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Today's Opinions

  • ‘Progressive’ agenda outlined in new book

    The left has a mythical attachment to raiding the Permanent Fund for money to spend on education.
    My rough measure is the volume of applause after every mention of the idea at a recent gathering in Albuquerque to debut the new book, “New Mexico 2050,” edited by Fred Harris, a former Oklahoma Senator and longtime Corrales resident.
    The applause came from what appeared to be a large proportion of the 250 or so people in the audience vigorously cheering the permanent fund raid and other liberal shibboleths. The audience included several presumed candidates for governor, Harris said, the unstated further presumption being that the candidates were Democrats.
    I noticed only Alan Webber of Santa Fe, a result of reading his name badge.
    Bald heads and gray hair were everywhere.
    Controlling audience speechifying became a bonus task for Harris as moderator. The McCune Foundation provided money “to assist with project expenses,” he said. A McCune employee, Henry Rael, was a contributor.
    The book’s economic summary seems comprehensive, even including four pages on labor force participation, a favorite topic in this column that is commonly ignored by people discussing the state economy.

  • Did Hillary ever take Econ 101?

    Today’s version of “A chicken in every pot” is Hillary Clinton’s proposed plan to “make college affordable and available to every American.”
    This is political catnip, pure and simple. And it is a more delusory form of catnip than Herbert Hoover’s “chicken,” for while everybody needs enough to eat, not everybody needs to go to college.
    There is today an oversupply of college degrees.
    A Federal Reserve study found that half of recent graduates were working in jobs that didn’t require a college degree or not employed at all. For Clinton to propose spending $350 billion to subsidize college attendance will exacerbate rather than reduce the glut of college-educated Americans.
    To propose such wastefulness when federal debt already exceeds $18 trillion is fiscally irresponsible and a slap at American taxpayers. It will also increase the number of graduates experiencing disillusionment when they realize the lack of market demand for their degrees.
    The increasingly overt socialistic nature of Clinton’s campaign theme is glaringly evident in her “New College Compact.”

  • Do ex-cons deserve a fresh start?

    Every now and then, you read a news story about an employee who went to a home to clean the carpet and later robbed the place.
    The perpetrator had a prison record.
    That is not only a trauma for the homeowner; it’s a serious problem for the business owner, who probably will be sued. The business owner, you’d think, has a duty to screen his employees and make sure he doesn’t expose customers to the risk of employees with a known criminal history.
    This poses a conflict with the “ban the box” movement.
    A standard practice on job application forms is to ask applicants whether they have ever been convicted of a felony. Check yes or no. The applicant who answers “yes” likely won’t be hired, or even get a second look.
    Advocates, such as the National Employment Law Project (NELP, nelp.org), want to eliminate that box.
    The “ban the box” movement says ex-cons deserve a chance to start fresh. If society won’t let them earn an honest living, the argument goes, they may have no choice but to resume criminal behavior.
    It’s in society’s interest to help them get back on their feet — but it’s loaded with obstacles.

  • Scapegoating immigrants is not the answer

    About three years ago, my dad was driving the truck he uses for his landscaping business in Phoenix when he was pulled over. Two patrol cars cornered him for making a wide right turn.
    Yes, you read that right: Multiple police officers went out of their way to stop my dad for supposedly making a right turn too wide.
    The traffic cops grilled my dad and his co-worker about their immigration status. They let my dad, a Mexican immigrant and U.S. citizen, go on his way without even issuing a warning. Then they arrested his coworker, who happened to be an undocumented immigrant.
    What seemed like a normal drive to work turned into a nightmare.
    Traffic stops that often begin with this kind of racial profiling, along with parking tickets and other minor offenses, have led to two-thirds of the record 2 million deportations during the Obama administration. These daily expulsions have instilled a culture of pain and fear among all our nation’s immigrant communities.
    When some of those communities urged their local governments to do something about it, about 300 cities responded by becoming something called a “sanctuary city.”
    Maybe you’ve heard about these places, but don’t know what a sanctuary city is.

  • Legacy mines, not the EPA, are the root of Animas spill

    Nobody who saw the Animas River will soon forget the sight of the orange waters flowing our way from the spill at an old Colorado gold mine.
    The odd color increased fears of what was now in those waters.
    I grew up with that color.
    Orange tailings spilling from old shafts in Colorado’s mountains remind us of the state’s colorful, boomtown past. Now we call them “legacy” sites, a word that’s all too familiar in New Mexico. Our legacy mines are mostly uranium, but the mess, the issues and the costs are the same.
    As often happens, the reporting by small, local media has been the best — and in this case, the least hysterical.
    Samantha Wright, of southwestern Colorado’s online news site San Juan Independent (sjindependent.org), wrote that Cement Creek, an Animas tributary and first recipient of the Gold King Mine’s three million gallon spill, runs orange every spring.
    The Gold King is one of many mines honeycombing those mountains. Colorado has 22,000 abandoned mines because back then, there were no environmental laws. Some of the worst are around Silverton.

  • EPA to start regulating water in your own backyard

    Unless a federal judge issues a preliminary injunction, the definition of the “Waters of the U.S.” will change, as of today — giving the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the authority to regulate the water in your backyard. Even, according to West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, “any area where agencies believe water may flow once every 100 years.”
    Thirty-one states, in four districts, have filed motions with the federal courts to block the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) from beginning to enforce the new “Waters of the U.S.” rule (WOTUS), which represents a new interpretation of the Clean Water Act (CWA).
    WOTUS was published in the Federal Register on June 29 and will become effective today.
    The CWA used to apply to “navigable waters,” which now, as Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton recently said, “include almost any piece of land that gets wet and puddles.”

  • Getting your home ready to sell

    As the economy improves, today’s sellers are facing a very different environment than they were before the housing market stumbled in 2006.
    Today’s housing market features new procedures and standards, not the least of which are continuing borrowing hurdles for prospective buyers. If you are thinking about a home sale in the coming months, it pays to do a thorough overview of your personal finances and local real estate environment before you put up the “for sale” sign.
    Here are some general issues to consider:
    Make sure you’re not underwater. You may want to buy a new home, but can you afford to sell? The term “underwater” refers to the amount of money a seller owes on a house in excess of final sales proceeds. If what you owe on the home — including all selling costs due at closing — exceeds the agreed-upon sale price, then you will have to pay the difference out of pocket. If you’re not in a situation where you absolutely have to sell now, you may want to wait until your financial circumstances and the real estate market improves.
    Evaluate your finances. Before you sell, make sure you are ready to buy or rent. Making sure all three of your credit reports are accurate is an important part of that process.

  • How about saving the endangered hunter?

    The state Game Commission meets Aug. 27 to consider trapping cougars, hunting bears and saving wolves.
    Not on the agenda is another endangered species: the New Mexico Hunter.
    According to U.S. Fish and Wildlife, the number of hunters nationwide declined slightly over the 20 years from1991-2011, even as total population rose by nearly a quarter.
    Here in New Mexico, the number of hunting licenses issued fell about 9 percent between 2004 and 2013.
    That may be a reflection of changing demographics. As the Baby Boom enters our creaky and overweight “Golden Years,” more and more of us are reluctant to trade the comforts of the man-cave and a warm bed for the pleasure of tramping the mountains on a frosty fall morning.
    Another factor may be increasing urbanization, with more of us living in the city rather than in the small town farm-and-ranch country where hunting is traditional.
    Whatever the cause, a decline in hunting participation is bad news both for the state’s economy and the wildlife we share the land with.
    New Mexico’s 87,000 hunters spent more than $265 million on their sport in 2013 and contributed another $61 million to the state’s economy in labor, income and taxes, according to Game and Fish.