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Today's Opinions

  • Home remodel for the new year

    Our 2014 huge positives were the first grandchild, a new kitchen and hanging out by the ocean in Monterrey, California. The negatives were many, many trips to doctors.
    The kitchen came courtesy of an inheritance from my mother. In developing the project, we considered many things. Our research led us to million dollar homes with sloppy work. Most of our ideas worked; some didn’t, demanding compromise and rethinking. Our experience may lend some insight as you contemplate such a project.
    While we managed without a $10,000 stove, the project was extravagant. Fortunately we could not enlarge the kitchen because our house encircles it.
    We had the cash. Obvious advice, item one, be able to pay. Call me an outlier in our consumption ethos, but I’ve never been a borrower. Only for houses, but not for cars (once, only) and definitely not now with a fixed income.
    We didn’t worry about recapturing remodeling cost on sale of the house. We plan to be in the house long enough to render such an analysis moot. We did the project for us, not for the next guy.

  • Considering life without owning a car

    Most baby boomers couldn’t envision their early adult years without a car. However, times are changing and younger commuters are leading the way.
    According to an October study by U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG) and the Frontier Group, millennials — those born between 1983 and 2000 — are driving significantly less than older Americans. Many post-college drivers swimming in college debt are opting for urban living where walking, biking and mass transit tend to be easier options. Increasingly, those with a temporary need for four-wheel transportation can do so by smartphone.
    Today, there are many options to conventional car ownership, but it’s important to match solutions and their specific costs to your needs. Here’s a road map for exploring what’s right for you.
    Start with the cost of driving. If you already drive and budget carefully, you will have an idea of what driving costs you can incur each year in financing, fuel, fees, maintenance and insurance.

  • Challenges and opportunities for the 2015 U.S. Economy

    With the stock market at an all-time high, a bonanza of cheap gasoline, and unemployment at 5.8 percent, there is increased optimism about the U.S. economy. Yet challenges abound, both from the inside and abroad.
    Participation in the labor force remains at the lowest levels since the late 1970s, with over 6 million less people in the workforce since President Barack Obama assumed office. The time of reckoning for the Fed is arriving.
    The Fed will likely begin introducing higher rates early this year. If it waits until 2016 it might risk causing a negative short-term impact just before the presidential election.
    With over $7 trillion of new borrowing no other president in U.S. history has increased the debt as much as Obama. Eventually these policies need to be reversed, causing painful readjustments.

  • Letters to the editor 1-22-15

    Donate for Valentines for Vets

    The Ladies Auxiliary of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 8874 in Los Alamos is a nonprofit organization of volunteers who donate their time and talents for the benefit of our veterans at home and abroad.  
    We send care packages to our military overseas, as well as phone cards (via Operation Uplink) to our deployed military personnel.  
    On the home front, we financially support the VFW National Home for Children, Unmet Needs and Cancer Aid and Research programs, we continually work to obtain legislation that will benefit our veterans and their families, we sponsor the Young American Creative Patriotic Art, Outstanding Young Volunteer and Americanism youth programs in our schools, we assist local families of disabled and needy veterans, and we visit the VA Hospital in Albuquerque every February for the Valentines for Vets event.
    The Valentines for Vets event consists of visiting our veterans and distributing amenities along with Valentine’s Day cards made locally and collected by our Girl Scouts.  
    This year’s event will be at 1 p.m. Feb. 8. Since the Albuquerque Veterans Hospital services the entire northern area of our state, we are soliciting donations from everyone in our connected communities.  

  • Home remodel for the new year

    Our 2014 huge positives were the first grandchild, a new kitchen and hanging out by the ocean in Monterrey, California. The negatives were many, many trips to doctors.
    The kitchen came courtesy of an inheritance from my mother. In developing the project, we considered many things. Our research led us to million dollar homes with sloppy work. Most of our ideas worked; some didn’t, demanding compromise and rethinking. Our experience may lend some insight as you contemplate such a project.
    While we managed without a $10,000 stove, the project was extravagant. Fortunately we could not enlarge the kitchen because our house encircles it.
    We had the cash. Obvious advice, item one, be able to pay. Call me an outlier in our consumption ethos, but I’ve never been a borrower. Only for houses, but not for cars (once, only) and definitely not now with a fixed income.
    We didn’t worry about recapturing remodeling cost on sale of the house. We plan to be in the house long enough to render such an analysis moot. We did the project for us, not for the next guy.

  • Running a business through a franchise has its advantages

    Multinational franchises like McDonald’s and KFC started small and worked their way up the food chain over decades.
    That methodical approach to growth seems too slow for the owners of two Albuquerque businesses.
    Before Olo Yogurt Studio opened its first store in 2010 and WisePies served its first pizza in 2014, the owners of both ventures planned to become franchises — and to waste no time doing it.
    Olo Yogurt opened a second store — a carbon copy of its colorful original — within three years and was strengthening its brand for further expansion.
    WisePies was less than a year old when it announced its intentions to open 20 new stores within a year and to offer franchise licenses for $35,000.
    In December, the company signed a $5 million deal for naming rights to the University of New Mexico basketball arena, commonly known as The Pit, now the WisePies Arena.
    The franchise or chain store model isn’t the only way for a business to grow, but its appeal is obvious.
    A franchisor can recruit talented go-getters who want to run a business with a built-in market, name recognition and institutional support. And they can do it without draining their capital budgets, as franchisees typically pay much of their own startup costs.

  • Letters to the editor 1-20-15

    Food tax proposal
    good for communities
    The food tax exemption enacted by the state Legislature in 2004 stretched the food budgets of middle- and upper-income New Mexicans, but did nothing to help low-income residents who qualify for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) vouchers, which are tax exempt.
    Subsequent actions by the Legislature to compensate for this lost revenue only made matters worse, especially for the least advantaged New Mexicans — the supposed beneficiaries of the food tax exemption.
    The 2004 law raised the state gross receipts tax (GRT) rate by .5 percent, and in 2010, the state GRT on non-food products and services jumped again from 5 percent to 5.125 percent.
    In 2013, local governments were allowed to raise local tax rates three-eighths of a percent for non-food items, which could increase GRT by three-quarters of a percent if a city and county both imposed the increase.
    For example, the GRT in Red River is 8.4375 percent. If both the town and Taos County enact the local increase, purchases made in Red River would be subject to GRT of 9.1875 percent. A GRT rate over 9 percent is hard on low-income families, bad for businesses and harmful to the town when tourists choose less-expensive destinations.

  • When city halls duck-and-cover

    Starting with the earliest years of the Republic, a constant theme has laced its way through American political rhetoric to the effect that local and state governments, being “closer to the People” than a far-away national government, are best able to deal with the “People’s” needs and problems.
    It has always been a slightly silly proposition, if only because some of the “People’s” needs and problems transcend the boundaries and jurisdictions of state and local government, such as interstate commerce, national defense and terrorism.
    Lately, however, even a governmental function, which has historically been deemed inherently “local” in nature has found local governments in every part of the land clearly floundering, if not downright incompetent to handle.
    Consider local law enforcement.
    As most New Mexicans know, the state’s largest city has basically lost control of its police department and has entered into a written agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to fashion far-reaching police reforms, which Albuquerque officials — mayor and city council — will be obligated to implement.