Today's Opinions

  • See what became of the pit rule

    It is only a paper moon sailing over a cardboard sea …”
    These vintage lyrics chronicle the human condition. The words ring true in matters as normal and dramatic as the circus and political theatrics.
    Theatrics held the spotlight for years in the saga of New Mexico’s rule for safeguarding the soil and water while drilling wells to produce oil and gas. The rule sought to have drilling leave less waste on the land.
    The saga was recaptured in short form in a mid-2013 story in the Carlsbad Current-Argus. The news report read in part: “The Oil Conservation Commission approved the so-called pit rule Thursday, following testimony and deliberations that spanned more than a year. The regulations govern how producers handle drilling mud and other waste in pits, buried tanks, sumps and closed-loop systems.
    “The industry had argued that regulations adopted in 2008 and 2009 pushed producers from the state, costing New Mexico jobs and revenue. They petitioned in 2011 for the regulations to be amended.”
    The first step toward a rule is sufficient years of technical work. A leader in that work was a retiree from Los Alamos National Laboratory, Dr. Don Neeper, representing New Mexico Citizens for Clean Air & Water.

  • Yours, mine and ours: Planning stepfamily finances

    The Pew Research Center reports that 4 in 10 American adults have at least one step-relative, defined as a stepparent, a step-or-half sibling, or a stepchild in their family.
    While the Pew study says that many stepfamilies operate harmoniously, it also notes that adults “feel a stronger sense of obligation to their biological family members than they do to their step kin.”
    That is one reason why blended family finances can get so messy.
    Couples planning to blend families often have to make financial arrangements that respect previous relationships with ex-spouses and their families. Issues range from childcare and eldercare to potentially complex matters involving businesses, investment assets and real estate.
    That’s why involving trained experts in stepfamily financial planning is a must.
    Here’s a basic checklist of issues and solutions potential spouses and partners should consider:
    • Start with all cards on the table. Today’s first-time marriages or partnerships alone can introduce some staggering financial variables — business and inheritance issues, college debt, consumer debt or even past bankruptcies. Couples planning stepfamilies face even more complications.

  • You just can’t make this stuff up

    As the new year begins, I can’t help but take a look back and gaze at the wonders of the year past.
    By “wonders,” I mean that I can’t help wondering how civilization survived another year of its continuing bizarre behavior.
    For instance, the Pepsi company almost succeeded in destroying life as we know it by test marketing a Doritos flavored soda. What says “I’ve lost what little mind I have” better than saying it with a mouthful of fizzy Doritos?
    Not to be outdone on the stupidity meter, James Manning, pseudo-pastor of the ATLAH “church” accused Starbucks of flavoring its lattes with the “seeds of sodomites.”  Actually, I think they only do that with the Frappuccinos.
    Yes, 2014 was a good year. A company released a kiddie coloring book featuring Ted Cruz fighting off serpents (Obamacare and social programs), flying on the back of eagles (defending the Second Amendment and the rights of firearm manufacturers), and various pages designed to give the children nightmares (images of Palin, Beck and Bachmann).
    The publisher originally wanted to make it a “color by numbers” book, but Cruz had trouble with the double digits.

  • A symbolic battle against a way of life

    As the author of a 1998 book, “Talking So People Will Listen,” I perked up when an article within an issue of The Atlantic earlier this year was brought to my attention: “How to Talk About Climate Change So People Will Listen,” by Charles C. Mann — which offers some noteworthy insights.
    Mann is obviously a believer in anthropogenic (or man-made) climate change, making his observations all the more interesting.
    Much of his essay is spent deriding the left for its unrestrained rhetoric that it uses to “scare Americans into action.” He says “the chatter itself, I would argue, has done its share to stall progress.”
    Within his argument is some history and context that is illustrative for those who see climate change as cyclical — something natural that has happened before and will happen again, rather than something that is new, scary and human-caused.
    Those of us who believe the climate changes, but that human activity is, certainly, not the primary driver, struggle to understand the cult-like following of alarmists like Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org.

  • Old dogs can learn new tricks

    Whether you plan on getting a new puppy or just want Fido to finally nail the “sit” command, it is never too late to begin training your dog.
    Here are some tips for having a well-behaved pooch just in time for the holiday season.
    “The first few commands are usually basic obedience commands such as sit, down, stay, walking on leash and most importantly, to come when called,” said Elizabeth Bachle, a technician at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences pharmacy and an agility instructor at Puppy Love training. “These are a great foundation to training more complex behaviors and can keep your pet out of harm’s way.”
    New puppy owners often get caught up in the excitement of having a four-legged friend to play with and forget that training them early on is most effective.
    However, don’t believe the saying that “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” Even your loyal, more seasoned companions can improve on current techniques or learn new skills.

  • LA County Council doesn’t endorse tax on food

    LA County Council doesn’t endorse tax on food

  • Leave us alone! We can’t breathe!

    The last words out of the mouth of strangling victim Eric Garner are actually a metaphor for how libertarians feel about the entire welfare-warfare state under which modern-day Americans have been born and raised.
    Don’t his words express precisely how we libertarians feel? Leave us alone, we say to the state. Get out of our faces. Get out of our lives. You’re suffocating us. You’re killing us — literally, spiritually, financially and economically.
    Thomas Jefferson described this phenomenon in the Declaration of Independence: the king’s government was sending “swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.”
    There is hardly any part of our lives that government officials aren’t involved in. They just won’t leave us alone. Drug laws. Economic regulations. Income taxation. IRS audits. Asset forfeitures. Home raids. Secret surveillance. Draft registration. Permits and licenses. Minimum-wage laws. Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. Terrorist blowback from an interventionist foreign policy. Checkpoints. Perpetual crises and chaos.
    It never stops.
    The direct cause of Eric Garner’s death was obviously the chokehold that the cops put on his neck, which prevented him from breathing.

  • Make teachers happy

    I keep talking with public school teachers who are miserable. They’re all looking at their bank accounts trying to figure out when they can retire.
    The purpose of the school system is to educate students, not to make its employees happy. Students come first. But it’s hard to imagine that students are getting the best possible education when their teachers show up each morning feeling beaten and dispirited.
    They say it’s because of testing — too much testing, too little time to teach, testing results applied to their evaluations in ways that they say are unfair or illogical.
    Some complain about Common Core standards, but testing is still the primary theme.
    They are echoing a common complaint of unhappy employees. Employees are unhappy, it’s said, when they have no sense of control over their work, when they think things are being done wrong but they can’t do anything about it, when they don’t trust management and believe management won’t listen to them.
    That’s the classic formula, virtually guaranteed to produce low morale.