Today's Opinions

  • Smith plans gas tax ‘message bill’

    The headlines and presenter observations from the New Mexico Tax Research Legislative Outlook Conference provide a brief indication of economic and tax matters coming in the 2015 legislative session. The conference was Dec. 16 in Albuquerque.
    Tom Clifford, secretary of the Department of Finance and Administration: Part of the severance tax bonding capacity will be earmarked for highways in the southeast.
    Charles Sallee, deputy director of the Legislative Finance Committee: Medicaid pays for 70 percent of the births in New Mexico. A quarter of the children entering kindergarten in high poverty schools are unable to identify one letter. Eighty percent of children are behind on the day they enter kindergarten. The problem with children who are behind is not ethnicity; it is poverty.
    Gary Tonjes, president of Albuquerque Economic Development: He supports the increase from $15 million to $50 million that is proposed for the Local Economic Development Act by the Jobs Council interim legislative committee. The money serves as a job closing fund from which state government provides capital for business expansion.
    “As a result (of the previous increase to $15 million), deals are happening. We are far more competitive,” Tonjes said.

  • Letter to the editor 1-4-15

    Thanks to county workers
    Before I even dragged myself out of bed on New Year’s morning, I heard the snowplow go by on my street. I have also heard that the dedicated county workers who provided this valuable service were advised to restrict their previous night New Year’s Eve celebrations in order to be prepared for the call that would come so early.
    I thank them for both their service and their related self-abnegation.

    Terry Goldman
    Los Alamos

  • Return on investment begins at the drawing board

    Businesses invest lots of human and capital resources into marketing, asset purchases and outreach. Their goal, of course, is to generate the best return on every dollar spent, every hour worked and every keystroke made.
    Return on investment, or ROI, measures how much money or other tangible benefits the business makes on every investment.
    For example, if a business invests in a modern computer system to expand its reach and improve its service to Internet shoppers, the return on investment would measure how many new customers it gained and how much these newcomers spent. These gains would be analyzed in relation to the amount of the investment.
    ROI should be considered for every business investment, and various formulas can be used.
    Classic formulas
    and variations
    To calculate the classic ROI formula, the prospective business investor divides the cost of the investment into the estimated benefit or gain — the returns after costs are subtracted.
    The equation, expressed as a percentage, looks like this: Percent ROI = (Gains – Cost) / Cost.
    It seems straightforward and simple: A negative number equals a poor ROI, while a positive one suggests a good investment — and the higher the positive number the better the investment potential.

  • 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.