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Today's Opinions

  • Presidents and Thanksgiving: Proclamations through the years

    BY DR. GARY SCOTT SMITH
    Center for Visions and Values

  • Medicaid: New Mexico’s runaway train

    BY PAUL J. GESSING
    President, New Mexico Rio Grande Foundation

  • Los Alamos: A unique place with incredible views

    BY ANDY DENNIS
    Special to the Monitor

  • Not losing is a loser’s game

    BY DR. EARL TILFORD
    Visions and Values

  • The Keystone XL decision, climate change, some political realism

    BY GERALD B. ANSELL
    PH.D. Greener Research, Los Alamos

  • Majority of state’s jobs are still in low-paying sectors

    New Mexico First just issued an ambitious Progress Report for the state, focused on the state’s big four issues: education, health, economy and water. The nonpartisan public policy group provides a frank, unemotional appraisal of where we’re at with the hope that legislators and organizations can use the information to find common ground.
    The report’s advisory committee, drawing from an array of sources, chose 35 indicators. Some we’ve heard before, but others give us new insight into our strengths and weaknesses.
    First, the good news: The state is making progress in pre-kindergarten enrollment, science and math college graduates, heart disease deaths, health insurance coverage, child immunization, adult smoking reduction, household income, unemployment, export-related employment, fiscal and regulatory policy, energy production, total water use, water use by public water systems, and water rights adjudications.
    And the bad: The state is getting worse in child hunger, mental healthcare access, healthcare provider access, substance abuse deaths, poverty, waterway impairment, and dams with safety deficiencies.
    Let’s look at the economy because it supports everything else.

  • NM’s ‘unbanked’ population booming

    Using a bank is one element of being money savvy. Overall, we are not especially money savvy, says gobankingrates.com, a personal finance website.
    In gobanking’s judgment of relative state money savviness (or not), New Mexico is in the group ranking from 31st to 40th. Criteria include using banks, saving and investing and a state’s financial education policies, such as requiring courses in high school.
    The 2013 National Survey of Unbanked and Underbanked Households by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation was an important source for gobanking.
    New Mexico’s 857,000 households are 10.9 percent what the jargon calls “unbanked,” without any bank account. That’s 42 percent more than the 7.7 percent of unbanked households nationally.
    Another 22.5 percent were underbanked, that is, they had a bank account but used “alternative financial services” such as money orders, check cashing, remittances, payday loans, refund anticipation loans, rent-to-own services, pawn shop loans, or auto title loans. During the 30 days before being surveyed, 15.1 percent had used alternative financial services. Another 14.9 percent used such services during the past year.

  • Advancing the ideas of regulatory engineering

    In the dark before dawn on Oct. 27, a longtime  friend of mine and I headed out from Los Alamos to catch a flight to Southern  California.
    My colleague is a three-term regent at California Lutheran University. In this capacity, he has brought a passel of insights, gathered in his career at Los Alamos National Laboratory, to be considered more widely at this 56-year-old private university in Thousand  Oaks, north of Los Angeles. The school aims to gain learning by doing, or applying facts to find answers.
    Our visit had a single purpose. We sought to advance the ideas of regulatory engineering that spring up as we look around and see the technical progress in fields on every hand. Over the last four years, a dozen of my columns here have explored the stream of smart tools and capabilities that work better, faster and cheaper in many fields.
    The peculiar question I ask is: Why not apply the same tools to make regulation also work better, faster and cheaper?  Up-to-date techniques that are little used in regulating include research and development (R&D), systems analysis,  actuarial science, data mining, drones, on-board diagnostics and the “Internet of Things.” These tools create still more prospects for regulatory engineering, a name coined in my columns.