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Columns

  • Economy bumping along

    News, good, bad and of no significance, came in the latest job numbers from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics and the state’s Department of Workforce Solutions.
    The insignificance in the changes from January 2011 to January 2012 was both in terms of size—the changes being small—and statistics—the changes also being too small to matter.
    For example, we added all of 300 people to the labor force between December and January, the BLS said, bringing the January labor force total to 920,800 on a seasonally unadjusted basis. The change is both small and statistically insignificant.
    That the labor force grew, however slightly, was a switch, a bit of good news.

  • What's in a word?

     Thomas Jefferson once said, “The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.”  Of course, he could have said, “when one suffices.”  Oh well, word up!  What’s in a word?
     Years ago, my wife and I were playing Scrabble with her father and my wife laid down the word “zit” for 32 points (Z on a triple letter score).  Her father promptly objected, complaining that “zit” wasn’t a real word.  It wasn’t in his extremely large dictionary (the Merriam Webster 1953 Edition) and so it couldn’t be a word.

  • Political craziness abounds in state, nation

    SANTA FE – The year 2012 is turning out to be a very weird political year.
    It began with the GOP presidential contest. The race began in typical fashion for a party with no incumbent. A field of about eight potentially viable candidates went to Iowa.
     Rep. Michelle Bachmann won the summer 2011 Iowa straw poll.  Then Rick Santorum won the Iowa primary caucuses in January 2012. Gov. Romney won New Hampshire and Newt Gingrich won South Carolina.
    That set a record for an even race. Usually by Super Tuesday in early March, the field had narrowed to one favorite. But this time four candidates remained. And now in late March, four candidates vow they are in all the way.

  • ACA is bad for the state

    The U.S. Supreme Court will shortly discuss the ACA, the latest abbreviation for the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act of 2010, pejoratively named Obamacare. Defenders of the law like State Senator Dede Feldman say the law is good for both New Mexico and the U.S. They argue that a) it brings lots of money into our state; b) creates new jobs; c) increases insurance coverage; and d) eliminates the exclusion for pre-existing condition.
    ACA may bring large buckets of federal dollars into New Mexico, but that money will be spent on bureaucracy, not on patients. ACA is likely to increase jobs – 38,000 to 47, 000 new bureaucrats, regulators, insurance adjusters, IRS investigators, and compliance officers, but not one new nurse or doctor.

  • Surprises at Dem convention

    New Mexico Democratic and Republican activists have lately busied themselves with something called pre-primary nominating conventions.
    These conventions go way back in state history, although there were a couple of decades between 1975 and 1995 when they fell into disuse.  
    By 1996, however, pre-primary conventions had been reinstituted and every election year since, roughly two months before June primary elections, delegates of the two major parties congregate to listen to endless speeches and, more importantly, to designate which of the candidates running for their nominations to sundry state and national offices have top spot on their primary ballots.

  • Constitution has its problems

    “Organic law” failed to deeply penetrate my consciousness the first time or two or three I saw the phrase on page 26 of “Governing New Mexico,” the text used in university political science classes.
    At some point, however, I underlined the entire sentence, “New Mexicans have a chronic problem with their organic law, as we shall see.”
    The most recent look at the sentence came as the New Mexico First town hall approached. New Mexico First (nmfirst.org) is a “talk shop.” Citizens gather to consider topics defined to be important and produce policy recommendations. The topic for the coming meeting, March 22 and 23 in Albuquerque, is “Learning from our past. Planning our future.”

  • Redistricting stretches lawmakers

    Redistricting is over. A tense special legislative session, followed by lawsuits, followed by disagreement between the Supreme Court and the judge appointed to sort it all out confirms that nobody will be entirely happy with the new districts.
    As Sen. Bill Payne said at one point, “Every plan we get down here, we’ll think somebody’s thumb was on the scale.”
    The 2000 redistricting was also far from perfect. Then Senate President Pro Tem Richard Romero, a Democrat, cut a deal with Republicans to protect incumbents, said Sen. Dede Feldman, D-Albuquerque. So the 2000 redistricting didn’t adequately reflect growth and change in the state.

  • Lives cut down too soon

     With all the coverage of Whitney Houston’s unfortunate death, it reminded me of what another celebrity said recently. In an interview about his life, George Clooney said that his uncle’s death had been a huge turning point in his life, for one reason. His uncle, a smoker, drinker and general “hick” had died of lung cancer. One of the last things he uttered was “what a !@$!@ waste.” It made George look at his own life, and be determined not to lie on his death bed and utter the same words. Since then he’s been an active, and celebrated, activist and advocate for those in the most terrible situations worldwide.

  • Saving the most abused kids

    Families who adopt children are scrutinized within an inch of their lives by social service agencies. Foster families, who care for children temporarily, are also examined for qualifications.  But any pair of idiots can make a baby. At least once in your life, you may have muttered to yourself that somebody ought to require licensing before horrible people are allowed to have children.
    Some parents mistreat their children in ways the rest of us could not even imagine.  Those parents were probably mistreated themselves, and their children will probably grow up to mistreat the next generation of children, and we call that the cycle of abuse.  

  • Spaceport may head elsewhere

    The New Mexico Legislature’s failure, once again, to expand liability protection for the space industry may send our $200 million Spaceport investment down the drain. Trial lawyers again were the major culprit.
    The Spaceport’s major competitors, Florida, Texas, Virginia and Colorado, already have passed the necessary legislation. New Mexico passed limited legislation in 2010, holding harmless spaceflight operators from lawsuits in case of accidents.