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Today's Opinions

  • Fix issues before legalizing pot

     

    Good thing the Legislature didn’t pass that marijuana proposal.

    The proposal, introduced in the 2014 session, was a constitutional amendment to legalize marijuana, which would have been submitted to the voters in the upcoming election. 

    The reasons to legalize marijuana are compelling: removing power from criminal cartels, sparing young people the stigma of criminal records and simply facing the reality that pot is here to stay.

    But New Mexico is not ready.

  • Nation’s greatest number of artists, writers, performers found in Santa Fe

     

    Someone inside the administration gets the notion that life and economics are complicated and understanding might come from a thorough, if expensive, look at what is and is not happening. The result is a new report from the Department of Cultural Affairs, “Building on the Past, Facing the Future: Renewing the Creative Economy of New Mexico.” 

    Summarizing the Cultural Affairs report will take at least one more column. Before starting, a much smaller scale summary deserves applause. The summer issue of “New Mexico Earth Matters,” the newsletter of the Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources, reviews the role of geology in the state’s future. Topics include water, energy, mining, geologic hazards and induced seismicity.

  • Counting down to infinity

    As a teacher of mathematics, it always bothers me how little comprehension there seems to be with big numbers. Perhaps the blame lies in evolution’s decision to accommodate us with only 10 fingers.
    The worst victim of math is our National Debt, which now stands at more than $17.6 trillion. Now, the problem here is the use of the word “trillion.” It makes it sounds so well understood and sensible.
    Maybe we should change the word. Would saying that the National Debt is 17.6 wowza-hollaring-gazillion dollars make it sound more intimidating?
    But really, how big is the debt?
    One figure used to scare people (rightfully so) is $56,300, the amount of debt owned by every man, woman and child in our nation. But this still doesn’t seem to convey the actual size here. We need a more geometric perspective.
    Consider the border fencing being built along the U.S.-Mexico border. The average cost per mile of fencing is $3,900,000 (someone out there is getting very rich). Even at that ridiculously high cost, with more than 17 trillion dollars to spend, we could build fencing to circumscribe the entire perimeter of the Continental United States, not just once by 415 times.

  • Community bonded to find lost dog

    As many of you know, our boxer, LouLee, was lost on a hike in Los Alamos on the Cabra Loop Trail while we were away on our summer vacation. We were so thankful for our family and friends who searched tirelessly for her.
    We were also touched by the flood of immediate support from the entire community! We were amazed at how many of you, including so many that don’t even know us, were so willing to help out.
    LouLee miraculously showed up at my mother and father’s backdoor two weeks after disappearing. We wish all who helped could have been at our home to see the happiest 4 and 11 year old boys in the world when we got the call early that morning!
    Los Alamosans are the best! It’s not just anywhere that people would have pulled together that strongly for one little dog. We have always loved our hometown so much and now we love you even more. Thank you!
    Audra Epperson Morrison
    and Jim Morrison
    Los Alamos

  • Bringing prosperity to New Mexico

     Ed Birnbaum has a lot to say about the economic policies I discussed in my recent column. Specifically, Birnbaum claims that “Right to Work” laws are “anti-union.” Indeed, unions worked very hard to obtain “collective bargaining” meaning that unions have special privilege to represent all workers in a given workplace, even if some workers don’t wish to be a part of the union.
    In that sense, “Right to Work” certainly favors the right of free association of the individual worker at the expense of the unions.
    And, while Birnbaum is by no means the first person to attack the Rio Grande Foundation’s economic policy ideas, the fact is that New Mexico is desperately in need of private sector economic growth. “Right to Work” is one proven method of jump-starting the private sector economy.
    Over the past year, for example, eight of the top 10 states in terms of GDP growth are “Right to Work;” this, despite the fact that only 24 states have such laws on the books.
    Rio Grande Foundation does have a perspective. We believe in the free market. Nonetheless, we are happy to debate and discuss other plans for bringing prosperity to New Mexico. To date, we’ve seen more critics than ideas.
    Paul J. Gessing
    president, Rio Grande Foundation  

  • Business owners can learn to get their groove back

    Life for a business owner is exhilarating and dynamic, especially in the beginning, as the plan is set in motion and a product or service begins its path to market. The unpredictability of this journey is part of the reason it’s so stimulating to start and build a business, but maintaining that level of excitement and drive can be challenging when the business’s evolution doesn’t unfold according to plan.
    When initial funding from family or an investor runs out before benchmarks are met, a startup owner can worry about her ability to repay investors and stay on track. Even businesses that reach the second stage of maturity can stumble — say, when a large account goes to a competitor, or a product doesn’t find traction.
    No matter where the business is in its life cycle, the owner has a lot at stake, as do his investors and employees. To keep his head clear, the business owner has to be motivated by something other than fear of failure.
    Dangerous doldrums
    A business owner who loses her passion for what she does will have trouble putting in the time and energy to start or sustain a company — especially when it’s just getting off the ground and 16-hour days are typical.

  • Startup accelerator welcomes applicants

    New Mexico is home to the first United States startup accelerator aimed at entrepreneurs in creative industries. That Albuquerque-based business, Creative-Startups, is accepting applications through the end of the month for its inaugural class of startup candidates.
    The new accelerator aims to bring business sensibilities and savvy into fields dominated by “creatives,” including the fields of advertising, architecture, crafts, design, film, music, the performing arts, photography, publishing, game and app creation, television and radio.
    Taken as a whole, these sectors of the economy are among the most vibrant, judging by a 2013 United Nations report, which found that global trade in creative fields grew at an average rate of 8.8 percent each year between 2002 and 2011 and that the annual growth rate of creative exports from developing countries in that period was12.1 percent.
    Until now, few resources existed for startups in these professions to get the mentorship they need to start and sustain commercial enterprises based on creative products or services.

  • Pet Talk: Minutes in a hot car can do Fido harm

    If we find the scorching summer temperatures unbearable outside of our cars, imagine how our furry friends feel when trapped inside. Dog fatalities from extreme heat in cars are avoidable and all-too common.
    Although leaving your pet in the car while you run a few errands may seem harmless, dogs can suffer from heatstroke in a matter of minutes, even if parked in the shade with the windows cracked.
    “One study in the Journal of Pediatrics showed that cars parked in the sun showed an average of 40 degrees increase in internal temperature,” said Dr. James Barr, assistant professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. “This means, in 100 degree temperature, the car could reach 140 degrees.”
    Although rolling the car windows down may seem like a workable solution, this is not the case, even if you only plan to leave Fido in the car for a short period of time. Exposure to extreme heat for less than 20 minutes can still cause internal damage and be extremely harmful in the long run.
    “That same study in the Journal of Pediatrics showed that the rate of temperature rise was slower if the car window was rolled down, but still remarkably dangerous and reached the same levels after 60 minutes,” Barr said. “So just rolling the window down is not sufficient.”