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Today's Opinions

  • Modest proposals from Think New Mexico

    Some Republicans in the Legislature plan to introduce a constitutional amendment that would ban marriage between two people of the same sex, according to a credible recent rumor. Such action would suck the energy from the 2014 legislative session, make for continued inattention to our quality of life and continue Republican business as usual.
    Fortunately, with regard to the economy, someone is thinking about something comprehensive, though modest. That is Think New Mexico (thinknewmexico.org), the “results oriented think tank,” with credibility from substantive proposals reasonably presented. TNM’s new report is “Addressing New Mexico’s Jobs Crisis.”
    Fred Nathan, TNM founder and executive director, and I view the world somewhat differently. We do have good debates. For sure, I’m glad TNM is doing what it does.
    The interim Jobs Council of the Legislature is the only other outfit I know comprehensively looking at the economy. In the council’s case it involves a semi-baffling bottom-up building of the desired number of economic base jobs.

  • Speak out against elder abuse

    October is National Long-Term Care Residents’ Rights Month, a time to acknowledge the contributions and sacrifices many long-term care residents have made to better our community and to call attention to the rights of residents in long-term care facilities.
    This year’s theme – Speak Out Against Elder Abuse, was selected to call attention to the fact that elder abuse is an issue that shouldn’t be taken lightly.
    It is predicted that by 2025, the global population of those aged 60 years and older will more than double, from 542 million in 1995 to about 1.2 billion.
    The abuse of long-term care residents is an issue that people may not like to acknowledge or report. But physical, emotional and economic abuses are unfortunately becoming more common.
    According to a World Health Organization brief, a survey in the United States uncovered that 36 percent of nursing-home staff reported having witnessed at least one incident of physical abuse of an elderly patient in the previous year, 10 percent admitted having committed at least one act of physical abuse themselves, and 40 percent said that they had psychologically abused patients.
    It is important to give elders and individuals with disabilities a sense that this social injustice is not simply being ignored.

  • Revive the CCC as the CCR

     John Bartlit’s Sunday editorial about reviving the Civil Conservation Corps was right on!
    I had already written to President Barack Obama about hiring workers on the railroads, suggesting it be called the Civil Conservation of Railways.
    Super fast trains for the East get all the attention, but we need to repair the rail lines in New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado this year, or the Southwest Chief will be re-routed south, eliminating passenger service to several towns in Kansas, and Colorado, including Raton, Las Vegas, and Lamy in New Mexico. We don’t want to drive all the way to Albuquerque to get the train to California, or Chicago and Santa Fe will lose the Lamy access.
    Inez Ross
    Los Alamos
     

  • The City Different has become the City Difficult

    Unlike most, I can vividly recall the actual approximate time modern Santa Fe “took off.” It coincided with an Esquire Magazine article, May 1981, showing an outdoorsy dude on the cover, extolling the fact they had discovered the “right place to live.” The rest was counter-culture history. The sleepy little burg that was New Mexico’s state capital, aka the “city different,” would never be the same.
    Looney-tunes, trust-babies, wannabe artists, oil millionaires, and the Hollywood sparklies from far and wide descended in droves.
    Living in Albuquerque I remember thinking, “well, this is cool” and of course, we talked it up to all the relatives and friends back East, who’d eventually make the journey and be amazed. Not anymore, amigos.
    Fast forward to the present, and one realizes these people have now taken over the political power structure of Santa Fe.
    Oh, there’s still some lingering vestige of classic New Mexico politics, as evidenced by the occasional corruption caper. Former County Public Works Director James Lujan was just busted for years of receiving bribes.

  • CCC saved our bacon before

    Food stamps is a timely issue in Congress. Food stamps tie to a wide range of growing national problems that extend from welfare and budget limits to joblessness, unstable families and the workings of nature.
    To sum up: Republicans want to end food stamps for anyone who is not working. This idea makes sense if enough full-time jobs exist so everyone able to work can find work.
    Ties exist among welfare, the number of jobs created and the stability of families. These ties fill the news now and were painfully clear to America of the 1930s.
    The nation’s 1930s response to all three problems had exceedingly good results. It was the Civilian Conservation Corps, a remedy I keep pushing.
    A bill from President Franklin Roosevelt for the CCC reached Congress on March 21, 1933, and a CCC act was passed 10 days later by voice vote. Those voices struck a deal worth trying.
    The CCC ended in 1942, when the young men went off to war.
    As the name says, the men worked on conservation projects, such as building erosion controls, roads, trails and structures on public lands; fighting wildfires and planting trees. Admire the CCC workmanship in the stone buildings, carpentry and tinware at Bandelier and similar work in parks from Yosemite to Acadia.
    What the CCC achieved and the need for more of it remains with us today.

  • Dirty drilling ruins environment

    Two-thirds of New Mexico is still in moderate to extreme drought, despite the recent rains and floods. At the same time, a new report calculates the toll of this dirty drilling on our environment, including 1.3 billion gallons of freshwater used since 2005. The Environment New Mexico Research and Policy Center report “Fracking by the Numbers” is the first of its kind to measure the footprint of fracking in New Mexico to date.
    “The numbers don’t lie — fracking has taken a dirty and destructive toll on our environment. If fracking continues unchecked, these numbers will only get more dire,” said Sanders Moore, director of Environment New Mexico. “Our water supplies are too precious to waste on fracking.”
    After seeing firsthand the effects of fracking on his livelihood, Gilbert Armenta, a rancher near Farmington, said, “there is no glory in these [gas] wells.” He emphasized the need to keep our water available for farming, ranching and drinking — rather than fracking.
    The “Fracking by the Numbers” report measured other key indicators of fracking threats in New Mexico, including:
    • Three billion gallons of toxic wastewater generated in 2012,
    • 9,810 tons of air pollution produced in one year,

  • A nail in the educational coffin

    Television commercials entertain us with actors who, wearing lab-coats and surrounded by medical paraphernalia, advise us on how to medicate ourselves in order to treat illnesses such as arthritis, high blood pressure and diabetes.
    I say “entertain” because the fun part is reading the warnings on possible side effects (usually given in nano-sized font). For example, the treatment for arthritis can lead to skin reactions, ulcers and intestinal bleeding, pregnancy termination, heart attack, stroke, or death.
    I love the term “side effects.” It sounds so benign. Of course, if they called it “in your face effects,” people might have a problem with the death part.
    Sometimes the side effects mandate that nano-sized font. Men suffering from low testosterone are advised to consider hormonal replacement therapy, which then warns of “risk of reduction of testicle size.”
    I suppose one would call that a “tiny” side effect.
    My favorite side effect warning comes from a weight reduction medicine. It warns that users might have “hard to control bowel movements and oily spotting.” So instead of shooting your mouth off at a restaurant, you can make a more back-end commentary on your opinion of the chef’s creation.

  • Entrepreneurs urged to ‘Come WESST’

    Anthony Urquidez sees two types of clients at the Roswell office of WESST, where he is regional manager: the aspiring entrepreneur who walks in the door — almost on a whim — armed with little more than an idea, and the would-be business owner who arrives with a business plan and a clear idea of what she needs, whether it’s a loan or instruction in computer skills or tax preparation.
    All are welcome at WESST, which serves small businesses from offices in Roswell, Albuquerque, Farmington, Rio Rancho, Las Cruces and Santa Fe. The nonprofit small business development and training organization helps clients find loans when traditional lenders have turned them down, and it provides expert advice for people who don’t have the resources to hire a certified public accountant or attorney, Urquidez said.
    Since its formation in 1989, WESST has helped 1,500 New Mexico businesses get started or move to the next level.
    Professional Approach
    A client serious about getting help begins a WESST consultation by filling out a client intake form and getting into the group’s system, Urquidez said. The form requests income information, work history and other basic data that helps WESST experts know where to begin helping the client.