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Today's Opinions

  • Remembering James B. Edwards

    Editor’s note: This column first appeared at “The American Spectator.”

    On the morning after Christmas, James B. Edwards passed away. Few Americans under the age of 40 — unless they are South Carolinians — had probably never heard of Jim.
    Here’s the official biography: James B. Edwards was President Ronald Reagan’s original Secretary of Energy. At the age of 17, in 1944, Jim joined the U.S. Maritime Service to serve his country during World War II. Several years later, while still a Navy Reserve officer, he became an oral surgeon.
    In the mid-1960s, concerned about the direction of our country, he got involved in politics, first behind the scenes, then serving a term in the South Carolina State Senate. He surprised the experts in 1974 by becoming the first Republican governor of South Carolina since Reconstruction.
    Limited to one four-year term by the state constitution, Jim worked to promote the presidential candidacy of Ronald Reagan. After Reagan’s election in 1980, he tapped the oral surgeon from South Carolina to be his Secretary of Energy with the mission of shutting down the Department of Energy.

  • These boots are made for walking

    Who would have thought that Nancy Sinatra and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker would have a common area of political doctrine, one whose metaphysical ideology would be based on boots?
    As Nancy so poetically belted out, boots are made for walking. And Governor Walker wants those boots to walk all over you.
    With the 2016 presidential race on his plate, Scotty took to the stump to proclaim his “patriotic willingness to put boots on the ground” in Syria. It was a tough choice, but since it wouldn’t be his feet in those boots, he consented to the possibility of committing to ground warfare with ISIS.
    He must be a “Star Trek” fan. The Ferengi Rule of Acquisition No. 34 is “War is good for business.”
    I suppose his decision was based on his training received when he earned his master’s degree, a claim he made in a recent interview.
    Don’t bother looking it up. He doesn’t have a master’s degree. In fact, he doesn’t have a bachelor’s degree either. He dropped out of college.
    Nor does he have any military experience, at least not outside video games he might have played in an arcade.
    Beam yourself up, Scotty! The people on this planet aren’t stupid enough to believe your lies.

  • Young adults are target of entrepreneurial initiative

    A frequent lament of New Mexico’s business community is the loss of brainpower and energy that results when young people move out of state to pursue economic opportunities they can’t find at home.
    This exodus isn’t unique to New Mexico and, by itself, isn’t cause for alarm. No matter where they live, young people almost always leave their home state after completing their schooling or training, even if they obtained that education tuition-free at New Mexico universities.
    Exploring the larger world and all its offerings helps young adults mature into self-aware global citizens — an asset to any community they choose to settle in.
    What most concerns economic-development advocates is how to make New Mexico that destination of choice for our dispersed millennials — the generation now in its 20s and 30s.
    The High Desert Discovery District (HD3) — the first private, nonprofit high-tech startup accelerator in New Mexico — is dedicated to cultivating a climate of innovation and possibility that entices young professionals and entrepreneurs to return to the state and contribute to its economic prosperity.

  • Public land sales meet with strong resistance

    The push for state takeover of federal land provoked a big push back. Last week, the roar of hundreds of angry hunters, anglers and others filled the Capitol Rotunda and sent me scampering out of the press gallery to see what was going on.
    A standing-room-only crowd of camo-wearing folks rallied to say they won’t stand for the loss of one acre.
    “I don’t want to see any public land sold,” said a gun-store owner, to loud cheering. “I also have an issue of wasted money for studies other states have already done.”
    They wore stickers saying, “Keep your hands off MY public lands.”
    The source of all this excitement is Senate Memorial 6 by Sen. Pat Woods, R-Broadview, which asks the state to study federal land management and ownership and evaluate the impacts of federal revenue streams on the state and local communities. Reportedly, Rep. Yvette Herrell, R-Alamogordo, plans to introduce a similar measure.
    Last year, counties received $37.7 million in federal payments in lieu of taxes (PILT), and the state received $9.5 million from the Secure Rural Schools program.

  • Governor perpetuating false information about RTW legislation

    As I watch this year’s legislative session, I am concerned with the misinformed claims made by Republican Governor Susana Martinez that have made Right-to-Work/anti-worker legislation her top priority.  
    When I think of all the issues we face here in our state in building a healthy economy I am appalled that the governor will be attacking our working families.
    When the governor says Right-to-Work (RTW) is one of several hurdles New Mexico faces in attempting to become more economically competitive with neighboring states she couldn’t be more wrong. Talent and the cost of doing business are more important when factoring whether or not a company will do business in New Mexico or anywhere else in the United States. Businesses look to see what a state has to offer them and the families they will bring with them when they come.
    Businesses look at the labor market and how well the labor force is trained before committing to bringing their business to a site.

  • Departures from New Mexico way up

    We got smaller last year.
    Wouldn’t it be nice if the statement introduced a celebration of statewide weight loss? Not exactly, though our total weight may have been less on July 1, 2014, than a year earlier. Any weight loss would be because there were fewer people in the state, 1,540 to be exact.
    Specifically, the Census Bureau estimates that New Mexico lost 1,540 people (or 0.06 percent) during the 2013-14 year. The estimates were released Dec. 23.
    Six states presented similar attractiveness to the their population. On a percentage basis, four outperformed us: West Virginia (-0.18 percent); Illinois (-0.08 percent); Connecticut and Alaska (both -0.07 percent).
    This single population performance number reflects four elements: births, deaths, people moving internationally and people moving from state to state.
    Statistically, births and deaths are simple. Each event generates a piece of paper, a certificate. These are filed with the state and counted, accurately, one presumes.
    About 16,500 New Mexicans die each year, a figure that grows a few hundred each year, based on the past four years. The number of births, around 27,000 annually, declines about 500 each year.
    Necessarily, the number of people moving must be estimated. Techniques are well established. An estimated number really occupies a range.

  • Global study offers path for literacy improvements

    A first-time global financial literacy study shows that the keys to successful personal finance education are student perseverance and an openness to problem solving.  
    That’s one of the main findings in the inaugural financial literacy portion of the Program of International Student Assessment (PISA) test, which evaluated the skills and knowledge of 29,000 15-year-olds in 18 countries and economies in 2012.
    Final results were released in September, and PISA officials announced that the assessment of financial literacy will be offered as an optional component in 2015 testing.
    PISA was launched in 2000 by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which promote policies that support economic and social well-being around the world.
    U.S. students earned an average score of 492 out of a possible 700, which ranks those teens between eighth and 12th place among all 18 participating countries and economies, according to the PISA study.
    Other findings from the U.S. results:

  • Tijerina the Tiger

    The death of Reies Lopez Tijerina in an El Paso hospital late last month occasioned a good deal of comment and commentary.
    Tijerina invited comment and commentary, even sought it.
    His main claim to fame occurred almost a half century ago when he and a band of followers stormed the Rio Arriba County Courthouse in Tierra Amarilla, wounding a jailer and police officer and taking a reporter and the sheriff hostage.
    It was a big deal. “Tijerina’s Rio Arriba Court House raid,” it came to be called, and he ended up spending a couple of years in federal prison. But that was sometime later and unrelated to his Court House rampage.
    Tijerina and his fellow raiders initially got away by escaping into nearby Kit Carson National Forest. His grievance was the injustice he considered New Mexico’s original Hispanic settlers to have experienced when their land grants were abrogated or outright taken from them.
    It made him quite a celebrity, even something of a hero to many young Hispanic and Latino activists who seized upon the land grant issue and made it “a cause celebre.”
    This was in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when ferment and activism was abroad in the land.