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Today's Opinions

  • Poor economy makes people leave N.M.

    The worst state economy in the nation is right here in New Mexico. Albuquerqueans are very good at divorce. People are leaving the state.
    These things go together.
    Having the worst state economy means tying Kentucky for the nation’s leading wage-job loss percentage between February 2013 and February 2014, according to the Labor Market Review, the newsletter of the state Department of Workforce Solutions released April 4, late in that day after potential readers had gone home. DWS buried the news —it’s an election year, after all — leaving it at the bottom (where else?) of a table on page 16.
    We lost 0.2 percent of our wage jobs, or 1,900, over the year. Virginia was the only other state losing jobs. The losses concentrated in Albuquerque, which reported 4,500 fewer jobs, a 1.2 percent drop.
    Maybe it was newly divorced people leaving town.
    Men’s Health magazine ranked divorce propensity in 100 cities. Albuquerque placed 99th, followed only by Charleston, W.Va. Joe Queenan, described as “a humorist” by the Wall Street Journal, which hosts his column, called the bottom 10 “blighted burgs.”

  • Supremes take another whack at campaign reforms

    “This deeply flawed Supreme Court decision continues down a path that equates money with speech and corporations with people.”
    Thus did New Mexico’s United States Sen. Martin Heinrich’s react to the high court’s McCutcheon v. FEC 5-4 decision earlier this month that pounded another nail in the coffin of this nation’s campaign finance reform laws.
    Taken in tandem with the court’s 2010 ruling Citizens United (also by a 5-4 decision), practically all significant laws passed in recent years calculated to rein in the billion dollar orgy of campaign money with which corporations and big moneyed interests contrive to buy and sell influence in Congress and state Houses across the land are kaput.
    As presently composed, five of the nine members of whom the Supreme Court consists are rigidly conservative, as that term is generally construed today. That same group of five justices is routinely activist, bent on interpreting the laws they are called upon to adjudicate in ways other than originally intended and sometimes even contrary to intentions.
    It is this predilection of the current court majority that Sen. Heinrich critiques when he decries the equating of money with speech and corporations with people.

  • Letters to the editor 04-13-14

     

    Regarding WIPP

    This letter is in response to the article “Watchdog Asks for WIPP Inquiry” on April 6. The print and electronic media and “watchdog groups” have made, as is often the case, a radiation/nuclear molehill into a mountain. 

    The only reasoned article that I have read or heard on WIPP appeared a few weeks ago in the Albuquerque Journal. It was entitled “Radiation Levels after WIPP Leak Negligible.” Robert Hayes, a Certified Health Physicist according to the byline, wrote it. I wish to quote one sentence from that article: “Using data posted on the website wipp.energy.gov, Mr. Hayes writes, “The largest potential dose was at the site boundary, where a maximum dose of around 3 mrem was possible if you stood by the air sampler for the full 15 hours.” 

  • Happy Passover and happy shopping

     

    Monday night begins the Jewish holiday of Passover, which commemorates the Exodus of the ancient Israelites from Egyptian slavery. Accompanied by friends, my family will be holding a celebratory dinner along with the ceremonial retelling of this story according to Jewish ritual, the Passover Seder. There are many themes in this ceremony, the precious value of personal freedom, religion as a source of strength during adversity, many others. And if you will bear with me, the value of shopping locally here in Los Alamos.

  • Pet Talk: Alternatives to debarking surgery

    Debarking surgery is quite the controversy in pet news today. Is it inhumane? Do the possible risks outweigh the perceived benefits? These are viable questions to ask when considering debarking surgery to control your dog’s chronic barking. However, with April being the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month, it is also important to recognize the numerous available non-surgical alternatives that are said to be safer and even more effective by veterinarians and trainers alike.
    As decipherable from the name, debarking surgery is the act of surgically disabling your dog from producing a loud, barking sound. “Although the procedure is called ‘debarking,’ it does not result in the inability for the dog to produce any sound at all,” said Dr. Kelley Thieman, a clinical associate professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. “Instead, the dog has a muffled quality to its bark, and in time could even regain the ability to bark.”  

  • The sky is the limit

    At the end of World War II, our nation was broke. The money owed by our government exceeded the nation’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product) by 20 percent. We literally owed more than we produced in an entire year.
     And yet times were good. The nation found itself in an era of prosperity, and the National Debt was a topic of rare discussion.
     You would think that enduring a debt of $259 billion would paralyze a rational thinker. But society is oddly capable of burying concerns like this along with the tens of millions killed, and moving forward with its focus on commerce and industry.
     If people had in fact been more conscious of the debt, they may not have actually minded. For you see, the nation was growing (both in population and in power) and the National Debt was shrinking.
     Well, for a few years anyway. From 1945-1948, the National Debt declined to $252 billion. Back then, people laughed when politicians boasted of the debt’s decline, noting that a 7 percent decrease was nothing to brag about. But today having the debt shrink by 7 percent would be earth shattering news.

  • Priorities regarding energy independence

    If the goal is “energy independence,” what issues should be a priority in America?
    Recently, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) sent out a “2014 Priority Issues Survey” which contained a section on energy.
    Section VII, asks: “Which of the following will help America achieve energy independence?” It offers five options that do little to move America toward energy independence — which isn’t even a realistic goal given the fungible nature of liquid fuels. Additionally, most of the choices given on the DCCC survey actually increase energy costs for all Americans — serving as a hidden tax — but hurt those on the lower end of the socio-economic scale the most. The proposals hurt the very people the party purports to champion.
    The survey asks respondents to “check all that apply.”
    • Raising gas mileage standards for all new cars and trucks
    If it were technologically possible to build a cost-effective truck, or SUV that had the size and safety Americans want and that got 54.5 mpg, that manufacturer would have the car-buying public beating a path to its door. Every car company would love to be the one to corner that market — but it is not easy, it probably won’t be possible, and it surely won’t be cheap.

  • Spend your tax refund wisely

    Last year the IRS doled out over 110 million income tax refunds averaging $2,803. Another way to look at it is that collectively, Americans overpaid their taxes by nearly $310 billion in 2012.
    Part of that is understandable: If you don’t have enough tax withheld throughout the year through payroll deductions or quarterly estimated tax payments, you’ll be hit with an underpayment penalty come April 15. But the flip side is that by over-withholding, you’re essentially giving the government an interest-free loan throughout the year.
    If you ordinarily receive large tax refunds, consider withholding less and instead putting the money to work for you, by either saving or investing a comparable amount throughout the year, or using it to pay down debt. Your goal should be to receive little or no refund.
    Ask your employer for a new W-4 form and recalculate your withholding allowance using the IRS’ Withholding Calculator (irs.gov).
    This is also a good idea whenever your pay or family situation changes significantly (e.g., pay increase, marriage, divorce, new child, etc.) IRS Publication 919 can guide you through the decision-making process.
    Meanwhile, if you do get a hefty refund this year, before blowing it all on something you really don’t need, consider these options: