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Today's Opinions

  • Letters to the editor 6-9-15

     More opposition
    for plastic bag ban

    I read the guest columnist column on plastic bags, and I find it difficult to reply to nearly a yard of column inches in 250 words. I had no particular opinion one way or the other until I heard the proponents. The complete absence of content in their statements drove me to search for information and, eventually, as a result, I decided to oppose the proposal on factual grounds.
    The guest columnist article was, as usual for those supporting the proposal against plastic bags, very emotional and totally devoid of facts, or data. Mr. Gonzales calls the proposal a “green initiative” and advocates the use of “greener products.”
    In most places, such as Santa Fe, paper is used as a replacement for plastic. Unfortunately, there is a rather substantial amount of data identifying the use of paper as one of the most polluting activities on the planet. Plastic bags are far less polluting than paper bags at all stages in their life, production, shipping, use and disposal.
    The Sierra Club, whose members seem to be the most avid proponents of the bag ban proposals appears only to claim that bags produce litter, which can harm animals. No one has claimed that this is a problem in Los Alamos.

  • New Mexico has no beginning, leads in overpass painting

    We just completed our Great American Road Trip. Remember, “See the USA in your Chevrolet.” That was us — 5,900 miles and 26 days — but in a Toyota and including Canada. Close enough.
     Such a trip offers opportunity to think about New Mexico and to learn. Trip details would bore. A few observations are pertinent.
    Painted overpasses are this column’s proxy for misguided uses of tax money. Around 20 percent of federal gas tax revenue goes for non-highway uses from light rail to bike lanes, says Mac Zimmerman, policy director for Americans for Prosperity, a conservative political advocacy group. Non-highway uses include painting overpasses, I presume.
    Digression: Unmentioned everywhere, so far as I know, is that bicyclists have no equivalent to gas taxes. Nor, I suspect, is there a bicycle drivers license. If gas taxes are a user fee of sorts, then cyclists are quite literally “free riders.”
    A couple of days passed before I started paying real attention to overpasses.
    This was in spite of seeing the all-time champion ugly painted overpass our first day. It was 10 miles west of Santa Rosa, pink and awful. A pink ribbon was painted at one side, perhaps indicating cancer “awareness.” The result of the paint was no less ugly for the good intentions.

  • Manhattan Project era spans much

    The question is not whether history will be debated, but how.
    The key is telling how times affect deeds. If the past fades out, debate decays to mere sound and fury.
    The Manhattan Project National Historical Park is in the offing. To gain perspective, the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Park Service came to town last week. The agencies sought ways to display history that changed history, its actual sites, accurate accounts of details, a breadth of aspects and human interest.
    The largest gathering in their visit was on the wide lawn at Fuller Lodge last Tuesday. Discussing this column’s themes with the National Park Service found out their thoughts run parallel.
    As we did in 2010, our citizens group proposed telling environmental history. The idea has two parts, events and context:
    1) The park should relate the environmental history of nuclear weapons work.
    2) This history should be set in the context of the nation’s environmental history for the same period.
    In the 1940s, there were few laws, just common practices. The Manhattan Project — at Los Alamos, Oak Ridge, Tennessee and Hanford, Washington — followed the waste-handling practices of the time.
    On this point, atomic scientists thought like industrial engineers.

  • Fight back against Medicare fraud

    The owner of a Houston area ambulance company receives a 97-month prison sentence for submitting $2.4 million in claims to Medicare for services that weren’t necessary and, in some cases, never even provided.
    Two unlicensed medical school graduates each get 72 months behind bars for acting as physicians in a Dallas area house call practice and billing Medicare $2.7 million for home visits and diagnostic tests never performed.
    A Houston man receives an 87-month prison term for recruiting Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, using their personal health information and billing the government for motorized wheelchairs never delivered.
    For too long, the crooks who were behind health care fraud were often one step ahead of law enforcement.
    But that’s finally changing, thanks to better coordination among federal agencies and the introduction of cutting-edge technology, more criminals are being brought to justice.
    The Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Justice now have a task force that targets areas with suspicious Medicare billings.
    The “HEAT Team” crime investigators sift through claims data to identify billing patterns that suggest someone has run afoul of the law.

  • Letters to the Editor 6-5-15

    Voter mandates and pitchforks

    On D-Day, General Dwight D. Eisenhower did not tell his troops that we were going to defeat the National Socialists so that we could cooperate with them. The order Eisenhower gave was to rid the Earth of Adolf Hitler, his band of murderous thugs and everything that they stood for.
    In the November elections, America gave the Republicans a mandate to stop President Barack Obama and the Democrats from wreaking this country and we expect that this carnage be stopped and reversed.
    Republicans now say that they want to cooperate with Obama so that he will move to the middle. Americans don’t want to hear this nonsense because Obama is a leftist who hates our Constitution and deliberately circumvents it.
    Much to our chagrin, GOP House Speaker Boehner and all but 67 House Republicans joined Obama and the Democrats to repeal Section 716 in the Omnibus spending bill. Section 716 was included to prevent government bailout of Wall Street trading losses in speculative credit swap derivatives. Obama knew the contempt voters have for Wall Street bailouts when he told bankers that he was the only thing between them and the pitchforks.

    Robert A. Dahlquist
    Orange, California

  • Who stole my kidney?

    I feel cheated. A friend posted a link on Facebook saying that if I shared the post, Bill Gates would send me $5,000.
     And I never got the money!  Not one cent!
     It›s bad enough that I never got my share of the $14 billion that the Nigerian Governor of Consumer Affairs took out of the country. I was depending on that for my retirement.
    Long before the Internet, urban legends proliferated with the speed of mildew in wet laundry in New Jersey.
    The earliest memory I have of mysterious tales of the unknown was the “amazing associations” made between the assassinations of President Abraham Lincoln and President John F. Kennedy.
    Both were elected to Congress in ‘46.  Both were shot on a Friday. Lincoln was shot in the Ford Theater. Kennedy was shot riding in a Ford Lincoln.
    Clearly, this is no coincidence. It’s a government conspiracy!
    Personally, I think Kennedy was a clone, replaced after his alien abduction. He’s now a Borg and helping Plutonians plan their conquest of Earth.
    OK, if it’s printed, it must be true?
    Ringo Starr admitted that the Beatles did in fact “bury Paul” and that a twin took his place. I’ve also read that this was predicted by Nostradamus.

  • Plastic bags destroying environment

    What the Environmental Sustainability Board is trying to do with this plastic bag ban (green initiative) is to do the right thing as an entity for the collective good of the people.
    This means to reduce, reuse and recycle through the use of greener products, will reduce the amount of waste we make — and impact we have on the environment — and is necessary for a better tomorrow for Los Alamos and the world.
    But when they do this they seek to have community involvement and they got quite what they did not expect with this community.
    We have “fouls” being called. We’ve got people holding to the idea of “consumer choice,” “convenience” and “ease of use.” These are all the labels for not wanting to change and do the right thing.
    Consumerism is eating planet Earth of house and home. There’s a lot of statistics out there...you know about how 80 percent of the nation’s consumptive water use is consumed, 45 percent of all land in the U.S. is used for agriculture, and so on.
    American consumerism could be labeled glutinous. A lack of willingness to use cloth grocery sacks instead of plastic bags could be labeled as laziness. Self-justification could be labeled as “consumer choice” in the name of “not doing the right thing.”

  • Courts add confusion to confusing system

    The workers’ compensation system, we sometimes observe, is a patchwork of contradictory and inconsistent rules that are hard to understand and even harder to live with.
    Our courts don’t make this any easier.
    We were reminded of this recently at the annual conference of the New Mexico Workers’ Compensation Association, where we heard several recitations of the weirdness of workers’ compensation case law.
    One presentation, by attorneys Jim Rawley and Kelly Genova, focused narrowly on issues related to return to work.
    When a worker is recovered from an injury, something is supposed to happen: he goes back to his old job, or he chooses not to go back to the job, or because of his injury he can no longer do the job, or a hundred other possibilities.
    Workers’ compensation is a statutorily micromanaged system. The law is supposed to provide explicit guidance about who is obligated to do what for whom. But reality plays tricks.
    Do you know the TV show, “What Would You Do?” This column is like that game. Read and guess.