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Today's Opinions

  • Picking up post-election pieces

    Amid Republican glee, Democrats find themselves picking up the pieces following the drubbing they took at the November elections.
    Back on Capitol Hill, one of those pieces, Nancy Pelosi, the former Democratic Speaker who spent the past four years as Democratic House minority leader, seemingly emerged unscathed by the defeat her party suffered in Congress.
    By all accounts she’ll keep her post as minority leader for another two years, although you’ll find any number of Democrats — rank-and-file on up — who suspect someone other than Pelosi at the head of their decimated party in the House might be the better part of wisdom.
    At the Roundhouse here in New Mexico, on the other hand, leadership changes run rampant.
    For the first time in most New Mexicans’ memories, a certified, honest-to-goodness Republican will wield the gavel as Speaker at the state House of Representatives when the Legislature convenes next month.
    Back in the 1980s Republicans basically controlled the state House for a period of time in a coalition engineered with a few turncoat Dems, one of whom, a gentleman named Gene Samberson, they picked to be Speaker.
    But with the upcoming 60-day legislative session, Rep. Donald Tripp of Socorro is slated to become New Mexico’s first Republican House Speaker in over 60 years.

  • Pet Talk: Keeping furry pals safe during the holidays

    The most wonderful time of the year is upon us, and what better way to prepare for the holidays than including your furry friends in the festivities? However, with all of the hustle and bustle of this busy season, we often forget to adapt our celebrations for the safety of our pets. Here are some ways to keep Fido and Fluffy safe while rockin’ around the Christmas tree.
    When it comes to decorating your home, there are a few items to leave behind if you have a curious dog or cat lurking around. Animals are often attracted to the sparkly tinsel and ribbons left lying out, and these can easily obstruct their digestive tract if ingested, often requiring emergency surgery. Make sure to keep these decorations out of reach or out of sight.
    “Mistletoe especially can cause vomiting and diarrhea, as well as neurologic signs such as seizures,” said Dr. Stacy Eckman, clinical assistant professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. “Other holiday plants, such as poinsettias, can also cause vomiting and diarrhea when eaten.”

  • Onward to 21st century regulation

    Since the genesis of the human race, the advance of civilization has been defined by the quality of its regulating. Yet, the word evokes emotions as varied as the looks people fashion on their faces.  
    Regulation is older than written history. The first “regulation” of cavemen by cavemen was throwing rocks to fortify a point of disagreement. As the Stone Age drew on, a new means of enforcement appeared on the scene, namely, the stone axe.
    Slowly, regulatory systems improved. Peer pressure had promising effects among small groups. As groups grew larger, tribal customs grew with them and evolved to be tendrils of religions.
    Time passed. Regulation took more standardized forms, as in the Ten Commandments. Recall those brief decrees against killing, adultery, stealing, bearing false witness and coveting.  
    Businesses sprouted and spread. Entrepreneurs began to see they could build larger markets if they could reach customers farther from their shop.
    But selling things at a distance first requires standardized and enforceable weights and measures and then a trusted means of money exchange — the dawn of banking. In other words, doing business at a distance requires more regulation and inspection.

  • Overall health could be improved with help of dental therapists

    We have a dental crisis in New Mexico. Our state is underserved and many areas do not even have a practicing dentist.
    Many across our state go without dental care, and those who do get care in rural areas have to travel a long way to get it. For several years, I worked as a dentist in Fort Sumner, and I treated patients from a lot of areas to include Santa Rosa, Roswell, Santa Fe, Vaughn, Albuquerque and some from Texas border towns.
    Many of my patients spent several hours in a car each way just to get care at our clinic. Some came simply because they knew me. Others came because we used a sliding payment scale based on income and didn’t turn anyone away. Still others couldn’t get an appointment elsewhere. There are so few dentists, and even fewer who accept Medicaid, so our clinic was their best choice.
    By the time they arrived, some had advanced oral disease, and most were in desperate need of extractions, partially due to lack of education and poor access to dental care that many could not afford.

  • Supporting transparency is good for the economy

    Day in and day out, the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government is on the front lines, supporting the public’s right to know.
    FOG has been educating, advocating and litigating for transparency and accountability in our government for almost 25 years.
    So what? Why should you care? Isn’t access to public records a game of inside baseball that only political wonks and the press play? If you care about the state of the economy, you should care about open government. It’s not just about transparency and good government. It’s also about jobs and economic development, say a growing number of experts and policymakers.
    Journalists were the first to push for access to public records in the ’60s and ’70s to find out what government was doing and to hold public officials accountable. However, today requests for public records are predominantly filed by businesses, outnumbering requests from the press by three or four to one, according to one nationwide survey.

  • Misconceptions abound on 'Right to Work' issue

    In the wake of the 2014 elections, New Mexico has a unique opportunity to enacted long-overdue economic reforms. The goal of those reforms must be to wean our struggling economy off of an increasingly, unreliable Washington by developing a strong private sector.
    At the top of the agenda is a “right to work” law which, far from being “anti-union” would simply prohibit so-called “closed shop” agreements that require workers to pay union dues as a pre-condition of employment. Forcing workers to pay dues for any organization is simply wrong. Private sector unions can and should exist and they would be better advocates for workers if they actually have to prove they are worthy of membership.
    It is worth noting that 20 of the 24 current “right to work” states have higher private sector unionization rates than New Mexico. In other words, due to the historical weakness of New Mexico’s private sector, these unions have had relatively few members. If New Mexico can strengthen its private sector with “right to work” and some other pro-growth policy reforms, private sector unions could see real growth.

  • Smart tax moves to consider before New Year's Eve

    The flurry of activity during the last weeks of December can make it difficult to pay attention to finances. If you want to save on your tax bill come April, now’s the time to make some critical moves.
    If you have a tax advisor or financial planner, it’s wise to run these ideas by them first. Here are some suggestions to investigate by year-end with follow-up in the new year:
    1. Accelerate your deductions and defer your income. It makes the list every year because it works. To keep your 2014 tax bill low, try to defer bonuses, consulting income or self-employment income until 2015 while taking as many deductions as you legally can in 2014. Deductions may include paying your January federal and state income taxes before Dec. 31, real estate taxes and interest payments.
    2. Bunch non-urgent medical expenses this year or move them to 2015. If you have non-emergency medical procedures coming up, it’s a good idea to pack them into the same year so people under age 65 can exceed the 10 percent adjusted gross income (AGI) minimum for medical expenses. For those over age 65, the AGI minimum is 7.5 percent.

  • Republican agenda raises questions

    Marita Noon’s op-ed in Sunday’s Los Alamos Monitor never actually states whether she is in favor of the Republican agenda laid out, but based on her previous letters, one has to assume she is, which is a bit scary.
    The sum total of her bulleted points can be summarized as “drill, baby drill.”
    Let’s drill in the Arctic, build the Keystone pipeline, and export our oil, but let’s not worry about those pesky EPA regulations, or endangered species. Why bother passing new legislation or changing enforcement of regulations in the United States. It would be simpler to just move to China!
    I’m sure Ms. Noon would be happy to have Beijing-levels of smog in New York and Los Angeles, not to mention having to deal with those annoying oil pipeline leaks.
    However, Ms. Noon saves the best for last, stating “If the Republican policies turn the economy around ‘as predicted’ offering a sharp contrast to the ‘stagnation’ of the past six years (my quotes) ….”
    One needs to ask, predicted by whom? George W. Bush’s tax-cutting policies didn’t work so well for the U.S. economy in 2008, driving us into the Great Recession. And what is meant by stagnation?