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Today's Opinions

  • 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.

  • N.M. businesses join national Manufacturing Day initiative

    Manufacturing Day is catching on in New Mexico, with more and more manufacturers lining up to represent the state in a national day of recognition for businesses that make products in America.
    Events are planned at more than a dozen facilities in nine New Mexico communities. Last year, the first time New Mexico participated, seven producers hosted events in three cities.
    New Mexico Manufacturing Extension Partnership — the primary sponsor of statewide events — is scheduling tours in Albuquerque and Rio Rancho, Hobbs, Silver City, Deming, Farmington, Las Cruces and from Santa Fe to Taos. Each region has a designated day to participate between Oct. 1 and Oct. 3, with kickoffs set for Oct. 1 in Hobbs and the Albuquerque metro area.
    Who’s on board?
    Nineteen businesses have committed to public or private tours, but many more are considering participation in this important event.

  • Time to open eyes to elder suicide

    Elder suicide looks us in the eye, thanks to columns written by Leslie Linthicum in the Albuquerque Journal.
    The facts: In the northeastern community of Roy, Geraldine Ray, 89, was found lying face down on her bed with cotton balls up her nose, plastic filling her mouth, and packing tape across her lips. The state Office of the Medical Investigator called it a homicide, despite two suicide notes in Ray’s own hand. The woman’s daughter was arrested for murder. Her family never believed that for a moment, neither did Linthicum, and science backed them up. Charges were dropped.
    OMI didn’t think a person could kill herself that way. They must never have met a willful woman. I come from a family of willful women, and you’d be surprised what they can do.
    I had just returned from eye-opening visits with elderly relatives out of state, so Linthicum’s column hit me in the heart.
    Cousin Betty (name changed), my role model, was gorgeous, successful in her job, known by everybody in her Roswell-sized town, married with two boys and managed the perfect home. She now has macular degeneration and can no longer drive, she’s diabetic, and she’s had one hip and both knees replaced, not entirely successfully, so she walks with a cane. Four months ago, her husband died.

  • Cost of keeping LA a green community

    Fourth of a series
    One of the major issues in this town is water: do we have enough to keep this a green community, at an affordable cost? Since I was elected to County Council two years ago, I have been gathering facts about water in Los Alamos. Much of this information is in the “2006 Long Range Water Supply Plan for Los Alamos County”, on the county website at losalamosnm.us/utilities/Documents/Reports/Long-RangePln_8-06_for%20Web%20posting.pdf.
    If we can agree on the facts and the uncertainties, I think the citizens of Los Alamos are likely to agree on good plans and policy regarding water. Here, I will discuss our water supply and demand, threats to our water supply, possible future water needs, and some ideas on responsible water policy for Los Alamos. I welcome any additional facts and thoughts on the subject.
    Responsible Water Plans and Policy

  • American intervention will only heighten already-present violence

    Nearly a century ago, after four bloody years of World War I, British colonialists created the state of Iraq, complete with their hand-picked monarch. Britain and France were authorized — or, more precisely, authorized themselves — to create states in the Arab world, despite the prior British promise of independence in return for the Arabs’ revolt against the Ottoman Turks, which helped the Allied powers defeat the Central powers. And so European countries drew lines in the sand without much regard for the societies they were constructing from disparate sectarian, tribal, and ethnic populations.
    Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations declared that former colonies of the defeated powers “are inhabited by peoples not yet able to stand by themselves under the strenuous conditions of the modern world.” These included the Arabs (and others) in Mesopotamia (Iraq) and the Levant (today’s Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Palestine/Israel). Because they were not ready for independence and self-government, the covenant stated, their “well-being and development” should be “entrusted to advanced nations who … can best undertake this responsibility.”