Today's Opinions

  • Letters to the Editor 1-12-18

    Contrast between Sunday columns are amusing,

    Dear Editor,
    The contrast between the two columns and one letter on the Los Alamos Monitor Sunday Editorial page was both amusing and disturbing.
    As usual, John Bartlit presented an even-handed/minded analysis of the football-and-the-flag controversy, recognizing that the breadth of responses is a testament to the vitality of our democracy. My own thinking had been limited to: “Standing shows respect while kneeling shows obeisance or committed fealty – the latter choice of action doesn’t seem to match with the stated purpose for it.”
    Meanwhile, Paul Gessing continued to display what appears as barely-thinking partisanship against anything Democratic despite acknowledging that it was a Democratic governor who lowered income taxes – too much for stable state funding, as subsequent events have demonstrated.
    I still consider it a miracle that the State Permanent Fund maintains a legacy for indefinite generations of New Mexicans rather than being siphoned off to immediate political needs. (And by the way, doubling the gas tax would not be a tax increase – it would only restore the purchasing power of the tax to about the level of almost 30 years ago.)

  • Coalition uses data to analyze criminal justice

    By Finance New Mexico 

    For years I have wondered whether our criminal justice system makes sense. 

    I think first about my own safety. Does our system make me safer? Does it prevent crime? Does it make prudent use of my tax dollars? Is it pragmatic?

    Then I think about fairness and justice. Does our system teach criminals the lesson that will prevent them from committing crimes again? Does it prevent others from committing crimes? Do tougher penalties deter criminals from offending again? What is the system doing to prepare them for when they get out?

    I want data. Rather than being driven by emotions, either of compassion or retribution, I’d like to know what actually works.

    A group called NMSAFE (nmsafe.org) has done some of this homework. 

  • Letters to the Editor 1-7-18

    County in deep fiscal trouble

    Dear Editor,
    Unfortunately Mr. Pete Sheehey seems to have a gross misunderstanding of the shape of LA County fiscally. We are in deep trouble running a debt twice the legal limit and on top of that at least $71 million in the red!

    This is all available for anyone to read on the county website in the last audit done after the fiscal year 2016 ended. As it’s rather hard to find and it’s a rather long report mostly taken from figures the county supplied and broken down into small sections it can be tedious reading and hard to put together.

    You find it by going to Los Alamos County Administrative Services, Finance and Budgets, Reports and Budgets button, Fiscal Year Reports and Budgets,

    Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports, Incorporated County of Los Alamos FY2016 CAFR button.

    On page 196 you see the summation of debts and on pages 179 and 180 the summations of all available moneys including reserves and all moneys spent.

    The bottom line is Los Alamos County is broke and bankrupt  to the tune of over $100 million!

    Greg White
    Los Alamos

  • Legislative session a prelude to November

    President, Rio Grande Foundation

    With tax reform taken off the agenda by New Mexico’s Democrat legislative leaders, it is clear that the 30 day session will be more about going through the motions and positioning for 2018 than about considering much-needed economic reforms. This is unfortunate because in spite of higher oil prices, New Mexico remains mired in an economic slump.

    The unemployment rate remains elevated at 6.1 percent (second-highest in the nation) and as Bruce Krasnow reported recently in the New Mexican, “the state is in the midst of its slowest population growth since statehood – and that is not likely to change.”

    One would think that given these (and many other problems) that the Legislature would be on a mission to enact as many needed reforms as possible in the coming short 30 day session. Unfortunately, the list of reforms that won’t happen is much longer than those that might be considered. Here’s a few that the Rio Grande Foundation has put forth over the years that are “off the table.”

    Aforementioned revenue-neutral reform of the gross receipts tax;

    Adoption of “Right to Work” to allow workers to choose whether to join a union or pay union dues;

  • Footballers shun ‘correctness’ and build ideas to fill the gap

    “Political correctness”(“P.C.”) is an infection that eats away the vitality of our democracy. The ills have spread far. Symptoms get worse while being ignored.

    A debate today about the national harms of political correctness is a debate between two afflicted organs – P.C. in the camp of the left and P.C. in the camp of the right.

    The habits of P.C. weaken discourse, which if left to fester, kills ideas. The two parties and their boosters talk less than before about policy work in Congress. Instead of crafting policy, more skills go into heckling the enemy party and its bad breed of supporters. Our times have lapsed into a rite of political correctness.

    The top news fare pulls P.C. camps toward the far poles. But, look twice. See ideas find other ideas to fill the gap between the poles. Stay alert to signs of both.

    Exhibit A: football players kneeling during the singing of the national anthem. There began a string of stories. In 2016, a mixed-race quarterback in the National Football League began kneeling during the national anthem to protest some facet(s) of race relations, as he saw it, in the U.S. The action drew some support and more players took similar steps.

    Fans took sides for and against.

  • Save for the lean years  

    Guest Editorial

    Recently, one of my patients told me, “They should have saved for the lean years” as we discussed the possible change in LANL management and GRT revenues. She was referring to the Biblical account of Joseph and his rise to power from slavery.

    Pharaoh dreamed of  seven fat cows, devoured by seven starving cows. Then he dreamed of seven ripe, healthy sheaves of wheat, devoured by seven dead, dry ones.   Joseph correctly predicted the meaning of the Pharaoh’s dreams.

    “Immediately ahead are seven years of great abundance in all the land of Egypt. After them will come seven years of famine and all the abundance in the land of Egypt will be forgotten. As the land is ravaged by famine, no trace of the abundance will be left in the land…And let Pharoah take steps to appoint overseers over the land, and organize by taking a fifth part of the land’s produce in the seven years of plenty....Let that food be a reserve for the land for the seven years of famine which will come upon the land of Egypt, so that the land may not perish in the famine.”

    The principle is simple: save during the plenteous years to be ready for the lean years.

  • Time to ask: ‘How is UNM athletics paying for itself and helping the university?’

     In 2017, the University of New Mexico got itself a new president, a new athletic director and a new athletic financial officer. They have their work cut out.

    UNM athletics is such a mess that former State Auditor Tim Keller called the athletics department and its fundraising arms “an ungovernable ball of organizations.” A special audit noted nearly $700,000 in missing revenues, perks for insiders, mixing of public and private money, and years of blown budgets.

    What other college sports program has drawn its own investigative journalist and a website devoted to its excesses? For about a year, Daniel Libit and his “NM Fishbowl,” instead of the usual fawning Lobo coverage, has scrutinized the program and demanded accountability. Now Libit, turning to other pursuits, calls on New Mexico journalists to stop acting like stenographers and step up to the plate. College sports should be covered like a public institution and not entertainment, he told the online NM Political Report. Students and taxpayers should hold the department to higher standards.

  • Nobody gains by hiding the truth

    The Washington Post published this editorial on the Department of Health and Human services instructing some of its divisions to avoid certain words or phrases in official documents that are being drafted for next year’s budget:

    Words are power. Whether used to twist or reveal, language matters, especially that used by the people who govern a nation devoted to free speech. This is why it was such a shock to hear the Department of Health and Human Services instruct some of its divisions, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to avoid using certain words or phrases in official documents being drafted for next year’s budget. It sounds like thought police at work.

    If that judgment seems harsh, consider what happens in China, where thought police really exist. China routinely censors articles containing politically sensitive words such as “Taiwan,” ‘’Tibet” and “cultural revolution” from publications because it does not want its people to think about them. Writing about democracy could lead to trouble in Belarus, Cuba or Vietnam, too. In Russia, words that refer to gays positively can trigger a penalty. In Saudi Arabia, a blogger, Raif Badawi, sits in jail for his online appeal for a more liberal and secular society.