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Today's Opinions

  • Growth in New Mexico to remain depressed

    In the summer saga of state finances, this week brings a general look at the economy and its prospects. Our principal source is the more than 100 pages of background material provided for the Aug. 24 meeting of the Legislative Finance Committee.
    Wage jobs provide the starting point. In July, 825,300 people claimed jobs, among the lowest proportions of population in the nation. Metro Albuquerque was home to 384,500 jobs, or 47 percent of the total. Another 184,300 jobs were scattered among Santa Fe, Las Cruces and Farmington. For all the state’s distance and emptiness, 69 percent of our jobs are in the seven metro counties.
    “Employment has continued to grow at a depressed pace,” observed the LFC. For the July 2015 to July 2016 year, jobs in the state grew 1.2 percent, tied for 35th among the states. For depressing perspective, Utah’s growth was second nationally. Colorado and Arizona tied for sixth. New Mexico’s income growth is also depressed.

  • Payday lending costs everybody

    I am really tired of paying off loan sharks for other people’s debts. Aren’t you?
    You’re wondering what I’m talking about? The social cost of predatory lending.
    We’ve all heard about this, the payday loans and the car title loans, the astronomical interest rates and the low-income people who take these loans, probably not understanding they’re getting themselves into a tangle of ever-increasing borrowing and perhaps believing they have no choice.
    We haven’t heard enough about how much this is costing us as taxpayers, as donors to charities and as residents of a state where poverty depresses the standard of living for all of us.
    When a low income person spends $500 to pay off $100 loans, year after year, that affects you and me. When my taxes support that person’s access to Medicaid, I’m paying off the loan shark. When I write a check to Roadrunner Food Bank or put cans of tuna fish in a donation box, I’m paying off the loan shark again.

  • Letters to the Editor 9-9-16

    Fight for economic equality far from over

    Labor Day is the time when we recognize the social and economic achievements of American workers, but the fight for economic equality is far from over. Only 13 percent of American workers have access to paid leave through their employer. Two-thirds of minimum wage workers in the U.S. are women, and their income remains below the federal poverty line. Couple this with the fact a woman working full time on average still only makes 79 cents to a white, non-Hispanic man’s dollar. It’s easy to see that we still have work to do.
    As Election Day approaches, it’s important for all voters to educate themselves on where candidates, both state and federal, stand on worker issues. I encourage everyone to utilize the American Association of University Women Action Fund’s (AAUW) 2016 voter guides, which provide a breakdown of where candidates in congressional, gubernatorial and presidential races stand on issues impacting women and families, such as minimum wage, equal pay, paid leave, and many others (aauwaction.org/voter-education/voter-guides/).

  • Don’t mind your own business – they’re all our kids

    Here we are back in a sad, familiar place. We’ve lost another child to a brutal, unthinkable murder. Her face has been inside our heads since it first appeared in the newspaper, just like all the other faces of little ones lost to vile criminal acts.
    After the flowers, balloons and stuffed animals, come the hearings and task forces and inquiries and ordinances and laws and speeches.
    And then we turn to other matters until the next time, which comes too soon.
    But maybe this time we can begin the change, which starts with the truth, heard in frank testimony recently before Albuquerque city councilors and Bernalillo County commissioners.
    Sgt. Amy Dudewicz, who works in the Sheriff’s Office special victims unit, said they get more child-abuse and neglect calls than they can respond to. Two UNM pediatricians said that for every child who makes the news, hundreds more are hurt. Albuquerque police have just three child-abuse liaisons reviewing more than 900 cases a month.
    And this is in our largest city. Imagine the situation in rural areas.
    Two politicians made sense.
    U. S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham observed that we have many programs to address successive family crises.

  • State revenues collapse, fix requires compromise

    The day my newspaper brought a front page report about state government’s ugly financial situation, an insert offered a small-scale government extravagance, a 32-page full-color, tabloid touting the wonders of the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish. The insert, an issue of the department’s “New Mexico Wildlife” publication placed in newspapers statewide, sported additional elements that increased the cost.
    The cover was a photograph of a hummingbird.  
    Outside the budget mess but contributing to the overall national sense of New Mexico lies the killing of 10-year-old Victoria Martens in Albuquerque. Her memorial service provided the CNN.com headline the afternoon of Aug. 28.
    Some context is needed before moving to specifics during the next week or two.
    Solvency is back as the principal focus of state government, as in, how will the state decide to be able to pay its bills? This isn’t the usual meaning of solvency, which is the question of whether the organization can pay its bills. The state will rebalance the budget. The constitution requires it.

  • Letters to the Editor 9-7-16

    Iran nuclear agreement is excellent

    An article or letter appeared in the Aug. 22 Monitor entitled ‘For critics of the Iran nuclear deal...’ I wish to comment.
    I worked at IAEA headquarters in Vienna 1998-2003. I also worked with the Safeguards Department of the IAEA for over 33 years from LANL. My field was nuclear safeguards and nonproliferation. In addition to helping develop nuclear material measurement systems, I helped set up a measurement-training program for their safeguards inspectors. This has been part of every inspector’s initial training since 1979. I retired in 2007, but the program continues and has grown substantially. It was even featured in a six- to seven-minute Morning Edition article on NPR-KUNM several months ago. Ambassadors, senators, and representatives now come to LANL to learn about IAEA safeguards and the Treaty on Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). This includes all the inspectors who go to Iran. I know many of these folk and have participated in their training at LANL and the IAEA.
    I’ve read the NPT many times and helped facility and governmental personnel in many countries to develop and write the various required documents after signing the NPT. LANL also ran a course in cooperation with the IAEA and U.S. State Department in IAEA-NPT safeguards from 1990 to 2006.

  • Relationship helps in journey to start business

    Relationship figures big in six-year journey to start pet-care business
    By Finance New Mexico
    By the time they had adopted seven dogs from friends and neighbors, David and Juliana Garcia concluded that Las Cruces sorely needed a business that served animals and the people who love them.
    The couple bought a van with their savings to start a mobile grooming business for large pets. By the time they were ready to buy a second van to accommodate their growing client base, the Garcias were thinking about opening a hotel and day camp, with spa services on the side, for dogs and cats.
    In the challenging years between conception and creation of Pet Planet (http://www.petplanetcomplex.com) in 2014 — years that coincided with the deepest recession in nearly a century — the young entrepreneurs drew on their passion for animals and their financial partnership with The Loan Fund to sustain them.
    Timing is everything
    In 2008, the Garcias purchased the land on which they planned to build Pet Planet and lined up a construction loan through a traditional lender. Then the real-estate market crashed, and the bank withdrew its loan offer

  • Politicking enlists hocus-pocus

    “Hocus-pocus,” that stylish tool that pretends to do magic, also fits what the party we spurn tries to sell in election speeches. The comparison is not by chance. Politicking and sleight of hand have much in common.
    These words can be read as a cheap insult, yet their meaning is very real. Serious books these days explore the neuroscience behind magic tricks and find close ties to the ways in which illusions persuade people.
    The techniques work the same way in our brains whether the goal is to amuse with magic or to sell, persuade or gain votes. Brains work how they work.  
    In broad terms, magic methods work by distracting the viewers’ attention from the crucial spots at key times. The magic term is “sleight of hand.” When selling or politicking, the more refined term is “sleight of mind,” with the same meaning.
    The fun of magic is that we know what we see is impossible, whether we can spot the trick in it or not. The harm of politicking is we half-believe the impossible, because our minds do not work to spot the tricks.