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Columns

  • Should you adjust your tax withholding?

    Now that tax day has passed, chances are you’re either waiting patiently for your 2011 tax refund to arrive, it’s already been spent, or you just wrote the U.S. Treasury a check and are in budget-cutting mode.
    It’s difficult to calculate exactly how much you’ll owe in taxes unless your income and family situation are identical from year to year. But going more than a few hundred dollars above or below your final tax bill is not a good idea: A big refund means you’ve been giving the government an interest-free loan, while significantly underpaying means you may have to pay costly penalties and interest on the amount.

  • Johnson now a contender

    Gary Johnson hasn’t forgotten who he is.
    Maybe our former governor couldn’t elbow his way into Republican presidential debates, but he hasn’t been ignored by the media.
    Recently, he was even on the Comedy Channel’s “Colbert Report,” where he held his own with comedian-satirist Stephen Colbert – no easy feat. I once harpooned Johnson’s rambling speeches and off-topic digressions, but today’s he’s a poised speaker who communicates clearly and stays on message. The political caterpillar has become a butterfly.

  • State lacks Billy the Kid statues

     Now that New Mexico finally has a statue of Pat Garrett, our state’s best known lawman, Lincoln County War researcher Mike Pitel notes that the score on Billy the Kid statues is Texas: 2, New Mexico: 0.
    We recently mentioned San Elizario, Texas, just down the river from El Paso, has erected a Billy the Kid statue in its business district designed to increase tourist traffic to the village. Then there is a statue of the Kid and a small museum in Hico, Texas and a grave marker in nearby Hamilton, Texas.

  • Humans against the aliens

    Kids surround me. Kids from ages 5 to 17 surround me.  I have some in my house and then a bunch at my workplace. Because their ages vary so much I have different behavioral expectations for each of them. I expect that my 5 year old will behave differently than my 15 year old- I expect this, doesn’t mean it is true.  It seems the older they get the higher the expectation.  

  • Science takes back seat

    As the world celebrates Earth Day, it is time to separate real environmentalism from the fake variety. If there is one rule to follow in this regard, it’s this: if an idea is trendy, it probably isn’t good for the planet.
    As environmentalism has become trendy, politicians and businesses have learned that appearing green can lead to profit and political gain. Increasingly, science takes a back seat to policies that make people feel good or appear environmentally friendly.
    I write about the rise of trendy environmentalism in my book “Eco-Fads.” I outline the ways people often substitute feel-good approaches for the difficult work of following the science and economic to protection the environment.

  • History of women in NM politics

    In our continuing coverage of New Mexico’s centennial year, we focus today on women in New Mexico politics.
    For the first 10 years of statehood, New Mexico had no women in politics. During that period we were the only state west of the Mississippi not to allow women to vote except for education officials. But with the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920, that changed and women began making up for lost time.
    In 1922, two women were elected to statewide office and one to the state House of Representatives. In addition, Adelina “Ninai” Otero Warren won the Republican nomination to Congress but was defeated in the general election.

  • Dizzy on the Syzgy

    If you’re a triskaidekaphobic or paraskevidekatriaphobic, there is little chance you are reading this. You’re more likely hiding under your bed, covering in fear because today is Friday the 13th. Yeah, well, everyone needs a hobby. Having an irrational fear of numbers or dates is as good as anything, I guess.
    I have to admit that I suffer from coulrophobia, a fear of clowns. Well, that’s not exactly true. Actually, I’m afraid of a clown chasing me with a chainsaw while I’m wearing oversized swimming flippers.
    But Friday the 13th holds a special meaning this month (other than the ultimate fear of being chased by 13 clowns all armed with chainsaws). April 13th is Scrabble Day!

  • Knowing which financial records to keep, toss

    If the memory of hours spent hunting for and organizing paperwork to file your taxes is still fresh, think about doing some financial spring cleaning so next year’s tax preparation won’t be such an ordeal.
    Many people hold onto mounds of receipts and account statements because they’re not sure when it’s safe to toss them.
    (By toss, I mean shred – don’t give identity thieves any ammunition.)
     Here’s when you wouldn’t want to lack proper documentation:
    • If audited by the IRS you must be able to justify deductions, charitable contributions, income, etc.

  • Candidates at the door

    It must be spring – spring in an election year.  The first candidate of the season has beat the hummingbirds to my front doorstep. She is walking my neighborhood, petition and voter registration list in hand, asking for a signature.
    She’s running for the Legislature. What’s her top priority, I ask. Changing the tax law that reduces income tax for rich people – the one enacted when Richardson was governor.  
    Here’s the problem, I say. Before this tax rate change, New Mexico had the highest income tax in the region for the wealthy. Rich people can choose where they live, and will choose states where the tax rates are favorable. States compete for them.

  • Nonsense can be stunning

    Sometimes the amount of dissembling nonsense thrown at us is just stunning. Metaphorically stunning, that is.
    Some Department of Transportation genius decided to cite people supporting pilgrims making the Holy Week walk to El Santuario de Chimayo if the supply stands happen onto highway right-of-way. Safety was the excuse.
    A recent report (“The Economist,” Feb. 18) discussed the Obama administration’s “generous use of ancillary benefits, or ‘co-benefits’” and “private benefits” in proclaiming the bounteous gains from new regulations. The issues cover so-called gains from a regulation directed at something else.