered her third State of the State address since taking office on Jan. 1, 2011. It was, almost certainly, a public relations success.
    The governor was poised, smiling and gracious as she outlined her ambitions for the 2013 legislative session.
    It helped too that she surrounded herself with a bevy of smiling and poised youngsters and veterans and notables who composed an attractive picture.
    And to hear the governor tell it, “The state of our state is getting stronger.”
    Whereupon almost anyone who has been paying even slight attention to the situation in this enchanted land must surely have started scratching his or her head in disbelief.
    The fact is that in the months leading up to the current 60-day gathering of state lawmakers in Santa Fe, virtually all recent studies into the state of New Mexico’s economy have been disappointing, if not downright depressing.
    Early in January one such study, commissioned by the Santa Fe New Mexican, found New Mexico to be “dead last” among the 50 states in job growth between Jan. 1, 2010 and this past October, 2012.
    Indeed, data examined in this study indicated that New Mexico is one of only “two states still showing negative jobs growth” in the 14-month period examined.

  • It’s all in the name

     I remember as a child how my parents told me that my name John, translated as “The gods are great.” Or glamorous. Or graceful or gassy.
    Something like that.
     I found it amusing that my name would mean something other than just John and I never did know what language it was supposed to be.
    With all the Johns in my school, it might have been “The gods are generous.” Very generous. I mean, every Tom, Dick and Harry was named John.
    But what is in a name? Kabalarians profess that the alphabet has mathematical properties and that the letters in your name will determine your personality.
    Your name defines who you are, what your strengths and weaknesses are, your mental and physical being. 
    Your success in life and your entire destiny totally depends on your name.
    I once considered changing my name to Zortanbezzobog the Exalted High Wizard of Thunder, hoping that I’d get more respect from my friends. It didn’t work, so I decided to stay with John.
    Okay, so yeah, the Kabalarians are mondo wackos. But placing importance on one’s name is far more commonplace than you might think.

  • Deduction lifts gross receipts tax burden for businesses

    New Mexico’s gross receipts tax might make many business owners grumble, but the tax code contains provisions to help entrepreneurs compete with out-of-state rivals who aren’t subject to the tax.
    Taxpayers that sell services to out-of-state buyers when the product of the service is initially used outside the state and the product is delivered to the buyer outside New Mexico may be eligible for a deduction.
    For transactions to be deductible, certain guidelines must be met.
    Out of state buyer: An out-of-state buyer has no offices or places of business in New Mexico. If the buyer is an individual, he is not a resident of New Mexico.
    Product of the service: For an architect, the product of the service is the building plan she prepares. For a writer, it is the manuscript. The product of a service may be intangible, such as when a psychiatrist treats a patient, but it’s described as the benefit received by the buyer from the performance of the service.
    Delivery outside New Mexico: An out-of-state buyer receives the product of a service where he or his agent or employee accepts the product. An investment adviser, for example, delivers the product of her service when she telephones her client outside of New Mexico or e-mails advice to her out-of-state client at an out-of-state location.