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Today's Opinions

  • 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.

  • Keystone XL decision is about Obama’s position on the world stage

    BY MARITA NOON
    Executive Director, Energy Makes America Great

  • Letters to the Editor 11-6-15

    Columnist Marita Noon ignores deleterious
    effects of fracking

    The op-ed in the Oct. 23 edition of The Los Alamos Monitor by oil-gas lobbyist Marita Noon reviews the evidence for the association between “fracking” and the increase in the number and magnitude of Oklahoma earthquakes. Her point, based on reports by Stanford geologist Mark Zoback and others, is the assignment of blame for the increase in earthquakes to the increase in “produced” water injection into conventional wells, not to water injection associated with the newer, rapidly proliferating fracking wells, thereby implying that fracking is OK.
    However, fracking also results in “produced” water, so whether the water being reinjected into the ground comes from fracking wells or oil recovery wells, Oklahoma earthquakes will continue to increase in number and magnitude  if the volume of produced water injected into oil wells continues to increase.

  • Big money invades big races and small

    When the Dianna Duran scandal made headlines, I asked a different question.
    What was she doing with all that money in the first place, I asked?
    How does the secretary of state’s race generate hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions? Who is doing all that contributing, and what do those contributors want? Even though Duran has resigned, the question remains. Increasingly, this issue affects political races at every level.   
    According to the secretary of state’s own website, in 2014 candidate Dianna Duran received $356,208.08 in contributions and spent $359,073.20. What for?  
    I called Viki Harrison of Common Cause. She was so excited to talk about this, she practically jumped through the phone. Harrison echoed my concern that big money has invaded New Mexico politics, and it’s causing a serious shift in the whole way we do our political business. Harrison cited the 2012 state Senate race between Tim Jennings and Cliff Pirtle as a turning point.