January 20, 2021

New Developments in Kit Carson Electric Cooperative Energy Project

Posted on 13. Jul, 2011 by Stephan Helgesen in Energy/Environment

Kit Carson Electric Cooperative (KCEC) announced today that it has entered into a strategic partnership with Pulse Broadband, an advanced fiber-optic telecommunications leader serving rural markets, to build KCEC’s state of the art Fiber-to-the-Home network serving Northern New Mexico. Kit Carson’s service area is comprised of more than 29,000 homes and businesses in Taos, Colfax and Rio Arriba Counties. Pulse Broadband will act as Project Manager and Project Engineer and utilize its vast experience in the construction of next-generation Fiber-to-the-Home networks  to give  homes and businesses in the KCEC service area access to best-in-class broadband Internet, telephone and television services.

Kit Carson Electric also announced, as part of the same project, a partnership with WESCO for material management and procurement and Atlantic Engineering and TCS Communications for construction and deployment services, pending negotiations. “This is an exciting time for our community” said Kit Carson CEO Luis Reyes. “This new network will transform our area and the contractors we have selected will allow us to maximize the use of local workers and subcontractors”. “We are not only adding the skills of experienced network designers and builders like Pulse Broadband, but we are showing a commitment to bring local jobs, education and training into our communities. These benefits will last for many years to come” said Reyes. We estimate between 200 and 300 good paying jobs will be created during the construction phase.

Pulse Broadband CEO Bill Shreffler added “we are honored and excited to be selected for this outstanding project. The KCEC network will be one of the most advanced in the nation and will promote the kind of breakthroughs in communications, medicine and education that we have seen in other communities that have deployed advanced fiber technology.  We are honored to work with the Kit Carson management team and excited to help fulfill the commitment of maximizing the use of the local workforce as we build the communication network of the future” said Shreffler. Preliminary work on the nearly 3,000 mile network has already started and members will no doubt see crews working in their communities in the coming weeks and months.

About Kit Carson Electric Cooperative

Kit Carson Electric Cooperative (KCEC) is a member owned Electric Distribution Cooperative. KCEC is one of 13 electric cooperatives that serve rural New Mexico Communities, and one of 44 distribution cooperatives receiving power from Tri-State Generation and Transmission of Denver, Colorado.  KCEC serves over 29,497 customers in Taos, Colfax and Rio Arriba Counties.  Formed in 1944, KCEC is the second largest cooperative in the state of New Mexico. Along with electrical service, Kit Carson also offers its members internet service, telecommunications & broadband service and propane service.  Interested in preserving a healthy environment, KCEC was the first New Mexico Cooperative offering the Green Power option to its members.  A national leader in deployment of solar electricity, KCEC was recently ranked second in watts/consumer and fourth in total solar production amongst all rural electric cooperatives in 2010 by SEPA, the Solar Electric Power Association,  For more information, please visit http://www.kitcarson.com and www.kitcarson.net.

Contact info : Luis A. Reyes Jr. (575)758-2258 lreyes@kitcarson.com

Project Engineer: Jose Lovato (575)741-5043 lovato22@kitcarson.net

About Pulse Broadband

Pulse Broadband is a Missouri company headquartered in St. Louis, with offices in Texas and New Mexico.  Pulse Broadband constructs and operates next generation fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) technology.  Pulse’s patented FTTH architecture is a full last mile fiber solution.  It is significantly less expensive to build and maintain without sacrificing bandwidth scalability or reliability compared to other full fiber solutions.  This means that advanced services can be deployed profitably in rural settings.  In addition to the FTTH technology solution, Pulse’s turn-key management company partners with rural companies, cooperatives and municipalities serving rural customers to help them deploy and manage advanced telecommunications services and give members access to best-in-class broadband Internet, telephone and television services.   Please contact Pulse Broadband at www.pulsebroadband.net

About WESCO International, Inc

WESCO International, Inc. (NYSE: WCC), a publicly traded Fortune 500 company headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is a leading provider of electrical, industrial, and communications maintenance, repair and operating (“MRO”) and original equipment manufacturers (“OEM”) products, construction materials, and advanced supply chain management and logistics services.  2010 annual sales were approximately $5.1 billion.  The Company employs approximately 6,800 people, maintains relationships with over 17,000 suppliers, and serves over 100,000 customers worldwide.  Customers include industrial and commercial businesses, contractors, governmental agencies, institutions, telecommunications providers and utilities.  WESCO operates seven fully automated distribution centers and over 400 full-service branches in North America and international markets, providing a local presence for customers and a global network to serve multi-location businesses and multi-national corporations.

For more information please contact: (412) 454-2200http://www.wesco.com/

Media contact: Rudy Tober, (248) 535-6335, rudy@pulsebroadband.net

2011 Fire Season: It’s going to take us all

Posted on 13. Jul, 2011 by Stephan Helgesen in Energy/Environment

Uncharacteristic wildfires can be devastating to natural resources and our communities.  This year’s fire season is showing us that first hand.  Too many trees and unhealthy forest conditions, a dry winter and spring, above average temperatures, low humidity, and near constant wind events created extremely dry vegetation, vegetation that was ready to burn.  Every spring people ask us (the Forest Service) if we are ready for fire season. Some might say we can only know the answer after the season is over.  But I believe we can be ready for wildfires, in fact, we must be ready, knowing events won’t always turn out exactly how we would like.  If you’ve lived in the Southwest for any length of time, it’s easy to realize all of the conditions favored a potentially long and difficult fire season.  And we got it…but we, in the wildland fire business, were ready.  Here are the reasons why I think that was the case.

We take our charge to protect life, property, and the natural resources that our communities depend on very seriously. That means taking actions to prevent fires from starting in the first place and being prepared when they do start.  We took actions to help prevent fire starts and to protect both human life and the forests that we all treasure.  We restricted camp fires and other activities when the risks for fire increased, and when conditions became too extreme on some forests, those forests are now closed to public use.  The hot, dry, and windy conditions told us we needed to be prepared earlier than normal for fire season.  We brought in firefighters and equipment three to four weeks early and made sure helicopters and air tankers were in close proximity.

But restrictions, closures, and securing resources early are not cure alls.  We need each of you to take personal responsibility to stop fires from starting.  Humans and nature can be unpredictable and the fires that result can be destructive given the right circumstances.  It’s important to recognize however, what our efforts and firefighters achieve in the face of adversity, and that there are successes to be thankful for along the way.

We are blessed with committed individuals both inside and outside the Forest Service, including highly trained people who risk their lives every day to minimize the impact of wildfires.  With nearly 200,000 acres burned this spring on national forests in New Mexico (and more each day); hundreds of threatened homes and businesses have been saved.   We would rather never lose homes to wildfire, but sometimes the conditions make it impossible to save every one, and our hearts go out to those who have suffered losses.  Many communities including Mayhill, Ruidoso, and Queen have been threatened by the various fires in New Mexico.

Despite extreme fire behavior, we were able to save the majority of homes, losing three in the Mayhill Fire, five in the White Fire and one in the Last Chance Fire.  Heroic efforts of local, state, and federal firefighters were aided in these successes by the previous removal of trees to thin forests in and around communities.  Many individual homeowners worked hard to “firewise” their homes and we thank each and every one of you.  Thinning done around the towns of Mayhill and Ruidoso, New Mexico can be credited with protecting those communities from the extreme fire behavior of the Mayhill and White fires.  Fire hit these areas with incredible force but the flames dropped down to something more manageable in the thinned areas.  Fewer trees in more natural patterns with appropriate spacing result in fires that burn primarily on the ground or with more moderate behavior, and at a slower pace.  This allows firefighters to safely attack the fire more directly, minimizing its impacts and allowing for protection of property and other resources.  Efforts to thin forests around communities paid off for the resources, the firefighters, and the communities.

Fire is a natural and important part of southwestern forest ecosystems, so we will never eliminate all impacts from fire.  But we can and are striving to minimize those undesirable impacts by restoring our forests to a more healthy condition; a condition that supports lower intensity fires that are easier to manage and benefit the forests.  I recognize the urgent need for restoration not only to reduce the risk of fires like the Mayhill and White Fires, but also to improve the resilience of our forests and ensure they are here for future generations.

We have accomplished some good things but they aren’t nearly enough.  We need innovative thinking, committed partners, and a vibrant wood products industry to achieve our goal and overcome financial and other challenges we face.  Federal resources alone will never be sufficient.  We need you to observe restrictions and closures and do your best to make your homes defensible (www.firewise.org).  Projects such as the Southwest Jemez Mountains Landscape Restoration project in northern New Mexico and the 16 Springs Stewardship project in the southern New Mexico are two examples of what we can do when we work together.  The Southwest Jemez project is a collaborative, landscape-scale initiative designed to restore fire-adapted ecosystems on 210,000 acres in northern New Mexico.

The area is a key source of water for the greater Albuquerque area and many smaller communities, and is also rich in archeological and other natural resources. Together, with a diverse group of stakeholders, the Santa Fe National Forest is working toward restoration of this landscape across National Forest, National Park Service, state, private, and tribal lands.  The 16 Springs Stewardship is a partnership between the Lincoln National Forest and the Mescalero Apache Tribe and is the first stewardship project conducted under the Tribal Forest Protection Act (TFPA). The goal of the project is to improve forest health, and reduce hazardous fuels and associated fire risk to tribal lands, the community of 16 Springs, the Village of Ruidoso (rated the most at risk community in New Mexico and number two on the list of most at risk communities in the nation), and National Forest System lands. The 16 Springs Stewardship project, currently underway, includes the 16 Springs (Otero County) and Perk/Grindstone (Ruidoso, Lincoln County) project areas on the Lincoln National Forest.

I ask for your support, your energy, and your ideas to help us meet this challenge.  We stand ready with your help… to both fight fires and to restore forest health to make fires a more manageable part of the future.

Corbin Newman was assigned to the position of Regional Forester for the Southwestern Region of the U.S. Forest Service in December 2007. Newman has held numerous positions at all levels of the Forest Service—in both the eastern and western parts of the country—during his 35-year career.


Three Free Trade Agreements Are Clunkers – And They Need Some Courage

Posted on 13. Jul, 2011 by Stephan Helgesen in Economy, Politics

The number of American workers and friends of labor who, for all the right factual reasons, continue to stand against the three pending Free Trade Agreements (or FTAs) with South Korea, Panama and Colombia are legion.  Many just aren’t as public as the likes of Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH); Tom Buffenbarger, President of the Machinists and Aerospace Workers Union; Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), and Leo Gerard, President of the Steelworkers Union, who’ve been leading the fights against these FTAs.  I also wrote a lengthy post for this space back on November 23 entitled “The South Korea FTA — It May Be Free, But It Sure Isn’t Fair,” which I think was similarly sound and grounded.

It’s pretty clear, however, that ‘right factual reasons’ not to approve these three FTAs are not ‘good enough reasons’ for the administration and some Senators who are now racing to approve these Agreements, which have been languishing in the Senate for roughly the last four years.  Four years of justifiable languishing, in my opinion, because, as Mr. Gerard stated in his June 20 letter to the full Senate, “These three FTAs will undermine our economic recovery, further decimate American manufacturing and jobs and deepen the economic insecurity and devastation faced by workers across the country.

It’s important to list again reasons why each of these Agreements is flawed, but in the now strong likelihood that such reasons aren’t any more persuasive this time around, I want to follow up later in this piece with Mr. Gerard’s contention that: “Promises made by administrations past and present touting the benefits of free trade have simply not materialized for America’s manufacturing workers.” We’ve just completed some analysis that shows his statement couldn’t be any truer.

So, with proper attribution to my friends named above, especially the Steelworkers, and as our own analysis shows, each of these proposed FTAs is deeply flawed.  And by far the biggest flaw common to each – and the most important – is the failure to focus on “net exports.”  Sure, U.S. exports to each country will increase, albeit likely not nearly to the extent promised, but corresponding imports into the U.S. from these countries will in each case grow faster.  Net exports will be negative, and thus on balance, even more American jobs will be lost overseas.

No perspective on trade is more important than “net exports”, yet no perspective has been more overlooked over the years, most recently by President Obama’s misguided commitment to doubling “gross” (rather than “net”) exports over the next five years and by these three FTAs. Specific problems with each proposed Agreement, most notably the one with Korea, include the following:

The Korea-US (KORUS) Free Trade Agreement:

• Notwithstanding KORUS, the Korean market will remain one of the toughest markets in the world for the U.S. to compete in because of tariffs and myriad non-tariff barriers.

• In return for some relatively modest allowances associated with American grain and beef exports, KRUS will a-reciprocally increase our trade deficit in seven high-paying manufacturing sectors, according to our own International Trade Commission.  The Economic Policy Institute estimates that KORUS will cause the loss of at least 159,000 jobs.

• In 2009 (the latest year for which I have data, although 2010 is reported to be similar), the United States imported products valued at $39.2 billion from Korea while it exported $28.6 billion, an already obvious trade deficit for us of $10.6 billion.  As a major part of this deficit, U.S. carmakers sold vehicles worth $161 million to Korea in 2009, while Korea’s manufacturers, led by Hyundai Motor and its sister company, Kia Motors, earned a staggering $5.7 billion from their exports to America.  In the first nine months of 2010, U.S. automobile manufacturers exported 10,162 vehicles to Korea, while Korean manufacturers exported an almost unbelievable 449,403 cars to us.  Yet under the proposed FTA, the most that U.S. auto manufacturers could realistically ever hope to export to Korea is around 50,000 vehicles a year given the myriad barriers which Korea has set up to protect its domestic auto manufacturers.

• The new European Union free-trade accord with Seoul that goes into effect this month has none of the fundamental flaws that make our proposed FTA bark like a dog.

• KORUS allows for Korean dumped or subsidized components to be shipped to the U.S. from third countries, it does not address Korea’s ongoing currency manipulation, and it fails to include a comprehensive annual review mechanism to ensure that its provisions are fully and faithfully enforced.

The US-Panama Free Trade Agreement:

• The Panama FTA fails to reform the existing FTA approach to investment which allows Panamanian investors to challenge many of our most important health, safety, environmental and other laws.  It also fails to ensure adequate provision of labor rights.

• The FTA does not do enough to address Panama’s historic role as an illegal tax haven and center for so-called narco-trafficking.

The US-Colombia Free Trade Agreement:

Even though unacceptable extreme violence against union leaders and labor activists continues and workers are often denied their most basic organizing rights, the so-called “Action Plan” to ensure labor rights is not part of the Colombia FTA.  As a result, Colombia’s adherence to its terms is subject only to the discretion of this and future U.S. administrations.

FTAs were a popular mainstay of the last three Republican Presidents, and regrettably even President Clinton, urged on by the consummate free-trader Bob Rubin, embraced them as well, especially in his case NAFTA.  The problem is that there are painful differences between balanced and fair FTAs and unfair FTAs, and we’ve seldom seen a fair one since 1985, certainly not one that actually increased rather than lost American jobs.

And while I applaud those in Congress who, while debating these FTAs, are at once trying to extend and better fund our Trade Adjustment Assistance (or TAA) program which assists U.S. workers who’ve lost their jobs as a result of trade agreements, enhancing TAA is itself not nearly enough of a tradeoff for approving these three woefully under-negotiated FTAs.  This said, Senator Brown is spot on when he says that it is “morally reprehensible that the far right of the Republican Party doesn’t seem to think that [Congress has] any responsibility for people who lose their jobs because of Congress’s actions on trade.”

Indeed, the only standard that should govern in considering a new FTA is whether it’s in the best interests of American workers and the U.S. economy, and the three FTAs on the table are clearly not.  Unfortunately, my gut tells me that despite ‘substance’ being strongly in favor of rejecting each Agreement, the fates of these three FTAs are going to be determined by the selfish political agendas of America’s multinational corporations and major banks unless Congress has some more arrows to shoot at them.  In my opinion, the best remaining opportunity to beat these Agreements back is to therefore forcefully show, as Leo Gerard contends, that the promises of job growth from previous pacts have indeed been empty ones.

Sam Sherraden of the New America Foundation, who is one of the great young talents in trade analysis, and I have looked carefully at the eleven in-effect multilateral and bilateral Free Trade Agreements enacted since 1985, when the U.S. entered into its first ever, with Israel.  These Agreements, which involve seventeen countries, range from quite small (Bahrain in 2004) to extremely material (NAFTA in 1994 and CAFTA in 2004).  While promises associated with FTAs are sometimes difficult to assess, looking back at all of our previous bilateral and multilateral trade agreements, these are the facts and, in one case, our observation:

• None of the eleven Agreements has come close to meeting the fundamental promises made to the American people about the increase in U.S. net exports and the creation of American jobs which it would produce.  This said, for the smaller FTAs it seems not inappropriate, however, to consider non-economic factors provided U.S. values are not compromised (as would be the case with the proposed Colombia FTA).

• The two multilateral FTAs – NAFTA and CAFTA – are each a particular mess against the promises made to gain approval.  As I’ve written repeatedly, ‘one size never fits all’ in trade agreements, especially when the differences in relative development are extreme (NAFTA) or when the export mix among the countries is extreme (CAFTA).  The failures of NAFTA and CAFTA to perform even remotely as promised argue strongly against advancing the Doha Round as currently structured.

–  From the year before NAFTA was signed (1993) to five years later, the U.S. trade deficit with Canada actually widened from $13.4 billion to $23.9 billion.  During the same time period, America’s trade balance with Mexico went from a surplus of $900 million to a deficit of $17.1 billion.  By 2010, the U.S trade deficit with Canada and Mexico was $32.2 billion and $68.6 billion, respectively.

– From 2003, the year before CAFTA was signed, to five years later, U.S. net exports to the five CAFTA member countries (Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua) went from a $2.24 billion deficit to a $2.79 billion dollar deficit, a deterioration in the trade balance of $556 million.

• Imports from only 2 of the 9 FTA bilateral partners (Chile and Israel) grew faster than imports from the rest of the world.

• Out of the 9 bilateral FTAs, exports to 5 of them – albeit all smallish except for Chile – grew faster than U.S. exports to the rest of the world grew.

• Smallish FTAs are negligible in terms of America’s overall trade balance and have little potential to be a driver of exports and job creation.  Even with Australia, which is a very large bilateral U.S. trade partner, the U.S. trade balance only improved by $6.6 billion from 2004-2009 (which does not take into account economic growth during this period).

• When assessing the likely outcome of the proposed trade agreement with South Korea, one may want to look at Singapore as an example.  Singapore is a highly advanced economy with a trade profile similar to South Korea’s.  In the five years after the FTA with Singapore was signed, U.S. exports grew less than U.S. exports to other parts of the world (a negative sign) while U.S. imports from Singapore grew less than imports from the rest of the world (a positive sign).

Two Conclusions and Three Recommendations:

(i)     Not all future FTAs will necessarily be bad, only those that are concluded along the same lines as the three pending ones.  Notwithstanding, future FTAs are unlikely to significantly increase our net exports and they may in fact lead to a deterioration of the U.S. trade balance.

(ii)   Don’t let a moral imperative like extending TAA alone be exchanged for approval of flawed FTAs that will cost American jobs.

1. Re: Panama, fix the “challenge provisions” of the proposed FTA, tighten up narco-trafficking oversight, and when that’s done, then pass the Agreement.

2. Re: Colombia, make the “Action Plan” a formal part of the proposed FTA, as demanded by Congressman Sander (Sandy) Levin (D-MI) and all other friends of workers worldwide, and when that’s done, then pass the Agreement.

3. Re: Korea, acknowledge that KORUS is deeply, deeply flawed, and use its many flaws, plus the failure of a single one of the eleven FTAs enacted since 1985 – large and small alike – to keep its trade and jobs promises, as the justification for a substantial renegotiation.

Leo Hindery, Jr. is Chairman of the US Economy/Smart Globalization Initiative at the New America Foundation and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.  Currently an investor in media companies, he is the former CEO of Tele-Communications, Inc. (TCI), Liberty Media and their successor AT&T Broadband.  He also serves on the Board of the Huffington Post Investigative Fund.



Troubled times don’t stop DOE from giving $4.5 billion in taxpayer-backed guarantees to solar manufacturer

Posted on 13. Jul, 2011 by Stephan Helgesen in Energy/Environment

Despite a downward trend in the prices at the pump, overall energy costs are rising. While most people could not quote the price they are paying per kilowatt hour—as they can for a gallon of gas, they do know their electricity bills are skyrocketing. They also understand that the government policy of picking winners and losers makes taxpayers the losers.

As legislators fight to show their spending-cutting credentials, folks phoned their Senators in June and expressed enough ire that a Democrat-sponsored amendment easily won bipartisan support: by a margin of 73-27 the Senate voted to end ethanol subsidies. The Feinstein amendment was attached to a bill that did not pass and, therefore didn’t change anything. Its importance is mostly symbolic and represents more than just ethanol.  People are paying attention. They are tired of paying subsidies for something that has been receiving taxpayer dollars for decades and will, hopefully, eventually, be cost-effective—but to date doesn’t make economic sense.

In the midst of this anti-spending mood, the Obama administration and the Department of Energy (DOE) pushed through a subsidy with career-ending potential for elected officials who’ve repeatedly come out against such ploys. Instead, bureaucrats with no direct accountability have approved sending $4.5 billion in stimulus funds to one anointed industry (solar), in one golden state (California), and all to one lucky company (First Solar). Called a “loan guarantee,” the DOE, has agreed to back three First Solar projects in California.

First Solar, a leading manufacturer of thin film photovoltaic—also known as thin-film solar panels, will build three solar power plants in Southern California using cadmium telluride rather than the more common silicon. (Cadmium is a toxic element, related to mercury and generally recovered as a byproduct from zinc mining, with long term safety and disposal issues.) First Solar has manufacturing facilities in Ohio, Germany, and Malaysia. The 20 million solar panels for the California power plants are scheduled to come from the Ohio plant and a new plant to be built in Arizona. Founded in 1999, First Solar began commercial production in 2002 and went public in 2005. Upon word of the DOE decision, their stock price increased. Should First Solar default on the loan, taxpayers will be on the hook for 80% of the $4.5 billion.

Secretary of Energy, Steven Chu, touts the job creating benefits of the stimulus expenditure, “These projects will bring immediate jobs to California in addition to hundreds more across the supply chain.” The DOE press release states, “The projects will create a combined 1,400 jobs in California during peak construction.” So, maybe, the $4.5 billion will create 2000 short-term jobs. Do the math. These are some very expensive jobs—similar to the $278,000 per stimulus job created announced on July 1.

No one is opposed to creating jobs, we know we need them. But throwing government (taxpayer) money at the problem is expensive and ineffective. In Massachusetts, Evergreen Solar, a solar panel manufacturer, received $58 million in state and federal grants, loans and land incentives. Evergreen was touted as the key to the state’s economic future in clean energy. The Devens, MA, plant employed 800 people—but they’re all out of work now. In little more than three years, all of the government money is gone, the plant is closed, and the state is stuck with the losses—but Evergreen Solar is not out of business. They are now manufacturing their solar panels in China. So much for job creation.

All of this assumes that First Solar will actually be able to build the proposed solar generation plants and provide “green energy” for California. Despite the green moniker, history, once again, does not foretell and easy road. Due to the massive land use solar power requires per megawatt and the transmission issues related to remote siting, environmental groups who should be supportive, work to block the plants once they near reality.

Even if the proposed plants do get built, the energy they provide will be more expensive and cost taxpayers/consumers more—as a soon to be released report from PNM (electricity power utility based in Albuquerque, NM) makes clear.  Solar power is like rapidly-losing-favor ethanol in many ways. Both have been around for decades. Both make energy more expensive, and we pay for them two times: production and consumption. As we’ve done with ethanol, the public needs to demand that these “winners” stand on their own, or be exposed as whiners, and, if they qualify, get a real loan—from a bank, not taxpayers.

This article was written and submitted by Marita Noon.  Marita Noon is the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). Together they work to educate the public and influence policy makers regarding energy, its role in freedom, and the American way of life. Combining energy, news, politics, and, the environment through public events, speaking engagements, and media, the organizations’ combined efforts serve as America’s voice for energy. www.EnergyMakesAmericaGreat.org.

Freedom, Profit and Prosperity

Posted on 13. Jul, 2011 by Stephan Helgesen in Politics

A reader sent me 5 photographs of people in Arizona in front of the capitol building. Many American flags had been placed on the ground. Graffiti of some sort was scribbled on some of the flags. Men, women and children were shown striding across the flags, stomping on them, spitting at on them and burning them. There are many things one could say about the mind-set of those who desecrate a nation’s flag.  Intelligence is not one of them.

Desecrating a nation’s flag is not argument to persuade others to your point of view. It is not a demonstration to show that your actions have merit.  It is not even a show of loyalty to an opposing principle, such as those who might rip apart a Nazi flag to show loathing of fascism. To try to debase the flag of the United States by throwing it whole upon the ground and stomping on it, is the attempt of the mindless, savages  who stick pins in dolls, or drink his enemy’s blood—as if such actions were power-enabling.

The flag of the United States is unique among nations.  And most people know it.  It symbolizes freedom. No other flag, save perhaps that of Great Britain, carries so powerful a message.  To desecrate the flag of the United States of America means one has no regard for freedom, and more: no regard for the human life freedom protects and advances. What does freedom mean in action?  Freedom is the absence of coercion; therefore, in action it is the opportunity to live one’s life, to achieve happiness. What provides us with material happiness?  Prosperity.  How is prosperity achieved?  Through profit.

When I was a free-lance artist working in Manhattan, in order to live, profit was essential. I had to have money to buy oils, canvas and stretchers, illustration board, brushes, and all the other materials and equipment necessary to running an artist studio. There were also models’ fees to pay and my own rent and groceries. When I was paid for my illustrations and/or paintings, the price I received had to be at least a bit more than my combined expenses. To be paid less than my expenses, or to break even meant I could continue to produce paintings only by going into debt.  If such a situation continues for any length of time, the business goes into bankruptcy.

Profit, even a little profit margin, kept me afloat. The same is true of any business whether you are a free-lance businessperson, or own a small company or a middle-size or large one.

Profit is not “surplus income.”  It is not “gravy.”  It is the muscle and bone, the essential  means of doing business. It is the means to keep on going.  Without profit, business is impossible. If one takes in a bit more than the cost of one’s own expenses, it means the business can stay afloat without undue strain.  If it earns a lot more than its expenses, it can expand, offering more values to a larger clientele, creating more jobs improving services and so forth. Many people, including businesspeople, do not understand the virtue, purpose and need of profit.  We have been led to believe profit is somehow “dirty” or “usurious” as if making more than one’s expenses was somehow “dishonest.”

The truth is, profit is essential to doing business. Profit, since it supports a businessperson’s life and that of his employees, is a virtue. By means of efficiently producing values and keeping a business’ product desirable, profit says: “You’re doing good. You’re benefiting life.” The attack on profit is ancient. Today, Leftist habitually attack profit as a sure-fire way to create conflict between those who earn their own way and those who do not.  Mr. Obama does the same, feverishly trying to make Americans hate “the rich.”  Such individuals try to convince us profit is some kind of evil that destroys society.  The opposite is true.  Profit is what makes prosperity, improving and increasing the number of values that businesses offer—whether in manufacturing or in service industries.  It is profit that raises the standard of living for everyone.

It is the lack of profit that is destructive. A lack of profit destroys a business, a neighborhood and a society.  But profit requires individual freedom.  One look at the difference between North and South Korea, or again, during the Berlin Wall the difference between East and West Berlin, attests to that. Those cities demonstrate the individual’s need of freedom and the prosperity possible when he has it.  Profit generates prosperity.

Our flag symbolizes freedom.  It is the portable display of what our Statue of Liberty represents.  When one sees the stars and stripes, one immediately thinks of freedom, of opportunity, of happiness. People the world over know that. Those who desecrate the flag of the United States of America are making an explicit statement. They are not stomping upon a mere piece of fabric.  They are stomping on a symbol of man’s need for freedom and the best that he can achieve.  What do you call a creature who seeks to destroy the best in man? A criminal? A heinous monster?  That which feeds and breeds upon a corpse?  Whatever description you choose, he is a killer.

Not even anger is any longer possible toward such creatures.  What remains is only a cold contempt re-enforcing a determined resolve to never give in to those who would kill freedom, the profit it can generate and the prosperity that follows.

Written and submitted by: Sylvia Bokor.  Sylvia is an artist, writer and advocate of capitalism. She is an active supporter of the Tea Party, and writes a newsletter focuses on current political events. If you would like to receive SylviaBokorComments directly, simply e-mail bokor1933@aol.com with SUBSCRIBE typed in the subject box.  Your e-mail address will be held confidential and to protect your privacy will only be sent as a “blind copy.”


Public Wants Truth on Voter Fraud

Posted on 13. Jul, 2011 by Stephan Helgesen in Politics

When New Mexicans read that Secretary of State Dianna Duran had turned over 64,000 cases to Public Safety Director Gordon Eden to investigate for fraud, people cheered.  I have been asked numerous times since the news of the investigation broke, “Who are the people criticizing this?”  The critic I am most familiar with is Daniel Ivey-Soto. Ivey-Soto is a paid lobbyist for the New Mexico Association of County Clerks Affiliate.

Ivey Soto has been quoted saying, “Why not ask the county clerks who are responsible for the integrity of elections for their help?” The answer is simple. When it comes to investigations, all entities should be excused from investigating themselves. Also, if the county clerks had the manpower to uncover problems they would have done it. I know about Ivey-Soto’s stands because of his testimonies before the House Voters and Elections Committee. In 2009, Ivey-Soto told the committee that a bill sponsored by Rep. Dianne Hamilton requiring a photo ID to vote was problematic because it included absentee voting. He said it was an overhaul of our election system, and needed study. In 2011, Ivey-Soto told the same committee that a bill sponsored by Hamilton was problematic because it did not include absentee voters, which equated discrimination. Absentee voters cannot be treated differently from those who vote in person. But they already are. Some obvious differences:

●   Absentee voters can vote earlier than anyone else.

●   Absentee voters must pay postage.

●   Absentee voters can vote at midnight in the nude.

You get the idea. Ivey-Soto is a fan of a law that would allow people to register and vote on the same day during early voting. No photo ID required. He has asserted requiring citizens to produce a utility bill or bank statement is enough to safeguard our process against fraud. This is inane.

Anyone can design a bill on a computer. Special interest groups could print out stacks of counterfeit statements, and their people would have nearly a month to cast fraudulent ballots before an election. Hit-and-run voting, with no way to detect it.  Such bills have been introduced in the past and labeled “election reform.” New Mexicans are not stupid. Still, I’m sure during the next session we will see more of these   smoke-and-mirror tricks.

When it has been pointed out to Ivey-Soto that the opportunity for fraud would be profound under such a system, he has asserted that there is no solid evidence of fraud and this would make voting much easier for our citizens.  Now I believe voting should not be arduous, but surely there should be more to participating in our democracy than rolling out of bed, belching and casting a ballot. Additionally, Ivey-Soto’s current stand that there is no fraud contradicts a statement he made when he was the New Mexico elections director in 2007. He was asked at a meeting of the state’s county clerks how same-day registration would not enable voter fraud. The Albuquerque Tribune printed his response: “I can’t. But I can’t guarantee there isn’t fraud going on now. … I   know people who have gone on Election Day and voted multiple times because they knew people who weren’t going to vote. I’ve never participated in that, but I know people who have.”

And with this knowledge he continues to support more lax election laws? Three bills were introduced this year for a photo ID requirement to vote. Free IDs would be given to citizens who don’t have one. American Indians could provide a tribal identification card in lieu of a photo ID.  Ivey-Soto, on behalf of the New Mexico County Clerks Affiliate, opposed them all.  I stand with Dianna Duran and Gordon Eden. Whatever they find, I’m sure many will criticize the results of their investigation. However, we, the people, want the truth.

Written and submitted by: Victor S. Contreras Jr., Chairman, Hispanos Unidos. He can be reached at: cvitcon@aol.com

Redistricting Process to be Examined on “Issues and Answers”

Posted on 08. Jul, 2011 by Stephan Helgesen in Politics

The New Mexico Legislative Redistricting Committee  Co-Chair Senator Linda M. Lopez (D- 11, Bernalillo ) and Redistricting Committee member Senator Sander Rue (R-23, Bernalillo and Sandoval) discuss the redistricting process on the  “Issues and Answers with Diane Kinderwater” public affairs television program this Saturday, July 9, 2011 at 10:00 p.m. on KCHF TV channel 11.

The Legislative Redistricting Committee will hold public hearings throughout New Mexico to gather public input on various proposed plans to redraw the boundaries of New Mexico’s  three U.S. Congressional seats as well as all state Legislative districts, Public Regulation Commission districts and the Public Education Commission  districts. After the U.S. Census is tabulated every ten years, redistricting of various governmental seats takes place. The Redistricting Committee will recommend new boundaries for the various seats to a Special Session of the State Legislature which will approve the new boundaries. The Special Session is expected to be called this September after the public hearings are held in July and August. The Committee will make its recommendations based on the 2010 decennial census, the redistricting guidelines adopted by the New Mexico Legislative Council on January 17, 2011 and testimony received from people interested in the issue.

The Redistricting Committee Public Hearing schedule is: July 18 Clovis, July 19 Roswell, July 20 Las Cruces, August 3 Acoma Pueblo, August 4  Gallup, August 5 Farmington, August 15 Albuquerque, August 16 Rio Rancho, August 30 Las Vegas, August 31 Santa Fe

For more information, contact: diane.kinderwater@nmlegis.gov

Management Responsibility to Employees Demands NLRB Rule Change

Posted on 08. Jul, 2011 by Stephan Helgesen in Economy

Back in March I penned a piece titled “Unions present best path back to prosperity” (Financial Times, 3-01-11), and followed it later with a piece titled “Note to Boeing’s Jim McNerney: All we are saying is give the truth – and your union – a chance” (Huffington Post, 5-24-11). Apparently, the folks at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the CEOs at the Business Roundtable didn’t read them, because each pro-big business organization is today pulling out all the stops to defeat a proposed rule change by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) that would do nothing more than:

1.  Establish a fixed time – 7 days after the employer is served with notice, absent special circumstances – for the pre-election hearing process.

2.  Require parties to identify areas of genuine dispute before presenting evidence on them at the hearing.

3.  Hear appeals only after an election and limit the Board’s appellate review to circumstances where there are compelling grounds for review.

4. Require that corporations produce the telephone numbers and email addresses of its employees, as well as work locations, shifts and job classifications.

5. Allow for electronic communication.

Throughout my long business career as a Fortune 500 company CEO and otherwise, I have held myself to the maxim that when American workers compete on level-playing fields, they and the companies they work for thrive – and the nation prospers, as it did for a full century before unbridled and unfair globalization began to run amok. Now, however, workers everywhere are competing against a combination of illegal foreign subsidies, currency manipulation and shameful environmental practices that swamps any measure of true and fair comparative advantage.  No worker should ever have to work without organizing protections, but especially now.  And anyone who denies this denies the iron fists of management across the industrial bargaining table and, with state and local budgets across the country in grave distress, the no less formidable fist of government across the public-sector collective bargaining table.

Today, with real unemployment at 18%, which is more than twice the misleading official rate, the U.S. needs more, not fewer, union members, because unions represent the best path back to fair dealing.  Without union voices, workers have little or no say in their future, as, on the one hand, multinational corporations each day challenge workers’ immobility with their own almost complete capital and technology mobility; and, on the other hand, state houses and city councils hide behind nearly impenetrable bureaucracies.

Expanding, not shrinking, union membership will be one of the surest signposts on the road back to income equality and fairness in employment in America.  The proposed rule change of the NLRB is not an option; rather it is an imperative to this outcome.  And any corporate CEO who says otherwise is denying his concurrent, equal responsibility to shareholders, employees and the nation.

Leo Hindery, Jr. is Chairman of the US Economy/Smart Globalization Initiative at the New America Foundation and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.  Currently an investor in media companies, he is the former CEO of Tele-Communications, Inc. (TCI), Liberty Media and their successor AT&T Broadband.  He also serves on the Board of the Huffington Post Investigative Fund.


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