.....Advertisement.....
.....Advertisement.....

Today's Opinions

  • Why can’t private sectors handle mail delivery

    In a country where people extol the virtues of free enterprise, why is the U.S. government involved in the delivery of mail? After all, it would be difficult to find a better example of a violation of the principles of free enterprise than the U.S. Postal Service.
    The Postal Service is a monopoly. That means that the law expressly prohibits anyone in the private sector from competing against the government in the delivery of first-class mail. If some private firm attempts to do so, the Justice Department immediately secures an injunction from a federal judge enjoining the firm from continuing to compete. If the firm persists, the judge jails the head of the firm until he agrees to cease and desist with his competition.
    Why should a country that prides itself on the virtues of free enterprise have a massive monopoly on mail delivery? Why not free enterprise in mail delivery?
     One option would be to simply repeal the postal monopoly. That would put the Postal Service in the same position as everyone else — as a competitor among many private firms that would be seeking people’s business.

  • Business volunteers give eighth graders incentive to graduate

    The earnings and opportunities gap that separates high school dropouts and graduates is wide, and it’s widening all the time. Yet 40 percent of New Mexico’s public school students quit their formal education before earning a diploma that can improve their options over a lifetime.
    Those dismal statistics motivated David Sidebottom, a branch manager of Century Bank, to introduce the Choices education program to Santa Fe schools six years ago. Using a curriculum designed by the nonprofit Choices Education Group, Sidebottom and other volunteers visit eighth-graders for two hour-long workshops that illustrate in tangible, age-appropriate terms the consequences of quitting school prematurely.  
    They don’t lecture, but rather engage the young teens in role-playing activities.
    In one, a student receives “play” money that represents his wages for a job that doesn’t require a high school diploma. Another classmate pretending to be a high school graduate gets more cash, while the best payout goes to the student playing the college graduate. After students surrender money for rent, food and other essentials, it’s obvious who has money left over for entertainment and recreation.

  • Transparency, accountability and the billions in unspent public funds

    Recently, the state auditor’s Government Accountability Office (GAO) released some staggering figures with respect to $4.5 billion of tax dollars sitting in more than 700 state accounts.
    As a result, many New Mexicans are rightly asking serious questions about whether this money is being put to work to meet the many needs of our state.
    The report, which is a compilation of the most recently available audited financial statements of state agencies (fiscal year 2014 in most cases) is the first in a series of reports the auditor’s office will be releasing to shine a light on fund balances building up in government.
    Moving forward, the GAO will also report on schools, municipalities and counties.
    This effort is aimed at enhancing transparency and accountability for the use of public monies that have already been allocated by the Legislature in years past for a particular use. As our state’s only independent office responsible directly to the voters for oversight of public dollars, the state auditor plans to share this information to start a public conversation about the most efficient and effective use of our tax dollars.
    In the years to come, these reports are intended to serve as a resource for the public, the governor and policymakers to make informed decisions.

  • The eyes have it, the teeth don’t

    How are legislators supposed to decide on the relative competencies of healthcare practitioners?
    In these matters, we are asking lawmakers to make a tough decision on topics outside their expertise. In some cases, it’s not the public that’s asking, but the practitioners of healthcare professions.
    The dental therapist bill came back this year, but did not have enough — pardon the pun — teeth.
    The bill was widely publicized and debated in 2014. It attempted to create a new mid-level category of dental practitioner to provide care in underserved rural communities, based on a model that has been successful in other states. Last year, the bill stopped in a Senate committee. This year, the House version of the bill (HB 349, sponsored by Rep. Dennis Roch, R-Logan), passed the House and went no further.
    Its companion Senate bill, sponsored by Sen. Benny Shendo Jr., D-Jemez Pueblo, stalled in committee.
    Though the details are technical, the argument is simple. Small rural communities need dental services, which the state’s dentists are not providing, but dentists are concerned about competency and training.
    As a dentist told me, you never know when a simple procedure like an extraction is going to be complicated until you do it and see what’s underneath.

  • Debt and the deceased: How should spouses, heirs proceed?

    If your loved one died leaving significant debt behind, would you know what to do?
    It’s a worrisome question for everyone. Young or old, based on particular debt circumstances or geographic location, death with debt can provide significant problems for surviving family members.
    Depending on state law and the specific credit relationships involved, they might be shocked to learn that they could be legally liable for a deceased relative’s outstanding debt — anything from unpaid mortgage balances and medical debt to unpaid credit card balances.
    Spouses who may share any kind of debt jointly, particularly credit cards in dual name, could face greater challenges. It also may spell problems for co-signers of any kind of loan.
    As with all financial planning, the best time to act is before an issue arises. Watching any family deal with extensive debt problems after a spouse or relative passes on illustrates the need for financial transparency while all parties are alive. No matter how difficult a family member’s credit circumstances are, spouses and adult children should face those circumstances while options are available to deal with any problems.

  • Be thankful Legislature is not Congress

    It’s appropriate that our state capitol is round because during the legislative session, it’s a pressure cooker.
    News from Santa Fe about the session’s end is about the blow-ups between the House and Senate, the Senate and the governor, House Republicans and House Democrats. True, unfortunately.
    But consider that on the night before the final day, House Speaker Don Tripp kept his members at their oars from early evening until 2:45 a.m.
    The House went into session the next day at 8 a.m., got an incendiary capital outlay bill at 8:30 a.m. and launched into debate.
    Mind you, this is after days of late nights and marathon committee hearings and floor sessions. You could hear it in their tired, raspy voices and see it in memory lapses and punchy responses — like college students who’d pulled too many all-nighters.
    Only they don’t have the stamina of college students. Some of our elderly legislators simply didn’t attend night meetings and missed even day meetings.
    Is this any way to make laws? Or sausage?
    Next, consider the sea change in the House with its first Republican majority.

  • Fixing roads is better plan than bicyclists' underpass

    The expanse of New Mexico means it is miles and miles from here to there.
    From Farmington to Hobbs, it is 497 miles. Make the ends of the trip be Shiprock and Jal means adding 67 miles. The trek takes some time.
    Bike-walk cultists aside, traveling is done using cars and trucks. A very few fly in private planes or on the heavily subsidized local service airlines. One or two ride horses.
    Much traveling is done just to cross the state. The east-west interstates — 10 and 40 — aren’t owned by trucks. It only seems that way.
    The cars, trucks and their occupants travel on roads. A modestly-encouraging happening of the recent legislative session is that our roads’ terrible and long-ignored financial condition has emerged in public discussion.
    This is the first step to eventually doing something.
    We begin with a digression and reminder: The term “road money” means much more than roads for vehicles.
    At a recent neighborhood association meeting, my representative on the Bernalillo County Commission, Maggie Hart Stebbins, lamented a place where bicyclists must cross a four-lane street by actually crossing on the street rather than having something specially built.
    The situation is dangerous, Hart Stebbins said.

  • We’re free to follow our passion thanks to farmers, ranchers

    In what categories can you count yourself among “the two percent?”
    I’ll waste this sentence so you can really ponder that question.
    Did agriculture spring to mind? If not, you’ll find this statistic surprising: Less than two percent of Americans are directly involved in production agriculture. In other words, 98 percent of us are disconnected from the farm and ranch in terms of time, physical distance, or both.
    Because we are disconnected from farms and ranches, we are dependent upon them for the things that only they can provide: food, fiber and more. If ever there’s a time to be aware of and appreciate that fact, it is now during National Agriculture Week.
    A century ago, most people produced their own food either entirely or in part — and that was because they had to. But leaps in technology opened upon new ways of tending to farm and ranch work, new ways of sharing knowledge about farming and ranching, new ways to market what they produced. What hasn’t changed is the passion that farmers, ranchers, and others in production agriculture bring to their work.