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Today's Opinions

  • SB 474 makes health care prices clear

    Health care pricing has been likened to shopping blindfolded in a department store, and then months later receiving an indecipherable statement with a framed box at the bottom that says: pay this amount.
    Indeed, here in New Mexico it is easier to find information about the price and quality of a toaster than of a common medical procedure. Because information about price and quality is essential to almost every market transaction, this lack of transparency means that health care is more expensive than it would otherwise be.
    The high cost of health care has devastating consequences. More than 62 percent of personal bankruptcies in the U.S. are attributable to illness and health care debt, up from 8 percent in 1981. Many of these medical debtors are middle-class homeowners, and more than three-quarters of them have health insurance.
    Health care costs are also a heavy burden on state taxpayers, with more than 27 percent of New Mexico’s annual budget going to health care. As health care spending outpaces the growth of the rest of the economy, it threatens to crowd out spending on other priorities like education.

  • We’re free to follow our passion thanks to farmers, ranchers

    In what categories can you count yourself among “the two percent?”
    I’ll waste this sentence so you can really ponder that question.
    Did agriculture spring to mind? If not, you’ll find this statistic surprising: Less than two percent of Americans are directly involved in production agriculture. In other words, 98 percent of us are disconnected from the farm and ranch in terms of time, physical distance, or both.
    Because we are disconnected from farms and ranches, we are dependent upon them for the things that only they can provide: food, fiber and more. If ever there’s a time to be aware of and appreciate that fact, it is now during National Agriculture Week.
    A century ago, most people produced their own food either entirely or in part — and that was because they had to. But leaps in technology opened upon new ways of tending to farm and ranch work, new ways of sharing knowledge about farming and ranching, new ways to market what they produced. What hasn’t changed is the passion that farmers, ranchers, and others in production agriculture bring to their work.

  • Pet Talk: Household toxicities

    Although we may be extra cautious when using household cleaners, automotive products, or pest control products in our homes and gardens, it may come as a surprise that the tasty morsel we just dropped while preparing dinner could endanger our best friend.
    Chocolate can be found lying around the majority of households, especially during the holidays. Depending on the size and type of chocolate, it can be very dangerous to your pet’s health if consumed.
    Make sure that your children are aware of this, as they might think they’re treating Fido by sneaking him a piece of chocolate cake under the dinner table. If your dog does get a hold of some, chocolate is absorbed within about an hour, so you should call your veterinarian immediately.
    “Additionally, grapes and raisins can cause renal failure in dogs if eaten,” said Dr. James Barr, assistant professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.
    “The exact cause of this is unknown, and the amount that needs to be consumed in order to be poisonous is unknown as well.”

  • Is your teen ready for a summer job?

    For many teens, there’s nothing more exciting than receiving the first paycheck from a summer job — a sure-fire ticket to fun and freedom. It’s also a great opportunity for parents to encourage proper money management.
    Parents or guardians need to do some necessary paperwork first. Working teens will need his or her own Social Security Number (SSN) to legally apply for a job. They will also need a SSN to open a bank account to deposit their paychecks. Depending on state law, children under 18 may have to open bank accounts in their custodial name with their parents or guardians. It is also important for parents to check in with qualified tax or financial advisors about their teen’s earned income, particularly if it may affect any investments under the child’s name.

  • The true gentleman

    The recent report of Sigma Alpha Epsilon’s video-recording its members chanting a racist song wasn’t really what I would call news.
    A bunch of college boys sing proudly and loudly using the N-word in celebration of their promise to exclude blacks from membership in their club?
    “There will never be a n----r at SAE.  You can hang him from a tree, but he’ll never sign with me!”
    That’s not news. Making fun of others to exclude them from one’s clique is an old and proud American tradition. And you don’t mess with tradition!
    Like many people, I was disgusted when viewing the video, saddened to see how little has changed in so many years. And like many, I cheered when the chant-leaders were expelled and the fraternity was kicked off campus.
    The SAE Fraternity Manual declares SAE as “The Singing Fraternity,” boasting that it has “many songs that our members should learn.”
    I’m guessing that the members might want to take that out of their manual now.
    The fraternity’s motto is “The True Gentleman,” and its mission statement defines this as “the man whose conduct proceeds from good will and an acute sense of propriety,” adding “one who thinks of the rights and feelings of others.”

  • Lawmakers plug on despite hot times in the Roundhouse

    Legislative sessions often leave the tracks during the final days, but last week was weird even by those standards.
    There was the usual House snipping that the Senate isn’t hearing their bills and more than the usual strain between parties. Rumors of retaliation floated in the stale air. Personal slights or bad behavior provoked demands for apologies.
    Tensions escalated until a University of New Mexico regent’s confirmation exploded in mid-air. When a long-serving senator resigned abruptly a day later, it was almost anti-climactic.
    Through it all, they kept working. The process pauses but doesn’t stop. All that blather in bloggerdom about the “do-nothing legislature” just ain’t so.
    The regent showdown had been brewing for days.
    The governor nominated former District Attorney Matthew Chandler as UNM regent. The Senate Rules Committee approved the nomination, then asked that its record be expunged and hauled Chandler back in.
    If lots of raised eyebrows had a sound, we could have heard a whoosh.
    The three-way face-off among Chandler, Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez, and Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto (all lawyers) shocked even veteran political reporters. Gone were the accustomed niceties observed in the Legislature, replaced by accusations flung back and forth.

  • Lottery bill is a bad gamble for students

    Responsible parents would never gamble with their child’s college savings account.
    Yet that is precisely what the New Mexico Lottery is proposing to do with the Lottery Scholarship, which serves as the college fund for many New Mexico students from low- and middle-income families.
    The New Mexico Lottery is attempting to pass Senate Bill 355, which would eliminate the requirement that a minimum of 30 percent of lottery revenues be dedicated to the scholarship fund. This requirement was enacted in 2007, based on a proposal by Think New Mexico.
    Prior to that time, there was no minimum percentage that the lottery had to deliver to the scholarship fund. The lottery was required to dedicate at least 50 percent of revenues to prizes, but once that requirement was met, the lottery paid its operating costs and sent whatever was left over to the scholarship fund.
    As a result, scholarships received an average of only 23.76 percent of lottery revenues a year from 1997-2007.
    Fortunately, the legislature enacted the 30 percent requirement, and it has resulted in an additional $9 million a year going to the scholarship fund.

  • Letter to the editor 3-18-15

    Superintendent Schmidt
    addresses PARCC concerns

    On March 11, a group of Los Alamos High School students met for half an hour after school in the Los Alamos High School lobby to provide information to the public about their concerns for next week’s state test, called the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers.
    PARCC, as it is known to students and staff, replaces previous years’ Standards Based Assessment.
    This marks the first year of the PARCC test, which is a part of the New Mexico state graduation requirements. While there are alternatives ways to demonstrate proficiency, high school students must first attempt achieving proficiency on the PARCC test before alternative demonstrations of competency are allowed.
    In addition, the newly introduced PARCC test presents an opportunity for students to demonstrate their understanding of the New Mexico Common Core State Standards, as well as demonstrate readiness for college and careers. Students at the information forum met with their high school peers, staff, school administration and some community members to share concerns about the upcoming PARCC tests.
    Several themes emerged from my one-on-one and small group conversations with students, including: