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Today's Opinions

  • Pros and cons of reverse mortgages

    Over the last decade, reverse mortgages have been marketed as an easy way for seniors to cash in their home equity to pay for living expenses. However, many have learned that improper use of the product — such as pulling all their cash out at one time to pay bills — has led to significant financial problems later, including foreclosure.
    In actuality, there are some cases where reverse mortgages can be helpful to borrowers. However, it is imperative to do extensive research on these products before you sign.
    Reverse mortgages are special kinds of home loans that let borrowers convert some of their home equity into cash. They come in three varieties: single-purpose reverse mortgages, Home Equity Conversion Mortgages (HECMs) and proprietary reverse mortgages.
    Who can apply? Homeowners can apply for a reverse mortgage if they are at least 62 years old, own their home outright or have a low mortgage balance that can be paid off with the proceeds of the reverse loan. Qualifying homeowners also must have no delinquent federal debt, the financial resources to pay for upkeep, taxes and insurance and live in the home during the life of the loan.

  • Police officers authority and accountability

    America is not a police state. This is not a country in which the arm of justice is empowered to pursue arbitrary and selfish goals.
    Instead, America is a land of laws that restrict harm, damage, selfishness and the arbitrary use of force by police, as well as citizens. Power in America is not absolute because it is restricted by law. Yes, the arm of the law is long, but in very predictable ways.
    In particular, the exercise of power in America is properly limited by accountability. In each and every one of my own roles, I have both designated authority and defined accountability.
    When the system works properly, the accountability increases the likelihood that I will use my authority to strengthen the good of society and limit any arbitrary or selfish exercise of power that harms others.
    In my role as father, I was expected to exert my authority in the training and education of my boys, increasing the likelihood that they would become contributing members of society. I was accountable to local authorities who had the responsibility to ensure that my parenting did not become neglectful or abusive.

  • As state after state legalizes marijuana, will New Mexico join in?

    Whether as a slowly rising tide or flash flood, marijuana reform is on its way to New Mexico. The question is, who will benefit economically from what’s shaping up to be the fastest-growing industry of this decade?
    Since New Mexico became the first state to license and regulate the production and distribution of medical marijuana in 2007, 23 other states have followed our lead. Now Colorado, Oregon, Washington and Alaska have legalized recreational use. The District of Columbia has approved legalization, and unless Congress blocks it, President Barack Obama will soon be able to reunite his Hawaii choom gang for a smoke in the Rose Garden. (Hard to guess how the Secret Service would handle that, since pot remains illegal on federal property.)
    If he chooses to use the “pen and phone” he’s been brandishing lately in the cause of drug law reform, the president could drop marijuana from the fed’s list of controlled substances, a move that would favorably impact more Americans than his unilateral action on immigration. That would open the floodgates for similar reforms nationwide.
    Arizona legislators will weigh a legalization bill in the session opening this month, although it’s unlikely to make it to a floor vote this year.

  • Walmart and the myth of free market

    As the Legislature debates the two related issues of right to work and minimum wage, we’re probably going to hear about theories like free markets and free choice. So let’s get real.
    Some things are still traded in completely free markets, I suppose, but I would hesitate to name one nationally marketed product that is not somehow affected (for better or worse) by subsidies, tax breaks, or other factors that have nothing to do with consumer choice. (If you find one, please write to me!)  
    We are all subsidizing Walmart. If you don’t shop there, you are subsidizing the purchases of people who do.  
    Americans for Tax Fairness issued a report in April 2014 called “Walmart on Tax Day:  How Taxpayers Subsidize America’s Biggest Employer and Richest Family.”
    In this report, a state-by-state analysis shows the estimated number of Walmart employees in New Mexico as 14,322. The estimated public assistance cost for those New Mexico employees is $63.2 million. The estimated yearly total of tax breaks and subsidies to the Walmart stores in New Mexico, benefitting the company’s owners and stockholders, is $73.7 million. Those two figures add up to $136.9 million — money either not collected in taxes or paid out in public assistance to workers.  

  • Is Governor Martinez a corporate puppet?

    The information in a Jan. 9 report, “Martinez throws support behind right-to-work,” in the business section of the Albuquerque Journal reinforces the claim that Gov. Susana Martinez is just another Republican agent working for big business.
    As usual, the governor proclaims that she is working for the people. “It is fundamentally wrong to require membership (in a union) in order to get a job or take money from the paychecks of our workers by force to support a special interest group that they do not want to be a part of.”
    But where was she speaking and why?
    Martinez was appearing “before about 500 business leaders and legislators at a Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce luncheon.”
    It is a little hypocritical and suspect to claim you are supporting labor rights when you are speaking before a special interest business group that would benefit the most from abolishing unions altogether.
    Hmm. Do you really think the governor is looking out for workers, or is she trying to pay back big businesses for their financial support and troll for more cash to fuel her political ambitions?
    There are several inconvenient truths about right-to-work (RTW) laws.

  • Congress and Obama’s executive order allow firms to invite guest workers

    Many Americans are upset by the decision of President Barack Obama to issue an executive order to reform immigration policy. The executive order effectively grants undocumented immigrants the legal right to remain in the United States if they have been here five years and are parents, children, or spouses of citizens or of legal residents. The president says that he did this because Congress has not passed an immigration reform bill.
    Obama’s impatience with Congress on immigration reform is understandable. Government has allowed millions of immigrants to remain in the United States even though they are violating the law by being here. Since it costs about $23,000 to deport an undocumented immigrant, it would be fiscally irresponsible to try to deport a significant percentage of them. Thus, we need to reform immigration policy so that we have a law that we can afford to enforce. Although Obama may have gone beyond his authority as president, his action serves to highlight the urgency of Congress acting to reform immigration policy.

  • Do as I say, not as I do

    I love malapropisms (using the wrong words to obfuscate meaning), such as dancing the flamingo, or teaching family values as the bondage between mother and child.
    Word abuse like that is now called a Bushism, named after a grating great man who was ungratefully “misterunderestimated.”
    But I’m not really well versed enough to understand the nuances of advanced wordplay, juggling between mondegreens, eggcorns, spoonerisms and other side dishes of word salad. I usually wade in the kiddie pool of language and limit myself to idioms.
    Idioms can be truly bizarre when you take the time to think about them. Like saying that something costs an arm and a leg. So what can you get for a spleen and a gall bladder?
    Now, one of the most overused colloquialisms is “Practice what you preach.” Some people liken this to meaning “Walk the walk and talk the talk.”
    Actually, the correct terminology should be “Walk the talk,” meaning to follow a set of rules or directions that you expect others to follow.
    All too often however, the intended meaning is, “Do as I say, not as I do.”
    A perfect case in point would be Bristol Palin, who was paid by the Candie’s Foundation to promote “her message” on the importance of abstinence.

  • Attacks on journalists can’t be tolerated

    On Wednesday, the world was shocked and appalled by the deplorable attacks at the Paris office of the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo. Twelve men and women were murdered for expressing their freedom of speech.
    Sadly, it is not an isolated incident.
    In August, journalist James Foley was beheaded in Syria after being held captive for nearly two years. In September, a gruesome video released by terrorists showed freelance journalist Steven Sotloff beheaded.
    It has become a disturbing trend for radicals and terrorists to target journalists. These attacks challenge the value of free speech at its core.
    Worldwide, there have been more than 60 journalists killed and more than 100 kidnapped in the past year. This is unacceptable. It cannot continue. Every attack on the press is an attack on all of our freedom.
    A free press is a vital and integral part of any free society. Even in our country, we have seen steps taken to limit and outright prevent the media from doing its job.
    In 2013, the newspaper industry was shocked to learn the U.S. Department of Justice seized reporters’ personal records and phone logs. New York Times reporter James Risen has faced the threat of jail time for more than a year because of his unwillingness to divulge the names of confidential sources.