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Today's Opinions

  • Nothing to celebrate


    Star Trek” fans (Trekkies) all have their favorite alien characters.
    Mine are the Ferengi, shameless greedy little creatures who cackle with delight as they rationalize any effort to make a buck.
    Their “Rules of Acquisition” outline directives for profit. Rule 34 states, “War is good for business.”
    Given that the United States has been involved, with direct or indirect military actions, for 217 years out of its 239-year history, business has been good for America.
    Not particularly good though for the American warriors who fight the battles.
    A friend asked, “Why do we say ‘Happy Memorial Day?’ What are we happy about?”
    Good question. It seems natural to use the word “happy” when you identify the day as something to be cheerful about. Birthdays, weddings, anniversaries. These are happy events.
    There’s nothing to be happy about on Memorial Day. It’s a day set aside to remember and honor those who have died serving in the military.
    But here in America, we thrive on being happy, taking any excuse to have a party, a barbecue, or to rush off to the shopping malls for sales on things we don’t need. What better way to honor fallen warriors than by getting that SpongeBob T-shirt for your kid?

  • Business tools empower owners to shape their financial future

    Entrepreneurs are naturally passionate about providing a service or product, but many avoid digging into the financial aspects of running a small business — perhaps because they don’t have simple tools that can help them understand their finances.
    This avoidance can cost a business dearly, because financial success requires that the owner understand the target customer, how to price a product or service and how to keep track of cash flowing in and out of the business.
    It all begins with understanding who — if anyone — wants the product or service the business is selling.
    “Businesses can’t take a shotgun approach to marketing,” said Kim Blueher, vice president of lending at WESST — a nonprofit lender and small-business development and training organization with six offices in New Mexico. A marketing strategy needs to be based on “a realistic picture of how many people want their product.”
    At WESST, Kim and Amy Lahti teach business clients how to identify that customer. They also introduce clients to simple spreadsheets that help them compute how many products or services the business needs to sell to cover expenses and make a profit.

  • Leadership Los Alamos gives many thanks

    On behalf of the Leadership Los Alamos Board, we want to acknowledge the unwavering support of staff from the Community Programs Office provided in hosting Lowell Catlett.   
    We were honored and fortunate to have someone of Catlett’s caliber visit Los Alamos, as he is well known as a futurist both nationally and internationally.
    Catlett was the keynote speaker to the 2015 Graduates of Leadership Los Alamos, and during his presentation he stated what an amazing community we live in. He was impressed with the afternoon tours he was given from key Los Alamos National Laboratory staff.  We are pleased to say that Catlett left Los Alamos with a better understanding of the dedicated LANL staff and the difference their work does for our nation. We have gained an advocate and friend in Catlett.
    In addition, we would also like to offer a very special thank you to our core sponsors Los Alamos National Bank and Los Alamos County whose generosity allows Leadership Los Alamos to operate, as well as offer scholarships to several applicants.
    Leadership Los Alamos has graduated more than 250 leaders who are making a difference in our community.   

  • Be prepared for Obamacare changes

    The U.S. Supreme Court is poised to issue its decision in King v. Burwell in June.
    The ruling could have tremendous consequences for the healthcare law commonly known as Obamacare — and more importantly, it could have a huge impact right here in New Mexico.
    King v. Burwell was argued before the high court in March 2015. The case hinges on an interpretation of the Obamacare law.
    The plaintiffs argued that the text authorizes premium subsidies for people in “exchanges established by [a] State.”
    A separate section describes the creation of a federal exchange by the Secretary of Health and Human Services for states that do not create their own exchanges.
    An IRS rule issued in 2012 allowed premium subsidies to be paid through exchanges established by the secretary. The plaintiffs argue these subsidies are illegal, since there is no congressional authorization for the spending.
    If the justices concur, states that have not created exchanges under the law could see some dramatic changes.
    However, New Mexico has a “hybrid” exchange.

  • New Mexico college enrollment tanks

    “N.M. College Enrollment Decline Leads Nation.”
    Thus, did one local headline chronicle the news last week of the precipitous drop in the number of students entering New Mexico’s universities this academic year compared to just last year.
    The numbers are stark: Almost 11,000 fewer students enrolled at New Mexico’s institutions of higher education for the fall semester of 2014 than in the fall of 2013.
    Think upon it. We’re talking here about a decline of 8.3 percent in only 12 months. The rate of decline in college enrollment, nationally, was 1.9 percent, so to report that New Mexico‘s decline “leads” the nation is to understate the case dramatically.  
    It also dramatically underscores the tenacity with which the Great Recession of 2008 continues to hold New Mexico in its grips. Nor does it help that New Mexicans have chosen a cadre of state and local political leaders demonstrably ill-suited to turn things around.
    Of course, New Mexico “leads” the nation in declining college enrollments. Under the circumstances how could it be otherwise?
    It is also one of the few states that “leads” the nation in a documented loss of population. More people have actually moved away from New Mexico than to New Mexico since the Great Recession of 2008.

  • Trade treaties have hurt people, economy

    Is the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) a bad trade agreement for the U.S.? That remains to be seen.
    However, Americans have little reason to trust their government regarding trade.
    The U.S. was the principal architect of the global economy and current trade deals, yet, it has failed to acknowledge the shortcomings of the agreements or try to correct them.
    The global economy was conceived during WWII to expedite post-war economic recovery, prevent future wars of territorial acquisition, provide employment in the developed nations and improve the lives of people throughout the world.  
    Unfortunately, the inherent difficulties of international trade, such as equitable currency exchange, currency manipulation, trade imbalances, the outsourcing of production and the creation of national and international winners and losers, remain problematic.
    Regardless of intentions, U.S. trade agreements have adversely affected U.S. workers, small manufacturers, national wealth, and the long-term viability of the United States (the losers).
    On the other hand, they have richly rewarded international corporations, Wall Street, large investors and foreign nations whose economies are based on exports or currency manipulation (the winners).

  • Nuclear waste will always be with us

    The two faces of WIPP: We get $73 million for our trouble related to leaking waste AND the government now contemplates storing surplus weapons plutonium in WIPP.
    Whatever its problems, the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad, will figure into national policy because hazardous waste storage is a necessity, and we have few options. Risk and reward are embedded in the debate.
    Holtec International wants to build an interim facility near Carlsbad to store spent nuclear fuel.
    So let’s look at a 1996 study by Stanford Law School student Noah Sachs, who looked objectively at questions of ethics and environmental justice related to a similar New Mexico project.
    In the early 1990s, the federal government offered grants to tribes and rural communities to study the possibility of storing nuclear waste. The Mescalero Apache Tribe responded quickly and moved steadily through the process, becoming the first to seriously pursue a project.
    The facility would be a large, guarded structure holding spent nuclear fuel in steel, reinforced concrete casks on a square-mile site of the tribe’s choosing. It would contain more than half of U.S. spent fuel for 40 years. And because we didn’t have any long-term facilities, the waste would probably stay there.

  • Story of 7 brothers in WWII is remarkable

    This time last year, I did a commentary on five brothers who served in World War II. Very impressive.
    Imagine my surprise when someone who caught the commentary sent me a package with this note:   
    “Dear Professor Kengor: Your [commentary] about the family whose five sons served in WW II was interesting. You might be interested to know about families who had more than five sons who served in WW II.”
    Well, Ted Walters of Uniontown, Pennsylvania, certainly had my attention.
    He continued: “My mother, Stella Pietkiewicz, had seven sons serve in WW II. She had the honor to christen the plane, Spirit of Poles, because she had the most sons who served in WW II.”
    Yes, seven sons.
    Along with Ted Walters’ letter was an old newspaper clipping that showed six Pittsburgh-area mothers, all of Polish descent, who had 33 sons in service. Anna Lozowska, Maryanna Sawinska, Katarzyna Antosz, and Mrs. Joseph Wojtaszek each offered five boys to the cause.
    Honorta Lachowicz provided six sons. Stella Pietkiewicz took the prize with seven.
    Bless their souls. These moms gave their boys to the cause of freedom.