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Today's Opinions

  • What does retirement look like if you haven’t saved?

    The picture of retirement that many of us have is a post-work period filled with travel and plenty of relaxation. It’s a time when you can finally take up a new hobby, sink into the pile of books and enjoy more time with family and friends.
    The reality is that many haven’t been able to save enough money to enjoy this idealized retirement. What might their retirement look like?
    You may be working for longer than you expected. Many people undergo a period of “phased retirement” and either reduce their hours or start a new part-time job after retiring from a full-time schedule. Even those who don’t have a financial need may find that they value the activity and connections work brings to their lives. Without savings, continuing to work might not be a choice, but you can still look for fulfilling opportunities.
    Continuing within the same profession part-time or taking on related consulting work could be the most financially rewarding route, if it’s an option. Alternatives such as customer service positions with a retailer are popular among some retirees. There are also Internet-based jobs that allow you to work from home.
    Social Security could be your sole source of income. Retirees who don’t have a pension or savings and stop working may find that Social Security is their only income.

  • Algae’s best times may lie ahead

    An algae bloom, also known as an algal bloom, is but one of the ways this old, old life form makes news. An algae bloom can look like a floating green garden, a red tide or a muddy brown oil spill.
    Algae is the collective term for a large and diverse group of aquatic plants that were early ramblers on Earth. Besides a long history, algae also have a rare ability to grow fast. An algae bloom is a rapid growth in the population of algae in a local aquatic system. Depending on the algae, blooms have special colors and can do great harm to an ecosystem. The toxic effects of some algae blooms can kill fish and mammals and threaten urban water supplies. Researchers are finding ways to combat the damage from these sudden overgrowths.
    Meanwhile, other researchers are busy finding ways to get more good from the good algae, of which there are many. The oddities of algae may help fill two of the modern world’s fast growing needs – food and fuels.
    Algae were food fit for guests in ancient China. Similar discoveries were made in Japan, Hawaii and even cropped up in Ireland.
    After World War II, a taste for seaweed, or “nori,” spread to the US with
    Japanese food. As the land gets more crowded, interest grows in the possibilities of algae for food.

  • Albuquerque scores the jobs for January-to-January year

    Randomly touring the state’s job numbers is worthy if only for the ritual. Trend reminders lurk—Albuquerque’s apparent economic dominance reappearing and rural problems. Another element is the Legislature’s cut-and-paste budget that kicks the can of real change so far down the road that it produces just a distant plink as it bounces.
    Over the month from December 2016 to January 2017, the state lost 19,400 jobs, 1,300 more than the 18,100 dropped from December 2015 to January 2016. For the year just past, the state’s 900-job increase represents a slight reversal from the 1,800 jobs lost between January 2015 and January 2016.
    The January 2016 to January 2017 net job performance for New Mexico’s four metro areas was 2,300 more wage jobs. Albuquerque and Las Cruces respectively added 3,800 and 800 jobs. Farmington lost 1,800 and Santa Fe, 500. The state added a net of 900 jobs, meaning that the 26 rural counties lost 1,400 jobs (2,300 minus 900 = 1,400).
    The 6.7 percent January unemployment rate that got the headlines was seasonally adjusted. The unadjusted January rate was 7 percent. The February rate increased to 6.8 percent, again seasonally adjusted.

  • When legislators tackle big reforms, movement translates as progress

    Lawmakers this year took on some major reforms of old issues hovering over the state like turkey vultures waiting for road kill.  
    Interest groups ranging from Common Cause to the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce proclaimed progress. Maybe not as much as we hoped, but progress.
    The big reform bills were ethics, campaign finance, capital outlay, payday lending and taxes. Many were bipartisan.
    Years in the making, the ethics bill began bravely by standing up an independent ethics commission with subpoena power, protected by the Constitution. When it emerged after pummeling in various hearings, it was missing language that required complaints and hearings to be public, and the Legislature, not the law, will determine the commission’s powers and rules.
    Changes reflect legislators’ residual fear that the commission could become a political weapon.
    So voters in November 2018 will decide on a constitutional amendment creating an independent ethics commission.
    Common Cause and business groups cheered. New Mexico Ethics Watch booed, saying lawmakers gutted a strong bill.
    Kudos to Rep. Jim Dines, R-Albuquerque, who patiently listened to input and welcomed suggestions. The hearings themselves were a marvel. Instead of trying to kill the bill, lawmakers worked with Dines to fine tune the bill.

  • Practical financial planning for parents

    Nathaniel Sillen

    Practical Money Skills

  • Healthcare change asks hard questions about cost and services

    “In America, we don’t leave people bleeding in the doorway of the emergency room.”  I wrote that line for a presentation I used to give, some 25 years ago, about medical care in workers’ compensation.
    There had been a time when some American hospitals did exactly that. Even in emergencies, patients had to produce an insurance card before they would be treated. A federal law was enacted in 1986 prohibiting hospitals from turning away patients in emergencies.
    The system has been been battling ever since over who pays. The hospital? The taxpayers? The patient with no money? The Affordable Care Act offers one solution by requiring everybody to be insured and providing subsidies.
    The “individual mandate” is one thing many Americans detest about the ACA. So, among the features of the new proposed healthcare law it took Congressional Republicans only six years to draft, the individual mandate is to be repealed. Young healthy people who think they don’t need insurance won’t have to buy it.
    But young healthy people can get sick or injured. What does the proposed law anticipate when a young healthy uninsured person shows up with broken bones from a motorcycle accident? Who will pay the bill? Or will we go back to letting him bleed? That has to be one of our questions.

  • Running out the clock on New Mexico’s future

    BY REP. JASON HARPER
    R-Rio Rancho, New Mexico House of Representatives

  • Administrative state creeps along, always growing, always costing more

    The tax boys want additional information for your 2016 return, starting with your driver’s license number. If claiming certain credits for children, you must prove the kid lives with you, which, says my tax preparer, “gets really interesting if the kid is between zero and four.”
    Besides treading on our liberty, the requirements raise costs and provide another definition of what is being called “the administrative state.”
    In his March 5 Washington Post column, Robert Samuelson, one of my favorite analysts, quoting historian Steven Hayward from the current issue of the conservative Claremont Review of Books, wrote, “The administrative state represents a new and pervasive form of rule, and a perversion of constitutional self-government.” Samuelson concluded, “Like it or not, we do have an administrative state. It isn’t going away.”
    The simplest compliance with the new IRS rules will require about 20 minutes, estimates my tax preparer. There will be a modest charge for one new form. Otherwise the changes mean less sleep and no new clients this year, which means that the IRS has prevented the business from growing.
    Another favorite source, Megan McArdle of Bloomberg.com, in a Feb. 14 post linked to a long consideration of why everything costs more.