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Today's Opinions

  • SB 474 makes health care prices clear

    Health care pricing has been likened to shopping blindfolded in a department store, and then months later receiving an indecipherable statement with a framed box at the bottom that says: pay this amount.
    Indeed, here in New Mexico it is easier to find information about the price and quality of a toaster than of a common medical procedure. Because information about price and quality is essential to almost every market transaction, this lack of transparency means that health care is more expensive than it would otherwise be.
    The high cost of health care has devastating consequences. More than 62 percent of personal bankruptcies in the U.S. are attributable to illness and health care debt, up from 8 percent in 1981. Many of these medical debtors are middle-class homeowners, and more than three-quarters of them have health insurance.
    Health care costs are also a heavy burden on state taxpayers, with more than 27 percent of New Mexico’s annual budget going to health care. As health care spending outpaces the growth of the rest of the economy, it threatens to crowd out spending on other priorities like education.

  • Anti-smokers can’t handle the truth about e-cigs

    Just because e-cigarettes have a name in common with tobacco cigarettes, smoking one is not the same as smoking another.  
    Everyone knows this, but could some one break the news to anti-smokers?
    There is now and always has been a major disconnection between anti-smokers and the real world. The passive smoke that made their ranting famous is forgotten when it comes to e-cigarettes.  Early studies on the smoke by both tobacco companies and other researchers show the lack of toxic danger off the charts, but anti-smokers still want them banned. Why?
    It is all about de-normalizing smoking and smokers.  Fine.  Back in 1992, when anti-smoking first started gaining traction on public policy for smoking bans, if they would have said what they say now “We are trying to make smoking an anti-social behavior” they would have been dismissed as the control freaks that they really are.
    Instead they invented a health scare.  The dangers of passive smoke.
    Here are some of the facts:
    1. There has never been medical evidence of a real death ever documented to the stated passive smoke danger.  Tens of thousands every year are claimed.

  • The true gentleman

    The recent report of Sigma Alpha Epsilon’s video-recording its members chanting a racist song wasn’t really what I would call news.
    A bunch of college boys sing proudly and loudly using the N-word in celebration of their promise to exclude blacks from membership in their club?
    “There will never be a n----r at SAE.  You can hang him from a tree, but he’ll never sign with me!”
    That’s not news. Making fun of others to exclude them from one’s clique is an old and proud American tradition. And you don’t mess with tradition!
    Like many people, I was disgusted when viewing the video, saddened to see how little has changed in so many years. And like many, I cheered when the chant-leaders were expelled and the fraternity was kicked off campus.
    The SAE Fraternity Manual declares SAE as “The Singing Fraternity,” boasting that it has “many songs that our members should learn.”
    I’m guessing that the members might want to take that out of their manual now.
    The fraternity’s motto is “The True Gentleman,” and its mission statement defines this as “the man whose conduct proceeds from good will and an acute sense of propriety,” adding “one who thinks of the rights and feelings of others.”

  • Is your teen ready for a summer job?

    For many teens, there’s nothing more exciting than receiving the first paycheck from a summer job — a sure-fire ticket to fun and freedom. It’s also a great opportunity for parents to encourage proper money management.
    Parents or guardians need to do some necessary paperwork first. Working teens will need his or her own Social Security Number (SSN) to legally apply for a job. They will also need a SSN to open a bank account to deposit their paychecks. Depending on state law, children under 18 may have to open bank accounts in their custodial name with their parents or guardians. It is also important for parents to check in with qualified tax or financial advisors about their teen’s earned income, particularly if it may affect any investments under the child’s name.

  • Pet Talk: Household toxicities

    Although we may be extra cautious when using household cleaners, automotive products, or pest control products in our homes and gardens, it may come as a surprise that the tasty morsel we just dropped while preparing dinner could endanger our best friend.
    Chocolate can be found lying around the majority of households, especially during the holidays. Depending on the size and type of chocolate, it can be very dangerous to your pet’s health if consumed.
    Make sure that your children are aware of this, as they might think they’re treating Fido by sneaking him a piece of chocolate cake under the dinner table. If your dog does get a hold of some, chocolate is absorbed within about an hour, so you should call your veterinarian immediately.
    “Additionally, grapes and raisins can cause renal failure in dogs if eaten,” said Dr. James Barr, assistant professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.
    “The exact cause of this is unknown, and the amount that needs to be consumed in order to be poisonous is unknown as well.”

  • Lottery bill is a bad gamble for students

    Responsible parents would never gamble with their child’s college savings account.
    Yet that is precisely what the New Mexico Lottery is proposing to do with the Lottery Scholarship, which serves as the college fund for many New Mexico students from low- and middle-income families.
    The New Mexico Lottery is attempting to pass Senate Bill 355, which would eliminate the requirement that a minimum of 30 percent of lottery revenues be dedicated to the scholarship fund. This requirement was enacted in 2007, based on a proposal by Think New Mexico.
    Prior to that time, there was no minimum percentage that the lottery had to deliver to the scholarship fund. The lottery was required to dedicate at least 50 percent of revenues to prizes, but once that requirement was met, the lottery paid its operating costs and sent whatever was left over to the scholarship fund.
    As a result, scholarships received an average of only 23.76 percent of lottery revenues a year from 1997-2007.
    Fortunately, the legislature enacted the 30 percent requirement, and it has resulted in an additional $9 million a year going to the scholarship fund.

  • Letters to the editor 3-28-15

    Councilor wants to clarify point

    In the March 25 story about a Los Alamos County Council discussion on the Manhattan Project National Historical Park (MPNHP), a comment made by another person was incorrectly attributed to me, as a review of the meeting recording (audio recording on KRSN at 42:37 mins) in the public record will show.  
    The story quoted me as saying that the county needs to “aggressively” ensure that the park’s national headquarters is located in Los Alamos and the story went on to report about all the people who disagreed with that position.  
    While I wasn’t the person who made that point, I think it’s perfectly appropriate for Los Alamos to argue that we should host the Park Headquarters, vying for the high paying federal jobs and locally-based decision authority that will go with the headquarters operations. I expect Oak Ridge and Hanford to make similar proposals, and I think our chances to land the headquarters on the merits in a fair competition are great.  

  • Letters to the editor 3-27-15

    Support arms negotiations

    As the United States and Iran work toward a historic nuclear draft accord on the status of Iran’s nuclear program, dozens of U.S. senators have interfered in the negotiations.
    Senator Tom Cotton and 46 others sent an ill-informed letter to Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of Iran, threatening to end any negotiated agreement regarding nuclear weapons once President Barack Obama leaves office.
    This undermines the president’s ability now, and in the future, to achieve the national security goals of the United States. It should be the long-term goal of our national leaders to rid the world of all nuclear weapons, whether they be in the hands of Iran, North Korea, Russia, or the United States. We in New Mexico should stand up and be the leaders in this area.
    Whether we have parents affected by radiation from the Trinity test, friends who worked in the uranium mines, or distant relatives who created Fat Man, the history of the atomic age is littered with human and environmental casualties.
    As an Action Corps leader for Global Zero, I urge all New Mexicans to support negotiations with Iran, and pressure our local leaders to support the elimination of nuclear weapons.
    Jesse Guillén
    Santa Fe