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Today's Opinions

  • Defending our right to be wrong

    I love this country and everything it stands for, especially our Constitutional rights to pursue happiness and to taunt the relatives of gay soldiers at funerals.
    It’s no coincidence that the Founding Fathers chose “2,” the first prime number, as the Amendment to highlight our right to bear heavy armaments. It’s a prime example of the wisdom that allows our nation to boast some of the highest firearm injury and death rates in the world.
    Uruguay and El Salvador still beat us in the suicide-by-firearms statistics, but with a little help from gun rights advocates, we’ll get there! Nothing says, “I’m proud to be American” better than shooting your mouth off with low caliber thinking.
    Recently, law abiding citizens were once again under attack by pinko fascist socialist hippie Nazi zombies who want to take away all our guns and sharp knives, and force us to eat soggy free-range veggie burgers on recycled paper plates.
    I happen to know that the Founding Fathers did not eat veggie burgers.
    OK, so a 9-year old girl accidentally shot and killed a shooting range instructor with a fully automatic 9mm Uzi.
    Six years ago, a similar incident occurred when an 8-year old boy died after shooting himself in the head with an Uzi at a gun show in Massachusetts while shooting at a pumpkin.

  • Social Security to resume mailed benefit statements

    Call it a paperless experiment that didn’t quite pan out. In 2011, a budget-strapped Social Security Administration (SSA) stopped mailing annual benefit statements to workers over 25 in order to save $70 million on annual printing and mailing costs.
    In return, the agency launched the “my Social Security” online tool that allows 24/7 access to your statement, as well as other helpful information. (Your statement shows a complete record of your taxable earnings, as well as estimated retirement, disability and survivor benefits.)
    Although more than 13 million people have opened accounts, that’s only about 6 percent of the American workforce. With millions of Baby Boomers at or approaching retirement age, Congress was justifiably concerned that not enough people were accessing this critical retirement-planning tool.
    That’s why this month SSA will resume mailing paper statements every five years to workers from ages 25 to 60, provided they haven’t already signed up for online statements. The expectation is that more people will migrate to electronic services over time, as Social Security continues to close field offices and reduce in-office paperwork services — thanks to years of funding cutbacks.

  • Fix social issues by legalizing pot

    New Mexico has a mix of fermenting social problems that could be fixed by the passage of a bill that would regulate marijuana like alcohol.
    Legalizing recreational marijuana use and possession for adults would provide users with a safer alternative to alcohol given the likelihood of it creating safer access for them.
    Safer access means consumers buying their product from a state and county-licensed retailer instead of an anonymous street dealer with cartel connections.
    Generally, marijuana has been a safer alternative because users tend to remain in control of their behavior and don’t generally commit acts of violence, or sexual assaults as people occasionally do when they are drinking.
    Reported sexual assaults, murders, and robberies have all decreased in Denver, since marijuana was legalized in January 2013. My hunch is that there are fewer black-market drug deals going bad. More people socializing with weed means less women are being sexually assaulted by aggressive drunks at parties.
    In New Mexico, drinking alcohol is ingrained as a cultural norm.
    During the last 30 years that the United States Census Bureau collected comparable data, New Mexico was among the top-three states for total alcohol-related deaths.

  • Letters to the editor 9-3-14

     

    To hundreds of locals and visitors, the face of PEEC has long been a smiling boy in an orange sweatshirt looking delightedly at a bird perched in his hand.  This picture sums up everything that PEEC wants to be for the community—a source of joy and delight in nature.  

    We at PEEC were heartbroken to hear that the model for that joyful picture has passed away. Ryan Pappas’ smile has meant so very much to us for many years.  

    It’s hard to comprehend that he is no longer out in the world, spreading the delight that his smile reflects.  

    We can’t imagine what his family and friends are going through now, but our thoughts are with them.   

  • Don’t take any chances, get your flu shot this fall

     

    The flu is nothing to sneeze at, especially if you’re an older adult.

    About 226,000 Americans will land in the hospital this year as a result of the flu and its complications, and anywhere from 3,000 to 49,000 will die from flu-related illnesses. Adults 65 and older will account for 60 percent of the hospital stays and 90 percent of the deaths.

    As people age, their immune system typically weakens and their ability to ward off diseases declines. That puts older adults at increased risk of the flu. Moreover, the virus can cause complications for those already struggling with chronic health problems. 

  • Pearce-Lara is a spirited contest in representative’s race

     

    Remember those old commercials for Geritol? “When your get-up-and-go got up and went?”

    If this gubernatorial campaign were a person, it could use a swig. These days, we’d recommend Red Bull or 5-Hour Energy. Anything to give it some oomph. In southern New Mexico, the 2nd Congressional District candidates must be consuming energy drinks by the case.

    Gov. Susana Martinez sits on a mountain of money, and her millions have purchased just 50 percent support in the polls. Gary King, who calls himself the “challenger,” has 41 percent without doing much of anything. Maybe “challenged” is the more accurate term.

    They occupy play forts full of wet ammunition. Neither one has a record to run on. 

  • What to do with surplus from the War on Terror

    Now that even President Barack Obama has noticed the Imperial Storm Trooper syndrome spreading through our law enforcement agencies, maybe we can start talking about how to rid ourselves of all that expensive military surplus hardware the Pentagon has been handing out.
    A young friend who served a tour in Iraq managing a motor pool recently explained to me why the Army was so eager to unload all those heavily-armored white elephants: “maintenance and maneuverability.”
    The battle to overcome the IED threat in Iraq and Afghanistan makes a fascinating case study in the symbiotic evolution of opposing weapons systems, ongoing since the first man learned to tie his sharp rock to a stick and the other guy started stacking his rocks to make a wall.
    What started with the troops jury-rigging steel plates to their humvees to defend against artillery shells buried in the roadway continued with a crash program to develop ever more “mine resistant” vehicles, while the jihadists responded by building bigger and more sophisticated bombs.
    With the final generation of mine-resistant vehicles, we arrived at an evolutionary dead end: nearly invulnerable armored behemoths too heavy to venture off the main paved roads and too clumsy to maneuver through narrow city streets. (The dinosaurs made the same mistake.)

  • Opening up primary elections … or not

    There is a good chance that state Sen. Bill O’Neill and state Rep. Emily Kane, both Albuquerque Democrats, will be reelected this fall and soon thereafter find themselves once more at the Roundhouse for another 60-day legislative session.
    Which leaves the rest of us ample time to reflect upon legislation they intend to propose at the 2015 Legislature that would substantially change the nature of primary elections in New Mexico.
    Primary elections were widely adopted by the states in the last century as a way of breaking the stranglehold powerful and often corrupt political bosses had in deciding who would be allowed to run for public offices under the banners of the two major parties.
    It was the reformers’ idea that registered members of those parties should be able to go to the polls in a primary election and decide such matters for themselves. Thus, for decades now in states across the country, registered Democrats and registered Republican pick the candidates who will appear on their general election ballots.
    But times and party registration change. As noted a couple of weeks ago in this column, there are today almost as many registered voters who are neither Republican nor Democratic as there are registered Democrats and Republicans combined.