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Today's Opinions

  • Economic developers need vision, new energy


    Economic development” gets much conversation in the policy realm. Occasions range from chamber of commerce meetings to political campaigns and legislative hearings.
    But what, really, is all that conversation about? The perspective here comes from years of hanging out with economic developers and listening to the economic policy conversations.
    To do economic development is to meddle with an economy, be it a community, a county or region or even a state.
    Those of us tilting against meddling on the grounds that freedom, choice and competition provide better results are correct, but perhaps irrelevant.
    Conservatives meddle.
    The example as I write comes from all but one of the potential Republican presidential candidates swearing fealty to the ethanol industry in Iowa. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz provided the exception.
    When properly and narrowly defined, the idea of economic development is to add organizations to what is called the “basic” economy of the area. The organization can be private or public.
    Only when there appears the possibility of a government organization adding itself to a community is the acceptability of a government organization admitted.

  • Why this Catholic physician supports medical aid in dying

    Inspired by the public advocacy of terminal brain cancer patient Brittany Maynard, lawmaker in Washington, D.C., and at least 16 other states — from California to New York — have introduced bills that would authorize the medical option of aid in dying.
    This legislation would allow mentally competent, terminally ill adults in the final stages of their disease the option to request a doctor’s prescription for aid-in-dying medication that they could choose to take it if their suffering becomes unbearable.
    As a Catholic and a physician, I feel compelled to dispel the myths about these bills perpetrated by the Roman Catholic Church, some disability groups, and the American Medical Association (AMA).
    The Oregon law that is the model for this legislation has a stellar 17-year track record, with no scientifically documented cases of abuse or coercion. Dying adults who go through the lengthy process of obtaining the medication in Oregon hold onto it for weeks or months, as Brittany did, before taking it, if they take it at all.

  • Businesses have stake in enhanced credit card security

    Major credit card processors are imposing tougher security measures on credit card issuers in the industry’s ongoing efforts to combat credit card fraud.
    These global standards — called EMV for Europay, MasterCard and Visa, the companies collaborating on the new system — include embedding computer chips into “smart” credit cards that offer greater security for point of sale (POS) transactions than the magnetic strips on traditional credit cards.
    Many chip-embedded cards require a personal identification number (PIN) instead of a signature to complete the POS transaction and close the security loop; these “chip-and-PIN” cards are the norm around the world, though they’ve been slow to catch on in the United States.
    One incentive for the changeover is the soaring cost of fraud. According to the payment industry’s Nilson Report, credit card fraud cost banks and merchants more than $5 billion in the U.S. alone in 2012. By contrast, credit card fraud in face-to-face sales has dropped dramatically in countries around the world that have adopted the new technology.
    Deadline looms

  • How the Supreme Court should decide the same-sex union cases

    The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear four cases involving the issue of same-sex unions. These cases come from the Sixth Circuit where the U.S. Appeals Court had earlier upheld Michigan’s definition of marriage as limited to one man and one woman. That decision (DeBoer v. Snyder) created what is called a “conflict among the Circuits” and forced the Supreme Court to address the issue.
    The court will be likely to issue a decision in June 2015 with arguments in April.
    There are two questions that the court has agreed to take up. Does the 14th Amendment require a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex?
    Secondly, does that same Amendment “require a state to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state?”
    How should the Supreme Court decide these cases? Specifically, the justices should reject the recent rash of federal court decisions that have, for the time being, forced same-sex marriage on the citizens of 31 states who had democratically chosen to define marriage as between one man and one woman.

  • Why ask, ask why?

    There’s a classic story about a philosophy professor who presented the students with a test asking a single question — “Why?” As the story goes, the only person who received an ‘A’ was a student who submitted the answer, “Because.” Another version of the story has the student answering “Why not?”
    The story is of course an academic myth, an allegory promulgated on the premise that philosophy defines its own worth and that the value of questioning the questions is itself in question. Myth or not, the story does underscore a related question that merits answering — “Why ask why?”
    Why should anyone seek an answer if there is no obvious value to having the answer other than simply to have it?
    Why is the sky blue and the sunset red? Why does a refrigerator get cold? Why does a stick of butter float in water? Why you should never mix bleach and ammonia?
    If curiosity killed the cat, does a cat that never questions anything live longer? Why are people so willing to accept what they’re told and not ask why?
    If we stick our heads in the sand and cannot see the things we fear, are we safer? If ignorance is bliss, you would think that this world should be a much happier place.

  • Pet Talk: Education about Lyme disease

    Lyme disease, a common tick-borne disease in humans, can be contracted by our canine companions as well. The disease, which is caused by a spirochete bacterium, Borrelia burgdorferi, can often be difficult to diagnose.
    “Hard-shelled ticks of the genus Ixodes transmit Borrelia burgdorferi,” said Dr. Carly Duff, veterinary resident at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. “The tick attaches to its host, and then as the tick is feeding, spirochete bacteria migrate onto the host.”
    Clinical signs in canine patients may include fever, enlarged lymph nodes, a lack of appetite, and lethargy. Others may develop acute lameness as a result of joint inflammation, which lasts for a few days before returning days later, not necessarily in the same leg. This is known as “shifting-leg lameness.” More serious complications can include kidney damage and heart or central nervous system abnormalities in rare cases.
    Fortunately, your dog’s disease does not put you or your family at risk. “Dogs do not appear to be a source for infection in humans,” Duff said, “because they do not excrete infectious organisms in their bodily fluids to any appreciable extent.”

  • Rule against logrolling separates N.M. Legislature from Congress

    I checked my New Mexico Constitution the other day, and the provision is right there where I left it: Article IV, Section 16, “Subject of bill in title; appropriation bills.”
    “The subject of every bill shall be clearly expressed in its title, and no bill embracing more than one subject shall be passed except general appropriation bills and bills for the codification or revision of the laws; but if any subject is embraced in any act which is not expressed in its title, only so much of the act as is not so expressed shall be void....”
    This is called the single-subject provision. I wrote about it a couple of years ago, pointing out how nasty it is when Congress violates this principle and what a relief it is that New Mexico, along with 41 other states, has a single-subject requirement.
    Congress regularly sticks multiple unrelated subjects into the same bill, so members have to vote for the part they disagree with in order to support the part they agree with. How many bills have come out of the U.S. House of Representatives that include something about undoing the Affordable Care Act, for example?  
    The House of Representatives was barely able to pass a bill funding the Homeland Security Department for more than a week because some members insisted on holding the funding hostage to extraneous provisions.

  • Involving kids in family vacation planning

    Family vacations produce memories for a lifetime, but they can also teach kids great money lessons they’ll need as adults.
    Involving kids in planning family vacations not only helps them appreciate the overall benefits of travel, but offers an opportunity for even the youngest kids to learn lessons about budgeting, saving and essential money management they will encounter every day.
    If you have trouble tearing your kids away from their smartphones, you might be in luck. The technology kids use can be very effective in budgeting, pricing and planning travel. Surfing travel destinations can teach kids a great deal about what travel really costs.
    The first step in planning the family vacation should be creating a budget for the trip. Set a realistic dollar limit for the trip and bΩe prepared to discuss why that limit exists. For example, if there is a home renovation project scheduled that particular year, explain how that affects the overall family budget and the resources for the trip. It’s an important lesson in balancing fun and family priorities.