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Columns

  • Fiddling seen in tax changes

    Taxes are complicated and difficult, except when they are simple.
    The observation comes in the wake of my annual chat with the tax lady and the end of the legislative session.
    Like most topics, taxes are simple at the big picture, the most general.
    In the tax world, three main areas offer themselves as targets for being taxed: property, sales and income. For income, corporations and people are taxed separately.
    In New Mexico, even at the most general, tax concepts are more complicated. That’s to be expected. Everything seems more complicated here, disrupted by the magic dust of enchantment.

  • Education reform inches along

    When did education become so complicated?
    Legislative hearings on education bills this year were knee deep in data and jargon, some of it borrowed from business: “value-added measures,” “human capital,” “formative observation,” “core competencies.”
    Pity the parent trying to follow these discussions.
    To cut to the chase, there are three overriding conflicts in the debate over education reform. Topping the list is testing. Teachers say they’re saturated with tests and object strenuously to any more because they’re not a reliable measure. The governor and her education staffers think we need more tests. Like them or not, standardized tests are costly, in money and time.

  • Lab needs to be protected

    This week, New Mexico received news that, due to budget cuts, the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) is moving forward with a voluntary separation program that seeks to reduce the workforce of the lab by up to 800 employees.
    For nearly 70 years, Los Alamos National Laboratory has contributed to the safety and security of the United States.  Its economic footprint in New Mexico has been significant, contributing in terms of dollars and jobs, both direct and indirect.  LANL contributes more than $2 billion to New Mexico’s economy and its impact can be felt throughout the state and the many local businesses the lab works with.  The vitality of the lab is critical to the economy of our region and news of job cuts at LANL is of great concern.

  • Alexander and work comp reform

    Ben Alexander was still going strong the last time I saw him, about 10 years ago, when he sat on a panel for a retrospective on the New Mexico workers’ compensation reform of 1990.  He had been an indispensable member of the task force that labored for months hammering out a compromise to save the state’s economy.
    Alexander died in January at age 91. He is remembered for his political activism, chairmanship of numerous boards, philanthropic activity, and for always being willing to travel from his home town of Hobbs to wherever he was needed.   

  • My mouth went off

    I was sitting in the lobby of the “Innocent Little Angels Child Care Center,” waiting for my friend as he was picking up his toddler.
    Suddenly, I started cursing, spitting out a stream of obscenities that would make a sailor blush.  I did feel a bit guilty about all those crying children.
     This incident reminded me of the week before when I was visiting the “Golden Years Nursing Home.”
    There too, without warning, I suddenly blurted out a few hundred choice verbs, adjectives, and colorful metaphors.  I’m not sure why so many old people were clutching their chests.  Maybe something they ate?

  • Questioning the county

  • Stop the insanity

    The troubled economy, both here and in Europe, has dominated most people’s thoughts.
    Yet all around us are threats, with far reaching consequences to the national security of the United States, which must be dealt with….either on our terms or our enemy’s terms!
    In the simmering caldron of the Middle East, Iran’s radical Islamist leaders continue their progress toward attaining a nuclear weapon. And while they do that, unfettered by the timid foreign policy of the Obama administration, they create trouble wherever they can.
    Examples include their active support of the brutal Assad Regime in Syria which becomes a dependent surrogate that will aid and abet their ambition to control the entire Middle East, and destroy Israel.

  • Grading schools on a curve

    Candidate and current President Barack Obama recently let 10 states off the educational hook, as it were, by waiving their need to follow the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) requirements.
    Eleven states wanted out of the legislation, but one lowly state was, er, left behind.  
    Ours.
    Aside from this being another deliberate act by the Obama Administration to skirt Congress – a nasty habit that Americans are becoming enured to – a cynical person might take a look at the 10 states that got a pass and think, “Well, in an election year you’d probably want to make sure teachers and soccer moms in Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oklahoma, and Tennessee remember who grades their papers.

  • Seeking the bottom of the real estate market

    Seeking the bottom of the real estate market in New Mexico isn’t quite the fantasy of our quest for an interim committee meeting in Santa Rosa last summer. Unlike at the Blue Hole Dive Training and Santa Rosa Conference Center, signs exist in the real estate world. The signs have numbers—monthly, quarterly and annual sales figures. Some hope may exist.
    For existing home sales, a rough rule of thumb used to exist. Something like, more population means more jobs, which means more home sales.
    At best the rule is hampered by today’s reality of foreclosures, financing difficulties and  homes worth less than the amount of the mortgage, even if the owners are making the monthly mortgage payments.
    That said, let’s look around.

  • Two party system has got to go

    Mr. Pawlak was so close to “hitting the nail on the head with the hammer”, (I believe that was one of Reagan’s favorite sayings, but I may be wrong). There’s only one problem this country has that is going to be our downfall within a generation. The two party system.