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Today's Opinions

  • Lawmakers worry more about predatory lenders than about borrowers

    Storefront lenders can still charge their low-income borrowers any interest rate they see fit because legislators didn’t fix the problem.
    These companies, called “predatory” by their many critics, are the bottom feeders of banking. They exist because there’s a need.
    A lot of people never have enough money left after expenses to make a deposit and they don’t have credit cards either.
    The term for them is “the unbanked.”
    Storefront lenders make small loans at triple-digit interest rates (or more) to the unbanked. When borrowers can’t repay, lenders roll over the loan and fees and interest spiral.
    Predatory lending is the flawed answer to a problem. Banks and credit unions are practiced in sizing you up to decide if you’re credit worthy before they loan you a dollar and the complaint is usually that they’re too strict.
    Storefront lenders make loans to anybody. There’s the rub.
    As I discovered when I wrote about them recently, storefront lenders don’t care whether you’re credit worthy or not. They expect to get burned on a large number of their loans, so they charge high fees and interest rates. They make their money from the people who do attempt to repay their loans.

  • Regulating shows lack of R&D

    Research and development (R&D) is the good genie that improves every technical tool important to society and business.
    Few tools have more troubling defects than the tools of regulating. We know so by the heated reactions they spark in every interest group.
    Why then is R&D used so little to improve these tools? Our lack of R&D ignores the lush fields of opportunity for improving regulatory tools.
    R&D projects can be mapped to show where they fit with the four distinct steps in the regulatory process, namely, (1) rule-making, (2) permitting, (3) inspection and (4) enforcement.
    Politics and publicity focus on rule-making, which also involves science and engineering. Yet, most of the day-to-day work is in implementation — permitting and inspecting. Here is where many tasks could be done better, faster and cheaper if aided by 21st century technology. Indeed, this is the founding vision of R&D.
    In broad terms, environmental voices are not fond of swift permitting. By the same token, industrial voices are not fond of swift inspection and enforcement.
    Over time, each side tweaks certain parts to make them clumsy. Both sides conclude that a clumsy part is a fair reason to add more unwieldy parts. Both sides and all taxpayers suffer the cost of this contest.

  • Breast cancer can hit cats, too

    Breast cancer is unfortunately prevalent not only among humans, but also in our feline friends.
    Just like with people, mammary cancer is very aggressive in cats, and they have the best chance of survival if caught early.
    “Eighty-five percent of mammary tumors found in cats are malignant, and more that 80 percent will eventually spread to other locations in the body, such as the lymph nodes, lungs, bone and internal organs,” said Dr. Jacqueline Bloch, medical oncology resident at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences.
    It is found that Siamese and domestic shorthair cats are more at risk for mammary tumors.
    “Siamese are especially prone to developing them at a relatively young age,” Bloch said. “The average age is 10 years in other cats.”
    However, it is a risk for any cat to develop a mammary tumor, and like with other cancers, it is important to get a proper diagnosis.
    “Mammary tumors in cats are best diagnosed by a biopsy. This helps us to give prognostic information to the owners as well as diagnosis,” Bloch said. “Sometimes we can obtain diagnosis by a relatively non-invasive needle biopsy.”

  • Thank you from Lions Club

    Giving sight to community

    The Los Alamos Lions Club would like to express appreciation to the people of Los Alamos who have donated their used eyeglasses. These glasses are taken to an eyeglass distribution center where they are refurbished and given to needy persons in the United States, as well as around the world.
    Only volunteers of the Lions Club perform these jobs. Thanks also to Eye Associates of New Mexico for their donation of glasses.
    The collection boxes for used eyeglasses may be found at the Betty Ehart Senior Center, Los Alamos Medical Center and the Mesa Public Library.
    Lions Club has a dinner meeting at the home of Mary Swickard the first and third Thursday of the month. Any interested persons are welcome. Call 672-3300 for more information.

  • Knowing no means no

    Katie’s parents were excited to see their daughter going to college.
    They told her that she would be making all sorts of new friends, that she should welcome the experience of new adventures and new challenges, and most importantly that she should not be afraid of the unknown.
    Yeah, right! Can you imagine parents telling their 18-year-old daughter not to be afraid of college? Encouraging her to take chances? Encouraging her to trust new friends?
    One in five female students on college campuses report sexual assaults to the authorities (police). These statistics do not include the alarming number of brutal sexual assaults not reported.
    Of course, if women didn’t go to college, they wouldn’t get raped in college, right?
    That’s the inspirational logic spewed from the putrid decomposing brain of Phyllis Schlafly, who said “Boys are more likely than girls to look at the cost-benefit trade-off of going to college. The imbalance of far more women at colleges has been a factor in the various sex scandals that have made the news in the last couple of years.”
    That’s pure genius!  Schlafly equates the increase in female enrollment in colleges to a cost-benefit for men. And women are “asking for it” by going to college in the first place.

  • Negative interest rates can be a brilliant concept

    I have to admit that initially I was uninterested, even close-minded, about the negative yield being offered on a growing share of European sovereign debt.
    “It must be a short-term aberration,” I thought at first. “Completely nutso,” I sniffed dismissively as the phenomenon spread. “Who in their right mind would invest in a financial instrument that would guarantee a loss of principal?”
    Upon calmer reflection, I would shrug and think, “Well, to each his own, but none of those topsy-turvy debt instruments for me.”
    More recently, I have taken a more tolerant attitude toward negative-yield debt. As I teach my Econ 101 students, the key to success in the economic marketplace is to set aside your own preconceptions and preferences and to acknowledge that the consumer is always right.
    In fact, the more I think about it, I find myself attracted to the idea of offering such a service to satisfy this unfathomable consumer appetite for negative yields. Maybe I should announce that anybody out there who would like to send me money on the condition that I return less than all of it to them in the future is free to do so (as long as they include payment for any incidental transaction costs). From that perspective, negative interest rates are quite ingenious.

  • DOT: Fixing N.M. roads is a matter of policy

    White poles frame the lanes of N.M. 279 at its intersection with N.M. 124 just north of Laguna and form a cluster.
    For the first-time observer, the white hilltop cluster is odd: “What in the world is that?” Turn north on 279 and the purpose — if not the rationale — becomes evident. The poles channel traffic, such as it is, through the intersection.
    Our years long, nine-figure difference between what ought to be done maintaining and building highways and the money available, as defined by the state Department of Transportation, must be a matter of policy. It has continued so long that it must be on purpose.
    Just kidding. I hope.
    Within the policy, some things stand out — the ghostly cluster, for example.
    One doesn’t just build a road. My sample of the materials from a Transportation Commission meeting is a five-eighths-inch thick book.
    Examples of work DOT likes appear in the department’s annual report. While the project descriptions are all happy news, some interesting hints slide in. The 2013 report’s description of rebuilding the I-10/I-25 interchange south of Las Cruces mentions reconstruction of two bridges “to meet current design standards.”

  • Thank you to community

    Great community
    outcome for Earth Day

    On behalf of the Pajarito Environmental Education Center and as chairperson for the Earth Day Festival at the new Nature Center, I would like to thank the committee, the many volunteers, the staff, the community and the weather for making our Earth Day Festival a wonderful celebration. Fit in amongst the moving, settling and opening of the Los Alamos Nature Center was planning for the celebration of our planet Earth.
    The committee included volunteers and staff of PEEC, the Los Alamos Co-Op Market, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Bradbury Science Museum, and University of New Mexico-Los Alamos. Although we have sponsored an Earth Day Festival for 15 years, this was a new place, which presented new challenges. Each contributor’s ideas and dedication were greatly appreciated.
    Our sponsors included Los Alamos National Bank, LANL, Atomic City Transit, UNM-LA, the Los Alamos Monitor, the Los Alamos County Environmental Sciences and Los Alamos Mainstreet. We could not have done it without their support.
    We would especially like to thank Kristin Henderson, chairperson of the County Council, who took time to be our Master of Ceremonies.