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Today's Opinions

  • Thank you: Efforts at arts fair appreciated

    The hard work of many dedicated volunteers resulted in a successful Northern New Mexico Spring Arts and Crafts Fair. It was a fantastic spring day with nice weather, although storm clouds lingered in the area. People had the opportunity to visit with friends and mingle among the booths. The art classes from Los Alamos schools had its work on display inside Fuller Lodge showcasing the many talented students in our school district.
    The fair benefited from the efforts of RSVP members who posted flyers around Los Alamos before the fair. We also wish to thank Los Alamos County Parks Department for mowing and trimming the grounds around Fuller Lodge, as well as cleaning up trash during the fair. Many people commented about how nice the area looked for the fair. It truly was beautiful.
    As always, a big thank you goes to our board members and volunteers who spent many hours in preparation, as well as time staffing the fair. This includes Emily Mercer and Irene Kwon from LAHS National Honor Society, volunteers Bill Hamilton, Lisa Lloyd, Tadg Woods, Michael Donnelly, Mitch Pfaff and Adam Joseph. The Arts Council appreciates the time you give to our organization.

  • Words matter, so use them carefully

    In our public and personal discourse, there are some words that must be used only with the utmost care.
    One is “Nazi.” Another is “slavery.” Both refer to horrific historic chapters in human history that called into question our humanity.
    Unfortunately, we sometimes carelessly inject these words into our conversations in reference to something else entirely. By corrupting the meanings of these words, we disrespect those who suffered under fascism and slavery.
    I read that the Los Alamos Republican Party has recently elected a new leadership team. I was shocked to find in “The Adopted Principles of the Republican Party of Los Alamos” a call for “leaders who will refocus governments on executing their legitimate tasks well instead of enslaving and bankrupting us.”
    Americans rigorously debate the proper scope and function of government at all levels, but this claim that Los Alamos Republicans experience repression akin to what slaves in this country experienced for 250 years goes beyond the boundaries of truth and into the realm of the worst possible hyperbole.

  • Are we getting enough civics in public schools?

    The column by Cal Thomas in Wednesday’s April 22 edition of the Albuquerque Journal highlights a growing problem with our citizenry in understanding and living with our form of government.
    Civics is no longer a must for public school students. In the 1940s, civics was a semester course in New Mexico. Somewhere along the line civics as a discrete separate course was dropped and the topic was meshed with social studies where one-thirteenth of it was incorporated in each class from kindergarten through 12th grade (see New Mexico Public Education Department social studies teaching standards).
    Jay Leno’s popular program segment, “Jay Walking,” Interviewed people on the street about government and current affairs. They could not identify civic office holders nor could they define pieces of the Constitution or government processes.
    Similar instances were cited by Thomas in his article. One wonders why some people go to the polls. I am sure that most people who voted for a recent constitutional amendment did not understand what they were voting for.

  • Boy Scouts ready to accept donations for food drive

    Dear Residents of Los Alamos County:
    Local Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts and Venture Scouts are prepared to help the Letter Carriers and LA Cares to collect, sort and store your donations of food and supplies during the 23rd annual National Food Drive on Saturday. The event is sponsored by the Letter Carriers. All we need is your help to “Stamp Out Hunger.”
    It may be surprisingly to learn that even in our well-off community there are dozens of families, many with young children or elderly, who need help, in addition to those in our neighboring communities. In fact, one in six Americans struggle to get enough to eat. So what can you do to help?
    Go to your pantry and fill a grocery bag (double it for strength) or a box with non-perishable food and other necessities. Then on Saturday morning place it near your mailbox and soon your Letter Carrier, a Boy Scout or an adult leader will pick it up and take it to be sorted, stored and distributed by LA Cares.

  • Insulting stereotypes, demeaning dialogue can't pass as humor

    After a group of Native American actors walked off the set of “The Ridiculous Six,” now shooting in northern New Mexico, I happened to be at Ghost Ranch for a conference.
    The cast and crew were also at Ghost Ranch, near Abiquiu, but only their trailers were visible.
    Too bad. I would have enjoyed a word or two with them. Instead, I’ll give them 600 words.
    Let me say up front that I’m a fan of Adam Sandler when he’s in movies for grown ups. The rest of the time he makes garbage, which, unfortunately, is what “The Ridiculous Six” is.
    Some Native actors, including Mescalero Apache consultant Bruce Klinekole, took exception to insulting stereotypes, ignorance and disrespect for Native culture.
    Good for them.
    The fact that they objected publicly brought the discussion into an open forum on the Internet and in the media.
    It tells you something that I can’t fully explore all the offensive material because the content is too raunchy for a family newspaper. Indians in the movie are supposedly Apache; in real life Apaches were personally modest and conservative in their behavior. Sandler’s Apache women were named Beaver’s Breath and Wears-No-Bra and one that’s unprintable.

  • Changing face of healthcare

    Whatever you think of Obamacare, the United States healthcare system before Obamacare was a mess.
    Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act, is an attempt to straighten it out. So said Dr. Michael Richards, speaking to the New Mexico Workers’ Compensation Association. Richards is executive physician in chief of University of New Mexico Health Systems — one of the leaders responsible for moving New Mexico’s healthcare system into the new century.
    As Richards spoke, the doctor sitting next to me was muttering. This transformation is going to be hard on doctors, especially those in private practice.
    The problem, as we hear often, is that the United States spends more than twice as much per patient as other advanced countries, but our outcomes are worse, our error rates are among the highest, and alarming numbers of Americans have little or no access to services.
    The ACA addresses three goals, Richards said. These goals conflict with each other, so regulatory processes are needed to keep them in balance.
    First is insurance reform, especially to improve access by abolishing the limits for people with pre-existing conditions. This is good for those patients but it adds cost to an already costly system.

  • Lawmakers worry more about predatory lenders than about borrowers

    Storefront lenders can still charge their low-income borrowers any interest rate they see fit because legislators didn’t fix the problem.
    These companies, called “predatory” by their many critics, are the bottom feeders of banking. They exist because there’s a need.
    A lot of people never have enough money left after expenses to make a deposit and they don’t have credit cards either.
    The term for them is “the unbanked.”
    Storefront lenders make small loans at triple-digit interest rates (or more) to the unbanked. When borrowers can’t repay, lenders roll over the loan and fees and interest spiral.
    Predatory lending is the flawed answer to a problem. Banks and credit unions are practiced in sizing you up to decide if you’re credit worthy before they loan you a dollar and the complaint is usually that they’re too strict.
    Storefront lenders make loans to anybody. There’s the rub.
    As I discovered when I wrote about them recently, storefront lenders don’t care whether you’re credit worthy or not. They expect to get burned on a large number of their loans, so they charge high fees and interest rates. They make their money from the people who do attempt to repay their loans.

  • Regulating shows lack of R&D

    Research and development (R&D) is the good genie that improves every technical tool important to society and business.
    Few tools have more troubling defects than the tools of regulating. We know so by the heated reactions they spark in every interest group.
    Why then is R&D used so little to improve these tools? Our lack of R&D ignores the lush fields of opportunity for improving regulatory tools.
    R&D projects can be mapped to show where they fit with the four distinct steps in the regulatory process, namely, (1) rule-making, (2) permitting, (3) inspection and (4) enforcement.
    Politics and publicity focus on rule-making, which also involves science and engineering. Yet, most of the day-to-day work is in implementation — permitting and inspecting. Here is where many tasks could be done better, faster and cheaper if aided by 21st century technology. Indeed, this is the founding vision of R&D.
    In broad terms, environmental voices are not fond of swift permitting. By the same token, industrial voices are not fond of swift inspection and enforcement.
    Over time, each side tweaks certain parts to make them clumsy. Both sides conclude that a clumsy part is a fair reason to add more unwieldy parts. Both sides and all taxpayers suffer the cost of this contest.