.....Advertisement.....
.....Advertisement.....

Today's Opinions

  • Letters to the editor 5-17-15

    Branding needs
    success measurements

    I found Councilor Kristin Henderson’s recent column on branding very much unconvincing, largely because (a) no objectives were explicitly stated for “branding” and (b) no measures of success were proffered.
    Henderson lists several “successful” branding stories, but frankly I had never heard of any of them. The fact that I never heard of such isn’t terribly important, but what is important is that no measure of just how such efforts were judged successful was offered.
    Without such, there is simply no way to evaluate her statements.
     Let’s assume for the moment that the examples Henderson listed are in fact, somehow, successes. Many communities have attempted to brand themselves. How many such efforts have failed?
    Listing only successes seems to me rather like asking a gambler how he or she is doing. Such folks almost always recall their wins, but somehow forget to mention their losses, which are more often than not larger than their wins.
    Surely many recall the monies spent by the City of Albuquerque under the Martin Chavez regime, where much effort (and funds) was spent to brand the city as “Q.” The “Q” effort failed miserably and has been utterly abandoned.

  • Letters to the editor 5-15-15

    Unclear on column health care view

    Merilee Dannemann makes a number of good points in her column on health care, especially that much risk seems to have been transferred to medical practices, but:
    1. While there are always bad apples, my personal experience convinces me that a significant majority of doctors seek to avoid errors and unnecessary procedures because that is good medical care. They do not need a changed incentive of saving money. To suggest otherwise is an uncalled-for insult.
    2. The column is unclear about costs: Average cost per ‘patient’ is about $6,000, while average premium is about $1,500. However, the latter is per subscriber. As long as there are more than four subscribers for every patient, the scheme pays for itself and even provides a profit for the insurer. Does she mean to say that every subscriber is also a patient? Most people are healthy most of the time.
    Terry Goldman
    Los Alamos

    Controlled by the council?

    Around the world, we are fighting an enemy that kills people who disagree with them — sometimes by beheading. They mutilate young girls under the guise of “female circumcision.”

  • Words matter, so use them carefully

    In our public and personal discourse, there are some words that must be used only with the utmost care.
    One is “Nazi.” Another is “slavery.” Both refer to horrific historic chapters in human history that called into question our humanity.
    Unfortunately, we sometimes carelessly inject these words into our conversations in reference to something else entirely. By corrupting the meanings of these words, we disrespect those who suffered under fascism and slavery.
    I read that the Los Alamos Republican Party has recently elected a new leadership team. I was shocked to find in “The Adopted Principles of the Republican Party of Los Alamos” a call for “leaders who will refocus governments on executing their legitimate tasks well instead of enslaving and bankrupting us.”
    Americans rigorously debate the proper scope and function of government at all levels, but this claim that Los Alamos Republicans experience repression akin to what slaves in this country experienced for 250 years goes beyond the boundaries of truth and into the realm of the worst possible hyperbole.

  • Insulting stereotypes, demeaning dialogue can't pass as humor

    After a group of Native American actors walked off the set of “The Ridiculous Six,” now shooting in northern New Mexico, I happened to be at Ghost Ranch for a conference.
    The cast and crew were also at Ghost Ranch, near Abiquiu, but only their trailers were visible.
    Too bad. I would have enjoyed a word or two with them. Instead, I’ll give them 600 words.
    Let me say up front that I’m a fan of Adam Sandler when he’s in movies for grown ups. The rest of the time he makes garbage, which, unfortunately, is what “The Ridiculous Six” is.
    Some Native actors, including Mescalero Apache consultant Bruce Klinekole, took exception to insulting stereotypes, ignorance and disrespect for Native culture.
    Good for them.
    The fact that they objected publicly brought the discussion into an open forum on the Internet and in the media.
    It tells you something that I can’t fully explore all the offensive material because the content is too raunchy for a family newspaper. Indians in the movie are supposedly Apache; in real life Apaches were personally modest and conservative in their behavior. Sandler’s Apache women were named Beaver’s Breath and Wears-No-Bra and one that’s unprintable.

  • Changing face of healthcare

    Whatever you think of Obamacare, the United States healthcare system before Obamacare was a mess.
    Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act, is an attempt to straighten it out. So said Dr. Michael Richards, speaking to the New Mexico Workers’ Compensation Association. Richards is executive physician in chief of University of New Mexico Health Systems — one of the leaders responsible for moving New Mexico’s healthcare system into the new century.
    As Richards spoke, the doctor sitting next to me was muttering. This transformation is going to be hard on doctors, especially those in private practice.
    The problem, as we hear often, is that the United States spends more than twice as much per patient as other advanced countries, but our outcomes are worse, our error rates are among the highest, and alarming numbers of Americans have little or no access to services.
    The ACA addresses three goals, Richards said. These goals conflict with each other, so regulatory processes are needed to keep them in balance.
    First is insurance reform, especially to improve access by abolishing the limits for people with pre-existing conditions. This is good for those patients but it adds cost to an already costly system.

  • Lawmakers worry more about predatory lenders than about borrowers

    Storefront lenders can still charge their low-income borrowers any interest rate they see fit because legislators didn’t fix the problem.
    These companies, called “predatory” by their many critics, are the bottom feeders of banking. They exist because there’s a need.
    A lot of people never have enough money left after expenses to make a deposit and they don’t have credit cards either.
    The term for them is “the unbanked.”
    Storefront lenders make small loans at triple-digit interest rates (or more) to the unbanked. When borrowers can’t repay, lenders roll over the loan and fees and interest spiral.
    Predatory lending is the flawed answer to a problem. Banks and credit unions are practiced in sizing you up to decide if you’re credit worthy before they loan you a dollar and the complaint is usually that they’re too strict.
    Storefront lenders make loans to anybody. There’s the rub.
    As I discovered when I wrote about them recently, storefront lenders don’t care whether you’re credit worthy or not. They expect to get burned on a large number of their loans, so they charge high fees and interest rates. They make their money from the people who do attempt to repay their loans.

  • Regulating shows lack of R&D

    Research and development (R&D) is the good genie that improves every technical tool important to society and business.
    Few tools have more troubling defects than the tools of regulating. We know so by the heated reactions they spark in every interest group.
    Why then is R&D used so little to improve these tools? Our lack of R&D ignores the lush fields of opportunity for improving regulatory tools.
    R&D projects can be mapped to show where they fit with the four distinct steps in the regulatory process, namely, (1) rule-making, (2) permitting, (3) inspection and (4) enforcement.
    Politics and publicity focus on rule-making, which also involves science and engineering. Yet, most of the day-to-day work is in implementation — permitting and inspecting. Here is where many tasks could be done better, faster and cheaper if aided by 21st century technology. Indeed, this is the founding vision of R&D.
    In broad terms, environmental voices are not fond of swift permitting. By the same token, industrial voices are not fond of swift inspection and enforcement.
    Over time, each side tweaks certain parts to make them clumsy. Both sides conclude that a clumsy part is a fair reason to add more unwieldy parts. Both sides and all taxpayers suffer the cost of this contest.

  • Breast cancer can hit cats, too

    Breast cancer is unfortunately prevalent not only among humans, but also in our feline friends.
    Just like with people, mammary cancer is very aggressive in cats, and they have the best chance of survival if caught early.
    “Eighty-five percent of mammary tumors found in cats are malignant, and more that 80 percent will eventually spread to other locations in the body, such as the lymph nodes, lungs, bone and internal organs,” said Dr. Jacqueline Bloch, medical oncology resident at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences.
    It is found that Siamese and domestic shorthair cats are more at risk for mammary tumors.
    “Siamese are especially prone to developing them at a relatively young age,” Bloch said. “The average age is 10 years in other cats.”
    However, it is a risk for any cat to develop a mammary tumor, and like with other cancers, it is important to get a proper diagnosis.
    “Mammary tumors in cats are best diagnosed by a biopsy. This helps us to give prognostic information to the owners as well as diagnosis,” Bloch said. “Sometimes we can obtain diagnosis by a relatively non-invasive needle biopsy.”