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Today's Opinions

  • PNM is greenwashing their plan for more coal and nuclear

    I miss the days of truth in advertising. It is amazing to me that PNM gets away with the outrageous claims it makes in its full-scale PR assault on the good people of New Mexico.
    Every time we at Positive Energy Solar see a PNM advertisement these days, it is full of half-truths and exaggerated statistics. 
    “More Sol, Less Coal” is PNM’s latest spin in their “green” campaign, but what it isn’t telling you is that PNM is, in fact, adding more coal and barely scratching the surface in its adoption of “Sol.”
    Here is the truth: it is proposing to bring more coal, nuclear and natural gas into the mix at a cost to ratepayers of $66 million annually. This cost does not include any future carbon or coal regulations that might be incurred, nor does it factor future rises in fossil fuel costs.
    PNM’s claim in the ad that it will have cumulatively invested more than $270 million in solar by the end of 2015 is true, but solar only accounts for a measly 2 percent of the whole. This is a tiny fraction of what PNM could be harnessing, in a state that is recognized as the second-best state in the nation for solar power.

  • Creating jobs in N.M. will be tougher, more competitive

    Process is as important as product in the deliberations of the Jobs Council, a legislative interim committee.
    By mutual consent, council members — Democrat and Republican, business and labor — focused on where they agreed and set aside questions like right-to-work that would bog them down in debate. Their 13-point package shows they achieved a surprising level of consensus.
    Equally important, the council developed a yardstick for measuring all those proposals pitched as economic development. During the session, many such bills will be introduced, and most of them would produce a negligible number of jobs.
    So let’s have a round of applause for council members for doing the hard work and acknowledge that it is hard to get beyond platitudes and pie in the sky to examine actual numbers: How many people will you have in your county in 10 years? How many jobs will you need? What kinds of jobs? In what industries?
    The members summarized the obstacles that keep each community from creating jobs.
    How many more jobs will the community lose by not fixing that obstacle? For example, if Carlsbad and Hobbs need housing before employers can hire more people, why aren’t builders flocking to these communities? Are towns losing opportunities because they lack bandwidth or the workforce isn’t prepared?

  • Police officers authority and accountability

    America is not a police state. This is not a country in which the arm of justice is empowered to pursue arbitrary and selfish goals.
    Instead, America is a land of laws that restrict harm, damage, selfishness and the arbitrary use of force by police, as well as citizens. Power in America is not absolute because it is restricted by law. Yes, the arm of the law is long, but in very predictable ways.
    In particular, the exercise of power in America is properly limited by accountability. In each and every one of my own roles, I have both designated authority and defined accountability.
    When the system works properly, the accountability increases the likelihood that I will use my authority to strengthen the good of society and limit any arbitrary or selfish exercise of power that harms others.
    In my role as father, I was expected to exert my authority in the training and education of my boys, increasing the likelihood that they would become contributing members of society. I was accountable to local authorities who had the responsibility to ensure that my parenting did not become neglectful or abusive.

  • Pros and cons of reverse mortgages

    Over the last decade, reverse mortgages have been marketed as an easy way for seniors to cash in their home equity to pay for living expenses. However, many have learned that improper use of the product — such as pulling all their cash out at one time to pay bills — has led to significant financial problems later, including foreclosure.
    In actuality, there are some cases where reverse mortgages can be helpful to borrowers. However, it is imperative to do extensive research on these products before you sign.
    Reverse mortgages are special kinds of home loans that let borrowers convert some of their home equity into cash. They come in three varieties: single-purpose reverse mortgages, Home Equity Conversion Mortgages (HECMs) and proprietary reverse mortgages.
    Who can apply? Homeowners can apply for a reverse mortgage if they are at least 62 years old, own their home outright or have a low mortgage balance that can be paid off with the proceeds of the reverse loan. Qualifying homeowners also must have no delinquent federal debt, the financial resources to pay for upkeep, taxes and insurance and live in the home during the life of the loan.

  • As state after state legalizes marijuana, will New Mexico join in?

    Whether as a slowly rising tide or flash flood, marijuana reform is on its way to New Mexico. The question is, who will benefit economically from what’s shaping up to be the fastest-growing industry of this decade?
    Since New Mexico became the first state to license and regulate the production and distribution of medical marijuana in 2007, 23 other states have followed our lead. Now Colorado, Oregon, Washington and Alaska have legalized recreational use. The District of Columbia has approved legalization, and unless Congress blocks it, President Barack Obama will soon be able to reunite his Hawaii choom gang for a smoke in the Rose Garden. (Hard to guess how the Secret Service would handle that, since pot remains illegal on federal property.)
    If he chooses to use the “pen and phone” he’s been brandishing lately in the cause of drug law reform, the president could drop marijuana from the fed’s list of controlled substances, a move that would favorably impact more Americans than his unilateral action on immigration. That would open the floodgates for similar reforms nationwide.
    Arizona legislators will weigh a legalization bill in the session opening this month, although it’s unlikely to make it to a floor vote this year.

  • Walmart and the myth of free market

    As the Legislature debates the two related issues of right to work and minimum wage, we’re probably going to hear about theories like free markets and free choice. So let’s get real.
    Some things are still traded in completely free markets, I suppose, but I would hesitate to name one nationally marketed product that is not somehow affected (for better or worse) by subsidies, tax breaks, or other factors that have nothing to do with consumer choice. (If you find one, please write to me!)  
    We are all subsidizing Walmart. If you don’t shop there, you are subsidizing the purchases of people who do.  
    Americans for Tax Fairness issued a report in April 2014 called “Walmart on Tax Day:  How Taxpayers Subsidize America’s Biggest Employer and Richest Family.”
    In this report, a state-by-state analysis shows the estimated number of Walmart employees in New Mexico as 14,322. The estimated public assistance cost for those New Mexico employees is $63.2 million. The estimated yearly total of tax breaks and subsidies to the Walmart stores in New Mexico, benefitting the company’s owners and stockholders, is $73.7 million. Those two figures add up to $136.9 million — money either not collected in taxes or paid out in public assistance to workers.  

  • Congress and Obama’s executive order allow firms to invite guest workers

    Many Americans are upset by the decision of President Barack Obama to issue an executive order to reform immigration policy. The executive order effectively grants undocumented immigrants the legal right to remain in the United States if they have been here five years and are parents, children, or spouses of citizens or of legal residents. The president says that he did this because Congress has not passed an immigration reform bill.
    Obama’s impatience with Congress on immigration reform is understandable. Government has allowed millions of immigrants to remain in the United States even though they are violating the law by being here. Since it costs about $23,000 to deport an undocumented immigrant, it would be fiscally irresponsible to try to deport a significant percentage of them. Thus, we need to reform immigration policy so that we have a law that we can afford to enforce. Although Obama may have gone beyond his authority as president, his action serves to highlight the urgency of Congress acting to reform immigration policy.

  • Is Governor Martinez a corporate puppet?

    The information in a Jan. 9 report, “Martinez throws support behind right-to-work,” in the business section of the Albuquerque Journal reinforces the claim that Gov. Susana Martinez is just another Republican agent working for big business.
    As usual, the governor proclaims that she is working for the people. “It is fundamentally wrong to require membership (in a union) in order to get a job or take money from the paychecks of our workers by force to support a special interest group that they do not want to be a part of.”
    But where was she speaking and why?
    Martinez was appearing “before about 500 business leaders and legislators at a Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce luncheon.”
    It is a little hypocritical and suspect to claim you are supporting labor rights when you are speaking before a special interest business group that would benefit the most from abolishing unions altogether.
    Hmm. Do you really think the governor is looking out for workers, or is she trying to pay back big businesses for their financial support and troll for more cash to fuel her political ambitions?
    There are several inconvenient truths about right-to-work (RTW) laws.