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Today's Opinions

  • Smooze financiers now

    Tight credit markets of the past few years have made it difficult for business owners to obtain loans to expand their businesses.
    Getting a loan is still as hard as ever, even though most financial institutions have plenty of capital to lend.
    With the interest rate charged banks by the Federal Reserve Bank at almost zero, it’s surprising so little capital is moving around.  
    Loans, as a percentage of deposits, are very low.
    Credit will loosen eventually because banks can’t survive long-term without making loans.
    Stung by losses when loans defaulted, banks are understandably more conservative; but they need interest revenue from loans to grow.

  • Critics of education consultants need to get a life

    First impressions of Hanna Skandera, public education secretary designate: smart, articulate, poised, confident and supportive of her staff.
    “The Public Education Department and the employees who have been (through six months of big change) have been remarkable,” Skandera told the Legislative Education Study Committee (LESC) July 25.
    My time at the meeting was brief, only an hour, because family business intruded. I went because of the opportunity to see Skandera in action and the chance to learn. Education jargon always impedes learning about education.
    I think it’s some kind of cultural conspiracy against parents and citizens. More exposure, I figure, might bring more understanding.

  • Give reforms a chance

    Should we be more concerned that 87 percent of our public schools didn’t make Adequate Yearly Progress or that Democrats are still nitpicking Secretary of Education-designate Hanna Skandera?
    I’d say the AYP scores are the least of our worries. It’s apparent by now that this yardstick of the federal No Child Left Behind Act is inherently unfair and unhelpful.
    We also know that half our kids can’t read and 60 percent struggle with math. That’s why Gov. Susana Martinez plucked a veteran of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s education team to replicate Florida’s success here.

  • Paying for cheaters

    The Social Security expert was among friends and in a mood to be candid.
    People who are disabled and unable to work, or who believe they are, can apply for Social Security disability benefits of lifetime income and medical coverage through Medicare.
    Typically, applicants are turned down on their first try, so they hire a lawyer and go to a hearing.
    That’s why you see so many ads on TV for Social Security lawyers.
    Social Security judges hear those cases. The claimant, says this expert, usually has an attorney, but there is no opposing counsel for the government.
    There is — no lawyer to advance any argument for why this person is not entitled to disability benefits.

  • Twin troubles awaken new politics

    Should we worry about the national debt? Is it wise not to cut down a mountainside full of trees to meet current needs?
    The questions together are a curious pair. Or more to the point, how curious that we never hear the questions asked together.       
    They are but two forms of the same question: How do we husband assets so as to maintain capabilities for those who come later?              
    Mull on it. The fields of economics and ecology are more the same than different. They are chapters in the same book.

  • Grant expands state’s education success

     When Taos-based Imagine Education received a Next Generation Learning Challenge Grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates and William and Flora Hewlett foundations this summer, the award was not just a triumph for middle-school students struggling to learn math.
    It also marked an achievement for the New Mexico programs that grow the state’s economy by helping small New Mexico businesses.
    Imagine Education’s founders credit economic development initiatives with helping them win the grant, one of 19 awarded nationwide for innovations in teaching literacy and mathematics. The grant will allow Imagine Education to pilot its educational math game, Ko’s Journey, in 10 middle schools nationwide.
    A business built on needs

  • Show more respect

    Natural gas doesn’t get enough respect.
    Two reports – one on last winter’s outage and another on the future of natural gas – make that clear.
    This month independent investigator Michael Johnson verified that February’s natural gas outage, which left 28,707 customers without heat during an arctic blast, unfolded the way New Mexico Gas Company said it did.  Fancy that.
    The company said at the time that freeze-outs in the Permian and San Juan natural gas basins, combined with rolling blackouts in Texas, kept producers and processing plants from delivering gas into pipelines and allowed pressure in the system to fall.

  • State leads in public payroll: Huge pension increase looms

    To fully fund New Mexico’s public sector pension obligations, both state and local, within 30 years will require an immediate tax increase of $1,756 per household per year.
    That puts us ninth nationally in what might be called the ranking of how well states have ignored their pension obligations. That statement is a little overly nasty.
    The Legislative Finance Committee and others have a fair record of raising the issue over the past few years. But the accomplishment is little.
    Five states will have to cough up more than $2,000 per household per year. They are, in order, New Jersey, the champ at $2,475; New York; Oregon; Wyoming; and Ohio.