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Today's Opinions

  • Old dogs can learn new tricks

    Whether you plan on getting a new puppy or just want Fido to finally nail the “sit” command, it is never too late to begin training your dog.
    Here are some tips for having a well-behaved pooch just in time for the holiday season.
    “The first few commands are usually basic obedience commands such as sit, down, stay, walking on leash and most importantly, to come when called,” said Elizabeth Bachle, a technician at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences pharmacy and an agility instructor at Puppy Love training. “These are a great foundation to training more complex behaviors and can keep your pet out of harm’s way.”
    New puppy owners often get caught up in the excitement of having a four-legged friend to play with and forget that training them early on is most effective.
    However, don’t believe the saying that “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” Even your loyal, more seasoned companions can improve on current techniques or learn new skills.

  • LA County Council doesn’t endorse tax on food

    LA County Council doesn’t endorse tax on food

  • Leave us alone! We can’t breathe!

    The last words out of the mouth of strangling victim Eric Garner are actually a metaphor for how libertarians feel about the entire welfare-warfare state under which modern-day Americans have been born and raised.
    Don’t his words express precisely how we libertarians feel? Leave us alone, we say to the state. Get out of our faces. Get out of our lives. You’re suffocating us. You’re killing us — literally, spiritually, financially and economically.
    Thomas Jefferson described this phenomenon in the Declaration of Independence: the king’s government was sending “swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.”
    There is hardly any part of our lives that government officials aren’t involved in. They just won’t leave us alone. Drug laws. Economic regulations. Income taxation. IRS audits. Asset forfeitures. Home raids. Secret surveillance. Draft registration. Permits and licenses. Minimum-wage laws. Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. Terrorist blowback from an interventionist foreign policy. Checkpoints. Perpetual crises and chaos.
    It never stops.
    The direct cause of Eric Garner’s death was obviously the chokehold that the cops put on his neck, which prevented him from breathing.

  • Make teachers happy

    I keep talking with public school teachers who are miserable. They’re all looking at their bank accounts trying to figure out when they can retire.
    The purpose of the school system is to educate students, not to make its employees happy. Students come first. But it’s hard to imagine that students are getting the best possible education when their teachers show up each morning feeling beaten and dispirited.
    They say it’s because of testing — too much testing, too little time to teach, testing results applied to their evaluations in ways that they say are unfair or illogical.
    Some complain about Common Core standards, but testing is still the primary theme.
    They are echoing a common complaint of unhappy employees. Employees are unhappy, it’s said, when they have no sense of control over their work, when they think things are being done wrong but they can’t do anything about it, when they don’t trust management and believe management won’t listen to them.
    That’s the classic formula, virtually guaranteed to produce low morale.

  • Reform or more of the same in Santa Fe?

    New Mexico’s Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez, arguably the most powerful elected Democrat in the state, recently laid out some of his views on the upcoming legislative session.
    He claimed to support “compromise,” but it is clear that what he really means is that he has no plans to support reforms that will boost New Mexico’s struggling private sector economy.
    Sanchez’s intransigence is not surprising given that he and his allies have controlled New Mexico’s Legislature for many decades and see the recent GOP takeover of the House as a temporary loosening of control as opposed to a decisive break. That big-government ideology, by the way, has driven New Mexico to the bottom of most good lists and the top of most bad ones.
    Sanchez, despite his rhetoric of compromise, has stated firmly that he opposes “right to work.” On the other hand, he supports a new $50 million “closing fund” designed to bring new businesses to our state.
    His positions are not surprising for two reasons. Despite both policies ostensibly being “pro-business,” right to work will cost zero tax dollars, reduces the fundraising power of a key special interest group, and has reams of studies showing that its effectiveness.

  • Continuation not vision

    If a vision for the state and the articulation of action for confronting our myriad deep structural problems appeared at the recent New Mexico Tax Research Institute legislative outlook conference, it slipped out the door faster than it entered.
    Ferreting out a vision will be further obstructed by the newest job performance report, which appeared three days after the TRI meeting.
    From November 2013 to November 2014, a seasonally-unadjusted 14,700 new wage jobs appeared, a 1.7 percent increase that is the best in a long time.
    The growth is “close to the long term average,” said Tom Clifford, Department of Finance and Administration Secretary. I suspect that the happy news will divert the existing slight attention to matters such as our pathetic labor force participation, which is toward the top of the structural problems.
    What, me worry?
    In another venue, the December Consensus Revenue Estimate, reality begins to intrude. The report cites University of New Mexico’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research, which “points out that New Mexico is the only state that has experienced so weak a recovery and questions whether the state’s weak performance is a cyclical, temporary phenomenon or if it indicates a more troubling structural change in the state’s economic competitiveness.”

  • Letters to the editor 12-28-14

    Special relations needed for council
    Arin McKenna’s story in Wednesday’s Los Alamos Monitor (Dec. 24) about the training received by new county councilors inspires me to comment.
    The relationships between the council and the county manager and the county attorney are critical to the effectiveness of the council. It is important for councilors especially to be cognizant that these relationships are more than social niceties, and that the council is not just the nominal top layer of a smoothly functioning top-down corporation.  
    In a democracy, the power flows up, not down, and the council is how the people on the bottom — you and me — get their non-professional, incoherent ideas into the organization.
    Newly elected officials typically come into office understanding this concept — diamonds-in-the-rough, so to speak. But they tend to rock the boat, so professional government staffers all over the country set up these educational forums, ostensibly to teach the neophytes the technical details of government, certainly a noble endeavor.
    In the process they like to “train” the democratic ideas out of their students, to knock off those rough edges. Same thing happens with boards of directors of corporations, which the article correctly analogizes to the council.

  • Health care options for 65-plus

    If your 65th birthday is around the corner or you’re anxious about Medicare, it’s a good time to start focusing on your options.
    Healthcare choice is becoming a bigger factor in the lives of pre-retirees as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) — better known as Obamacare — brings significant change to employer-sponsored and individually purchased health plans.
    Though a separate federal health insurance system with no connection to Obamacare or its online marketplaces, Medicare is going through its own evolution in terms of plan offerings and customer access.
    Here’s a basic primer for future Medicare enrollees:
    • What is Medicare? Medicare is a government-provided health and hospitalization insurance program for people 65 and older and for some people under age 65 based on disability or particular forms of illness.
    • What does it cost? Though you’ve likely paid taxes into the Medicare system your entire career, Medicare isn’t a completely free program; you’ll pay premiums deducted from your Social Security checks for some portions of your benefits. There may be copays and deductibles for certain services. If you have health issues already, it’s a good idea to investigate coverage based on the services you’re likely to need over time.