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Opinion

  • The latest unemployment numbers won’t cheer your heart, which will surprise nobody. It’s hard to spin that data and yet a new study takes a slightly different view: New Mexico is better able than many states to dig itself out.

    The jobless rate edged up from 7.7 to 7.9 percent for October, still below the nation’s 10.2 percent. We’re squarely in the middle, ranking-wise.

  • SANTA FE — On Pearl Harbor Day, Dec. 7, 1941 New Mexico’s National Guard troops deployed to the Philippines knew the Japanese would attack them the same day.

    They had been watching reconnaissance planes fly over every day, but had orders not to fire. Our reconnaissance planes saw the huge buildup on Formosa. Japan had captured everything to the north, including China. The Philippines were the last major obstacle on the way to Australia.

  • As we approach the season of good cheer, count me among those who wish members of New Mexico’s Legislature the happiest of holidays. If they’re smart they’ll sock a little of that happiness away so as to have something to draw on in the weeks ahead.

    They’ll need it.

    Only 18 days after the New Year dawns, state lawmakers convene at the Roundhouse for their 2010 legislative session.

  • Cancer. It’s a horrible thing. The very idea of it frightens people. Even the word is threatening. Some people call it the C-word as if careful not to say it out loud, either out of courtesy to those who have it or perhaps fear of getting it themselves (like knocking on wood). When someone contracts cancer, it consumes his or her life.

  • Have you ever opened the paper and winced because you saw a headline saying that one of your favorite businesses was closing?  Did you feel like your quality of life had just been diminished? The 3/50 Project is a national effort promoted in Los Alamos by the Chamber of Commerce to help avoid such unpleasant surprises.

  • The Global Economy has reduced prices and accelerated trade and development throughout the world; however, it has also caused massive relocations of jobs and wealth that threaten U.S. stability. Without reforms, the U.S. will continue its spiral into economic mediocrity and bankruptcy.

  • My old friend and work colleague Brian was an academically qualified scientific researcher before he retired. He spent 55-plus years performing, supervising and managing a selection of scientific endeavors and programs sponsored by the Western world governments, industry and philanthropists during the last half of the 20th century.  He worked in England and all over the USA and still travels extensively to Europe and the Far and Middle East.

  • Bruce and Alice King came as a set. Once one piece was gone, the other wasn’t very functional. They campaigned together as a two-fer long before Bill and Hillary picked up on it.

    Alice was Bruce’s campaign treasurer and he never spent a cent without her approval. One night when I pulled out a tattered check to pay for his book, “Cowboy in the Roundhouse,” Bruce mentioned that Alice also gave him only one check at a time.

  • Regarding the publication of the Police Beat on the front page of the Monitor, one could ask, “What are the Monitor editors thinking?” First, we were treated to a front-page Police Beat, which was once published inside the paper and now we get full-color pictures of the offenders along with a description of their offenses.  Are there no local, national or international newsworthy tidbits that could be substituted, or must we put up with such a misuse of the front page?  I would rather find the Beat inside the paper than have it splashed on the front page.

  • I read that Los Alamos has some 500 “poverty level” people or families.  I enjoyed a related observation that a city as rich as ours should be able to do something.

    I don’t understand some things.  The overall question is whether these individuals or families are below poverty level because of unforeseen and uncontrollable circumstances, or whether they are just suffering the consequences of bad decisions.  It would be helpful to have a lot more data about the situation:

  • Public discourse is a strange thing. It clanks, whirrs and blows steam. As it hacks and grinds away, making an assembly line of ideas to choose from.

         Discourse operates this way on any topic worth our time. Take for example the discipline of engineering.

         Engineering does things to the air and water, some for better and some for worse. Practices have changed in recent decades. At the same time, the old principles apply even more in new situations.

  • Los Alamos National Laboratory employees’ exceptional spirit of giving and generosity can be seen throughout the year in their participation in Laboratory community drives, campaigns and volunteerism.

    For example, the recently completed 2010 employee-giving campaign raised a record-breaking $1.3 million in donations. With the Los Alamos National Security, LLC match, this community investment will provide more than $2.3 million in services and resources for children, senior citizens and families.

  • There is one glaring error in a recent editorial cartoon by Trevor. He shows two women (out of five members) on the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. In reality, only one of the 10 members is female.

    This may account for the cavalier attitude of the task force recommendation that regular mammograms for women between the ages of 40 and 49 be discontinued. It appears that fewer lives are saved in this age group than in women over 50 whose breast cancer is diagnosed through regular mammography. They also recommend mammograms only every two years for the older group.

  • A new evaluation of fast reactors and recycling spent fuel is badly needed; the time to start is now. To recycle spent light water reactor fuel and use the product to fuel a fast neutron reactor will solve at least two major problems – adequate electricity (with no emissions) for the indefinite future (millennia) and elimination of the current red herring, spent light water reactor fuel disposal. The power stations of the future, equipped with fast neutron reactors, burn everything – plutonium does not accumulate.

  • With Gov. Bill Richardson following his usual management approach to tough matters – leave town – the Legislative Finance Committee gathered in Santa Fe Aug. 28 for the latest report on what might be done to maintain the solvency of state government.

    The LFC got a first look at proposals to deal with the state’s shortfalls.

    Right. That’s plural, meaning two budget years, the previous one and the current one.

  • SANTA FE — This is a highly unusual special session. It might be over by the time you read this. But if it is, it will be because lawmakers gave up on solving the total problem.

    The state is faced with its biggest deficit ever. Gov. Bill Richardson has complicated matters greatly by putting tax increases and public school classroom cuts off limits.

    What’s left are cuts of over 10 percent to the rest of the budget. Since people are by far the largest part of governmental budgets, it is almost impossible to make 10 percent cuts without cutting people.

  • SANTA FE ­— We’re not out of the woods yet. Have you noticed that our state budget deficit grows about $100 million a month beyond projections?

    Last March, the 2009 Legislature plugged a $500 million hole. The budget reduction was projected to get us through until July 2010. But by August 2009 we were already over $400 million further in the hole.

    In September, that deficit rose to $550 million and in October, it was $660 million. At this rate, by January, when the 2010 Legislature convenes, we’ll be another $300 million deeper in the hole.

  • “Money is good,” my daughter says.

    In politics, money means communication – that is, speech. Lobbyists have a job. It is communication.

    A new report from Think New Mexico, a non-partisan but liberal think tank in Santa Fe, treads the well-trodden path that money in politics is evil, especially money from people contributing to candidates.

    The title is, “Restoring Trust.” The subtitle is, “Banning Political Contributions from Contractors and Lobbyists.” Find it at www.thinknewmexico.org.

  • SANTA FE – The closing gavel of this year’s special legislative session also served as the opening gavel for next January’s 2010 Legislature.

    The first round has been completed. And as in any heavyweight fight, the budget cutters and tax increasers spent their time feeling each other out.

    Now that the combatants know each other’s tendencies, both can proceed to defend their territory and attempt to maximize their advantages.

  • SANTA FE — As predicted here, it’s as though the special legislative session never ended. Verbal assaults are still flying between Gov. Bill Richardson and legislative leaders.

    Progressive Democrats are still upset the governor and their leaders prevented any consideration of tax increases. Moderate Democrats and Republicans continue to insist that deep cuts in all budgets are the only answer.