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Today's Opinions

  • Opening up primary elections … or not

    There is a good chance that state Sen. Bill O’Neill and state Rep. Emily Kane, both Albuquerque Democrats, will be reelected this fall and soon thereafter find themselves once more at the Roundhouse for another 60-day legislative session.
    Which leaves the rest of us ample time to reflect upon legislation they intend to propose at the 2015 Legislature that would substantially change the nature of primary elections in New Mexico.
    Primary elections were widely adopted by the states in the last century as a way of breaking the stranglehold powerful and often corrupt political bosses had in deciding who would be allowed to run for public offices under the banners of the two major parties.
    It was the reformers’ idea that registered members of those parties should be able to go to the polls in a primary election and decide such matters for themselves. Thus, for decades now in states across the country, registered Democrats and registered Republican pick the candidates who will appear on their general election ballots.
    But times and party registration change. As noted a couple of weeks ago in this column, there are today almost as many registered voters who are neither Republican nor Democratic as there are registered Democrats and Republicans combined.

  • Mission creep in Iraq

    There are several reasons not to intervene militarily in another country’s conflict, even modestly. One is the potential for mission creep.
    We already could detect the signs of mission creep in Iraq. Now, with the stepped-up United States airstrikes after the Islamic State’s horrific execution of American reporter James Foley, the signs are clearer than ever.
    On Aug. 7, President Barack Obama said that the U.S. airstrikes in northern Iraq were to protect Americans from the Islamic State’s threat to the Kurdish city of Erbil, where the U.S. government has a consulate. He also said Americans would be protected anywhere in Iraq, including Baghdad. Finally, he said airstrikes would be part of a humanitarian mission to save “thousands — perhaps tens of thousands” — of Yezidis who were trapped and desperate on Mount Sinjar.
    But in later statements Obama intimated that he had other objectives.

  • Liability, strategy concerns help business owners pick structure

    The form a new business should take isn’t always obvious. Though many self-employed entrepreneurs begin as sole proprietors, an individual can structure her business in many other ways. The best structure is the one that fits her business’s strategy and size and offers the greatest protection from liability and taxes.
    Flying solo
    A sole proprietorship, the simplest business form, is logical for many startups or solo professionals, such as consultants, private investigators, or freelance writers. In a sole proprietorship, the business is not separate from the owner and his business income and losses are included on his personal tax returns.
    A sole proprietor often has little overhead, and personal assets are used in the business. He operates under his own name or creates a “doing business as” moniker. Because the sole proprietor is personally responsible for all his business’s debts and liabilities, he might want to incorporate or become a limited liability company to protect his assets.
    A sole proprietor rarely has to do more than obtain a business license and gross receipts tax number, but his business type might require registration with licensing authorities.
    Choosing partners

  • Signs that your pet needs to see a vet

    Though our pets may pet may dread the veterinarian, there are many instances when a trip to the local animal hospital or clinic is essential to their health. Since Fido can’t express to you in words when he isn’t feeling himself, there are many symptoms you can look out for to help determine if it’s time for a vet visit.   
    “It is most important to remember that everything should be taken within the context of the other signs,” said Dr. Jean Rubanick, veterinary resident instructor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences (CVM). “Basically, if there are multiple signs, then taking a pet to the vet is indicated.”
    Some common signs of irregularity may include extreme lethargy, increased respiratory rate, profuse vomiting or diarrhea, anorexia, or increased drinking and urinating. While these are most widely recognized as indicators for veterinary attention, some symptoms may be more unique and less recognizable.
    “Abnormal circling (not to be confused with the occasional circling of an excited dog), head pressing, seizures, inability to rise, weakness, respiratory distress, changes in the gum color, and bubbles coming from the nose are some other sign to look out for,” Rubanick said.

  • Cut foreign aid, not our military

    The Department of Defense sent out separation notices to 1,200 Army captains, including 48 deployed to Afghanistan. They received eight to nine months of notice so they could prepare for civilian life. What good is the notice for the captains deployed to Iraq for the next eight or nine months? How will this affect their performance in a war zone?
    The next group to get the ax will be majors, and I can only assume this will continue up the line to officers who have not served the 20 years needed to retire and receive their retirement benefits.
    The separations are part of the force reductions necessitated by the sequestration defense cuts. The projected savings in defense spending across all branches of the service will be $3.5 billion over five years.
    Our foreign aid is $37 billion annually. If we cut it by 2 percent, or $0.74 billion per year, we will save $3.7 billion over five years, and not have to cut our military forces. Surely, with some rational thinking, we can squeeze 2 percent out of the foreign aid budget without jeopardizing our interests overseas, which will allow us to maintain our current force levels and enhance our national security.

    Donald A. Moskowitz
    Londonderry, N.H. 

  • Benefit of the doubt

    Like many people, I seem all too willing to criticize people I’ve never met simply because they do something that irritates me. It’s hard not to want to lash out when you interpret someone’s behavior solely from internal feelings rather than considering unknown external factors that may be in play.
    Social psychology theory refers to this tendency as the “fundamental attribution error.”
    For example, when I see someone pushing a baby carriage down the side of the street instead of using the sidewalk, my first inclination is to ask them if they chewed paint chips as a hobby when they were young. I find myself getting mad that someone would risk the safety of a child like that.
    But maybe the parent knows something I don’t know. Maybe the kid is the spawn of Satan and they’re just trying to save us from an apocalypse.
    Of course, some days I think we could really use an apocalypse or two. It would definitely ease congestion on the roads in the morning.

  • A sacred solution for immigrants

    The disagreement between political parties and pundits regarding the undocumented children and moms flooding our southern border can be solved by the one national institution which is united in one principle, that of charity.
    All American churches of all denominations have in common a belief in the brotherhood of man, the belief that we should “do unto others…” love thy neighbor and succor the wounded man who is stranded beside the road.
    These children are refugees fleeing horrible, life-threatening situations. Their legal status fades under necessity of immediate aid. Each church, synagogue and prayer meeting house that has a parish hall, a meeting room, or a pot-luck basement with bathroom facilities can take one mom with two kids, or two unaccompanied children to foster, feed and comfort until their screening and permanent status can be determined.
    Bishops, priests, preachers, rabbis, prayer leaders, can set up “go-and-get-them” systems to gather the refugees, reviving the purpose of the 19th century Orphan Trains or the Underground Railroad. No classrooms need be overcrowded if each church has only one family to enroll.
    If our church leaders can unite in this humanitarian effort, they will see even the smallest congregation come forward to welcome one family with clothes, casseroles and a warm bed.

  • Right-to-work laws askew

    Paul Gessing said “Ed Birnbaum has a lot to say about economic policies …” in Friday’s Los Alamos Monitor, but in fact, my response to his earlier letter did not address economic policy. I only disputed his claim that “right-to-work” laws were not “anti-union.”
    Regarding economic policy however, it should be clear that not everyone agrees with Gessing’s claim that passing right-to-work leads to economic growth (see for example, minyanville.com/business-news/editors-pick/articles/michigan-right-to-work-paul-krugman/12/11/2012/id/46587, for a detailed discussion). Readers can decide for themselves whether the statistics used by proponents of right-to-work are valid or not.
    More importantly, what does it say about a company that makes a decision on where to locate based on whether, or not a state has a right-to-work law?
    This says to me that the company owners are assuming they will be able to pay their workers a lower wage and have more control over their employees, because in right-to-work states, unions have less power to bargain on behalf of their members.
    So the goal of such a company is to pay the lowest wages possible, which is why efforts to pass right-to-work legislation go hand-in-hand with resistance to raising the minimum wage.