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Columns

  • Analyzing Laffer's Curve

    In 1974, Arthur Laffer, a University of Southern California economist, drew a curve on a cocktail napkin.
    “I have a weakness, like Janis Joplin, for Southern Comfort – but just three times a week,” he told me in 1996, when he was here to speak at a benefit.
    As a member of President Reagan’s Economic Policy Advisory Board, Laffer argued that tax rates had risen to the point that they weakened incentives to work, save and invest; as a result, both economic activity and government tax revenues were suffering. Tax cuts, he argued, would spur growth without being inflationary because they would yield higher tax revenues and increased savings to offset the initial drop in the government’s tax take.

  • What to do about social security

     The big lie of the 2012 campaign is that the nation’s entitlement programs need not be changed. The lie comes from the Democrats and is backed by fear mongering — the claim that Republican desire to fix entitlements — Democrats say “destroy Medicare as we know it” — would be awful rather than necessary.
    The entitlement programs are Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
    The PBS NewsHour snagged Nancy Altman, co-director of Social Security Works, a “social justice” organization, for an April 23 appearance. Altman said Social Security is “generally in good shape.” Upon hearing this, I almost rolled off the couch.

  • Tin soldiers and pepper spray

     The month of May brings with it yet another bevy of schedules, bills, places to go, things to see, people to do, and of course some fun holidays.  The first major holiday of the month is Cinco de Mayo.
     Holidays commemorate events, a time to remember, to reflect, to eat enchiladas.
     Cinco de Mayo is often confused as being Mexico’s Independence Day.  Last year (on Friday Sept.16), I mentioned to a student that “tomorrow is Mexico’s Independence Day.”, to which the student replied, “Really?  It’s Cinco de Mayo?”
     You’ve really got to be careful about not eating tainted meat in those enchiladas.

  • Following the money

    SANTA FE — With the filing of first-quarter campaign fundraising results now available, it appears there will be only one major primary election battle this year. The Democratic race in the Albuquerque-area 1st Congressional District features three candidates raising big money.
    Leading the pack is Bernalillo County Commissioner Michelle Lujan Grisham, with a campaign war chest of $345,000 to get her through the last two months of her campaign. She was the last to get into the race, so had been playing catch up until April 1.

  • How to avoid being a bad roommate

     For many people, having roommates is a natural transition between leaving their parent’s house and buying their own home. It can be a great way to trim expenses and save for the future. But if you’re not careful, cohabitating can also devolve into constant bickering over finances and dirty dishes.
    Roommate tensions are not limited to strangers. When cash-strapped young adults return to the nest, or older parents move in with grown kids for financial or caregiver assistance, long-suppressed family grievances can erupt if you’re not careful.

  • Making war on DWI

    One Friday night in a busy restaurant, my husband watched a man sitting nearby drink a shot of tequila, a martini, a margarita and two beers.
    “I hope I’m not driving near that guy,” he said.
    It made me question, again, how reasonable it is to assign responsibility to servers. The waiter was covering most of the room. The customer wasn’t visibly drunk, but impairment – holding your liquor – varies from person to person. We all know somebody who’s tipsy after one glass of wine and somebody else whose capacity is legendary. The heaviest drinkers may be the hardest to spot.

  • When business, politics mix

    Historian Dave Clary emails from Roswell wondering why, now that Wall Street tycoon Mitt Romney appears to be a presidential nominee, the press doesn’t seem to realize that running government like a business isn’t a good deal for our nation.
    Clary says it is worth noting that the last two corporate executives to run our country, George W. Bush and Herbert Hoover, presided over economic meltdowns. He also points to the Italian counterpart Sylvio Berlusconi as another prime example.
    The press has covered the subject of business and government being two different animals. Therefore the promise to run government like a business isn’t necessarily something voters should embrace.

  • Should you buy wedding insurance?

    Disastrous wedding mishaps have long been a comedy staple, probably because so many of us can relate. What bride- or groom-to-be hasn’t had nightmares about hurricane-force winds blowing over the reception tent or a drunken cousin falling into the wedding cake?
    Besides the potential for embarrassing memories, there’s a lot of money at stake: The average wedding in 2012 will cost nearly $27,000, not including the honeymoon – about what you’d pay for a well-appointed new car.

  • A dollar for your thoughts

    Every time it rains, it rains pennies from heaven.  Trade them for a package of sunshine and flowers, if you want the things you love, you must have showers.
     I do love Billie Holiday!  A time when one could be penny wise and sixteen ounces foolish.  When saving a penny was associated with earning.
     But today, would you equate a penny for your thoughts as a compliment?  When someone puts in their two cents, isn’t it just as easy to out-shout them with a dime?
    Once again, the innocuous cent is the center of intense debate.  In 1982, rising copper prices prompted us to change the penny’s composition to alleviate its production cost.  Pennies are now 97.5% zinc, with a 2.5% copper coating.

  • Higher taxes unnecessary to fund CIP projects

    Last Sunday’s Los Alamos Monitor article (“CIP projects face budgetary roadblock,”) highlights the reality of Los Alamos county government finances.  Even with our already high taxes, there isn’t enough money to do everything.
    This situation results from the county’s misplaced priorities and overspending on much of what it does.  While these shortcomings are most visible in capital projects, they permeate routine service delivery, too.