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Today's Opinions

  • As state after state legalizes marijuana, will New Mexico join in?

    Whether as a slowly rising tide or flash flood, marijuana reform is on its way to New Mexico. The question is, who will benefit economically from what’s shaping up to be the fastest-growing industry of this decade?
    Since New Mexico became the first state to license and regulate the production and distribution of medical marijuana in 2007, 23 other states have followed our lead. Now Colorado, Oregon, Washington and Alaska have legalized recreational use. The District of Columbia has approved legalization, and unless Congress blocks it, President Barack Obama will soon be able to reunite his Hawaii choom gang for a smoke in the Rose Garden. (Hard to guess how the Secret Service would handle that, since pot remains illegal on federal property.)
    If he chooses to use the “pen and phone” he’s been brandishing lately in the cause of drug law reform, the president could drop marijuana from the fed’s list of controlled substances, a move that would favorably impact more Americans than his unilateral action on immigration. That would open the floodgates for similar reforms nationwide.
    Arizona legislators will weigh a legalization bill in the session opening this month, although it’s unlikely to make it to a floor vote this year.

  • Walmart and the myth of free market

    As the Legislature debates the two related issues of right to work and minimum wage, we’re probably going to hear about theories like free markets and free choice. So let’s get real.
    Some things are still traded in completely free markets, I suppose, but I would hesitate to name one nationally marketed product that is not somehow affected (for better or worse) by subsidies, tax breaks, or other factors that have nothing to do with consumer choice. (If you find one, please write to me!)  
    We are all subsidizing Walmart. If you don’t shop there, you are subsidizing the purchases of people who do.  
    Americans for Tax Fairness issued a report in April 2014 called “Walmart on Tax Day:  How Taxpayers Subsidize America’s Biggest Employer and Richest Family.”
    In this report, a state-by-state analysis shows the estimated number of Walmart employees in New Mexico as 14,322. The estimated public assistance cost for those New Mexico employees is $63.2 million. The estimated yearly total of tax breaks and subsidies to the Walmart stores in New Mexico, benefitting the company’s owners and stockholders, is $73.7 million. Those two figures add up to $136.9 million — money either not collected in taxes or paid out in public assistance to workers.  

  • Congress and Obama’s executive order allow firms to invite guest workers

    Many Americans are upset by the decision of President Barack Obama to issue an executive order to reform immigration policy. The executive order effectively grants undocumented immigrants the legal right to remain in the United States if they have been here five years and are parents, children, or spouses of citizens or of legal residents. The president says that he did this because Congress has not passed an immigration reform bill.
    Obama’s impatience with Congress on immigration reform is understandable. Government has allowed millions of immigrants to remain in the United States even though they are violating the law by being here. Since it costs about $23,000 to deport an undocumented immigrant, it would be fiscally irresponsible to try to deport a significant percentage of them. Thus, we need to reform immigration policy so that we have a law that we can afford to enforce. Although Obama may have gone beyond his authority as president, his action serves to highlight the urgency of Congress acting to reform immigration policy.

  • Is Governor Martinez a corporate puppet?

    The information in a Jan. 9 report, “Martinez throws support behind right-to-work,” in the business section of the Albuquerque Journal reinforces the claim that Gov. Susana Martinez is just another Republican agent working for big business.
    As usual, the governor proclaims that she is working for the people. “It is fundamentally wrong to require membership (in a union) in order to get a job or take money from the paychecks of our workers by force to support a special interest group that they do not want to be a part of.”
    But where was she speaking and why?
    Martinez was appearing “before about 500 business leaders and legislators at a Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce luncheon.”
    It is a little hypocritical and suspect to claim you are supporting labor rights when you are speaking before a special interest business group that would benefit the most from abolishing unions altogether.
    Hmm. Do you really think the governor is looking out for workers, or is she trying to pay back big businesses for their financial support and troll for more cash to fuel her political ambitions?
    There are several inconvenient truths about right-to-work (RTW) laws.

  • Letters to the editor 1-9-15

    China’s growing interest in U.S. companies
    According to Forbes Magazine Nov. 24 issue, which I paraphrase below, since the year 2000 Chinese companies have made almost 900 purchases of U.S. assets worth $43 billion.
    China’s billionaires are gobbling up U.S. companies at a record pace.
    Most disturbing are the implications of these purchases by Chinese Communist companies on our national security.
    Ralls/Sany purchased four wind farms in Oregon near a Navy weapons system base. Wanda group purchased 342 movie theaters previously owned by AMC Entertainment. WH Group bought Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest pork processor. Lenovo purchased Motorola and part of IBM’s server business.
    “In five years China’s direct investment in the United States has grown from $2 billion a year to $14 billion.”
    We should limit the purchase of U.S. companies by the Chinese Communist regime, and probably restrict the ownership of U.S. companies to less than 30 percent of outstanding shares of stock.
    Donald A. Moskowitz
    Londonderry, New Hampshire

  • Attacks on journalists can’t be tolerated

    On Wednesday, the world was shocked and appalled by the deplorable attacks at the Paris office of the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo. Twelve men and women were murdered for expressing their freedom of speech.
    Sadly, it is not an isolated incident.
    In August, journalist James Foley was beheaded in Syria after being held captive for nearly two years. In September, a gruesome video released by terrorists showed freelance journalist Steven Sotloff beheaded.
    It has become a disturbing trend for radicals and terrorists to target journalists. These attacks challenge the value of free speech at its core.
    Worldwide, there have been more than 60 journalists killed and more than 100 kidnapped in the past year. This is unacceptable. It cannot continue. Every attack on the press is an attack on all of our freedom.
    A free press is a vital and integral part of any free society. Even in our country, we have seen steps taken to limit and outright prevent the media from doing its job.
    In 2013, the newspaper industry was shocked to learn the U.S. Department of Justice seized reporters’ personal records and phone logs. New York Times reporter James Risen has faced the threat of jail time for more than a year because of his unwillingness to divulge the names of confidential sources.

  • Do as I say, not as I do

    I love malapropisms (using the wrong words to obfuscate meaning), such as dancing the flamingo, or teaching family values as the bondage between mother and child.
    Word abuse like that is now called a Bushism, named after a grating great man who was ungratefully “misterunderestimated.”
    But I’m not really well versed enough to understand the nuances of advanced wordplay, juggling between mondegreens, eggcorns, spoonerisms and other side dishes of word salad. I usually wade in the kiddie pool of language and limit myself to idioms.
    Idioms can be truly bizarre when you take the time to think about them. Like saying that something costs an arm and a leg. So what can you get for a spleen and a gall bladder?
    Now, one of the most overused colloquialisms is “Practice what you preach.” Some people liken this to meaning “Walk the walk and talk the talk.”
    Actually, the correct terminology should be “Walk the talk,” meaning to follow a set of rules or directions that you expect others to follow.
    All too often however, the intended meaning is, “Do as I say, not as I do.”
    A perfect case in point would be Bristol Palin, who was paid by the Candie’s Foundation to promote “her message” on the importance of abstinence.

  • High-flying Vista Photonics recognized for growth potential

    Jeffrey and Melissa Pilgrim launched Vista Photonics in 2003 to research how laser-based trace-gas sensors could be developed for a variety of commercial and project-specific uses.
    Among other innovations, the company created an instrument that helps farmers plan harvests by measuring how much ethylene gas crops emit to accelerate ripening.
    But the couple’s favorite brainchild so far is the optical life gas analyzer they developed for the National Aeronautic and Space Administration. The device monitors gas levels on the International Space Station — a function that’s critical to maintaining a balance of oxygen, carbon dioxide, water vapor and ammonia in the craft’s controlled atmosphere.
    These achievements — and the Santa Fe company’s growing status as a go-to maker of photonic products for various government agencies — led the Regional Development Center to recognize Vista Photonics in November as one of the companies it predicts will bring more jobs and revenue to the region by 2020.
    Originally begun to identify and nurture 20 high-growth companies that appeared likely to double their workforce and revenues by 2020, the Northern New Mexico 20/20 Campaign this year exceeded its goal: 25 companies have been inducted into the pantheon so far.
    ‘Growing ideas’