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Today's Opinions

  • Negative interest rates can be a brilliant concept

    I have to admit that initially I was uninterested, even close-minded, about the negative yield being offered on a growing share of European sovereign debt.
    “It must be a short-term aberration,” I thought at first. “Completely nutso,” I sniffed dismissively as the phenomenon spread. “Who in their right mind would invest in a financial instrument that would guarantee a loss of principal?”
    Upon calmer reflection, I would shrug and think, “Well, to each his own, but none of those topsy-turvy debt instruments for me.”
    More recently, I have taken a more tolerant attitude toward negative-yield debt. As I teach my Econ 101 students, the key to success in the economic marketplace is to set aside your own preconceptions and preferences and to acknowledge that the consumer is always right.
    In fact, the more I think about it, I find myself attracted to the idea of offering such a service to satisfy this unfathomable consumer appetite for negative yields. Maybe I should announce that anybody out there who would like to send me money on the condition that I return less than all of it to them in the future is free to do so (as long as they include payment for any incidental transaction costs). From that perspective, negative interest rates are quite ingenious.

  • DOT: Fixing N.M. roads is a matter of policy

    White poles frame the lanes of N.M. 279 at its intersection with N.M. 124 just north of Laguna and form a cluster.
    For the first-time observer, the white hilltop cluster is odd: “What in the world is that?” Turn north on 279 and the purpose — if not the rationale — becomes evident. The poles channel traffic, such as it is, through the intersection.
    Our years long, nine-figure difference between what ought to be done maintaining and building highways and the money available, as defined by the state Department of Transportation, must be a matter of policy. It has continued so long that it must be on purpose.
    Just kidding. I hope.
    Within the policy, some things stand out — the ghostly cluster, for example.
    One doesn’t just build a road. My sample of the materials from a Transportation Commission meeting is a five-eighths-inch thick book.
    Examples of work DOT likes appear in the department’s annual report. While the project descriptions are all happy news, some interesting hints slide in. The 2013 report’s description of rebuilding the I-10/I-25 interchange south of Las Cruces mentions reconstruction of two bridges “to meet current design standards.”

  • Thank you to community

    Great community
    outcome for Earth Day

    On behalf of the Pajarito Environmental Education Center and as chairperson for the Earth Day Festival at the new Nature Center, I would like to thank the committee, the many volunteers, the staff, the community and the weather for making our Earth Day Festival a wonderful celebration. Fit in amongst the moving, settling and opening of the Los Alamos Nature Center was planning for the celebration of our planet Earth.
    The committee included volunteers and staff of PEEC, the Los Alamos Co-Op Market, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Bradbury Science Museum, and University of New Mexico-Los Alamos. Although we have sponsored an Earth Day Festival for 15 years, this was a new place, which presented new challenges. Each contributor’s ideas and dedication were greatly appreciated.
    Our sponsors included Los Alamos National Bank, LANL, Atomic City Transit, UNM-LA, the Los Alamos Monitor, the Los Alamos County Environmental Sciences and Los Alamos Mainstreet. We could not have done it without their support.
    We would especially like to thank Kristin Henderson, chairperson of the County Council, who took time to be our Master of Ceremonies.

  • Will N.M.’s economy get $260 million-plus boost?

    Back in early April, Lt. Gov. John Sanchez found himself in Roswell speaking to the Chaves County Republican Party’s annual dinner.
    It’s the sort of thing lieutenant governors do, part of the unofficial job description that goes with the position: If the governor can’t or doesn’t wish to make a speech before a group of local party leaders, send the lieutenant governor.
    Normally news coverage of such appearances goes largely unreported except, perhaps, by the local newspaper. In this case, however, after the lieutenant governor made it known to Chaves County’s top Republicans that “pressure is growing for a special session of the Legislature,” the story made a good deal of news.
    Naturally the Roswell Daily Record picked it up, but so did numerous other New Mexico papers and statewide TV newscasts. It even showed up in the conservative Washington Times back in the nation’s capital.
    Which makes a certain amount sense, inasmuch as only a few days earlier Gov. Susanna Martinez made it abundantly clear that she wasn’t keen on a special session. Mixed signals coming out of any governor’s administration make headlines.

  • Blatant showing of incompetence

    Dr. Gary Welton has clearly demonstrated that he has indeed set a very low bar for his children to exceed him. His complete failure to understand statistics is displayed by referring to no less than three differences of less than one standard deviation as if they were statistically significant.
    That all three have the same sign may indicate something, but not much.
    Do we need to have such incompetence presented in the local paper of ‘science city?’

    Terry Goldman
    Los Alamos

  • Proposed Los Alamos bag ban bad for environment and freedom

    Los Alamos County Commission is now considering banning plastic grocery bags.
    More than 200 municipalities in the United States, including two in New Mexico — Santa Fe and Silver City — have banned the distribution of lightweight plastic shopping bags.
    Proponents of bag bans, specifically the Sierra Club, claim they will reduce litter and protect the marine environment, diminish our consumption of resources and emissions of greenhouse gases, reduce waste and save taxpayers’ money.
    Unfortunately, the supposed environmental benefits of banning plastic bags evaporate upon closer examination.
    For starters, authoritative studies show that plastic bags constitute less than 1 percent of visible litter in U.S. cities.
    Litter is never a good thing, but the right way to reduce it is to through education — not to simply ban plastic bags.
    Members of some pressure groups claim that plastic bags kill large numbers of marine animals. Even for bags distributed in coastal cities, that claim is simply false.
    As David Santillo, a senior biologist with Greenpeace, told The Times of London: “It’s very unlikely that many animals are killed by plastic bags. The evidence shows just the opposite … on a global basis, plastic bags aren’t an issue.”

  • Sierra Club talking points get debunked

    Here are how some Sierra Club talking points being debunked:
    Talking Point: Plastic bags last forever in the landfills.
    Debunking: Everything lasts forever in the landfills we use. They are designed to keep what’s put there as stable as possible to reduce the chance of nasty stuff oozing into the environment.
    TP: Re-usable bags are friendlier to the environment.
    D: If you consider the entire lifecycle of these bags, the re-usable bags are worse for the environment. Most of them are made in China with dirtier energy and no restrictions on what waste products are allowed back into the environment. Most of the plastic shopping bags currently offered at checkout are made in the U.S.A. with much cleaner energy and high standards for waste product disposal. Banning plastic shopping bags eliminates more United States jobs and contributes toward polluting the environment.
    TP: Paper bags are better because they’re recyclable and biodegradable.

  • Great expectations for ourselves and our children

    “If your children are no better than you are, you have fathered them in vain, indeed you have lived in vain,” according to Alexander Solzhenitsyn in “Cancer Ward.”
    Actually, I am not satisfied merely if my children are better than I am, for I have set that bar rather low. At the very least, my goal is that my children will be above average, better than their peers.
    I am not speaking of academic ability. We are drowning in evidence of academic strengths and weaknesses, based on required standardized testing.
    Instead, I am thinking of positive youth development, sometimes referred to as character development.
    Do people view me as a man of integrity? Do people view my children as people of integrity? Are they contributing members of society, in their families, at the workplace, and in their churches?
    Psychology is not as accurate when it comes to measuring positive youth development. It is a more subjective domain — the evidence is easier to misinterpret and exaggerate.
    A large amount of research in psychology is based on survey data, in which people describe themselves.