January 29, 2023

Headlines from Around the State – Aug 13, 2011

Posted on 13. Aug, 2011 by Stephan Helgesen in NM

To read these stories, find the newspaper on the right and click on it.

Alamogordo Daily News – Big Give Awards Party

ABQ Journal – More Legal Tussles in Astorga Case

Artesia News – Council Approves New Zoning Along Richardson

Carlsbad Current Argus – Alleged Shoplifting Incident Results in Charges

Cibola County Beacon – Commissioners Require Retraction Before Helping City

Farmington Daily Times – War Heroes to be Honored

Deming Headlight – Charter School Introduces Principal Reeves

Gallup Independent – Candyman Sells Awesome Native Treats

Lamonitor – In Search of a Fire Starter

Las Cruces Bulletin – Say Goodbye to the Summer

Las Cruces Sun News – Sunland Park Council Votes to Fire Chew

Mountain View Telegraph – NM 344 lane fix in place for now

Portales News Tribune – 2011 Curry County Fair Schedule

Quay County Sun – Field Day Focuses On Water

Raton Range – City Eyes Possible Racino Options

Rio Grande Sun – Bond Oversight Committee MIA

Rio Rancho Observer – From the Court to the Class

Roswell Daily Record – RISD Shows Off Sunset at Open House

Ruidoso News – Program could be too Religious

Sangre de Cristo Chronicle – Las Vegas Event Celebrates Town’s Spanish Heritage

Santa Fe New Mexican – Block Documents Show Questionable Purchases

Sierra County Sentinel – City Holds Quick, Productive Session

Taos News – Questa Village Administrator Suspended

Straight talk on Exporting “Ten Hidden Truths” 1st in a series of articles on exporting

Posted on 13. Aug, 2011 by Stephan Helgesen in Economy

I recently reviewed the marketing materials from another export consultant, and at the risk of sounding like I’m suffering from ‘competitor envy,’ I must say that I’m weary of seeing ‘export academics’ theorize  - using a lot of fancy Harvard School of Business palaver – about how to make money selling overseas.

The bald truth is that exporting is not easy, and unlike a university course where students risk nothing more than a failing grade by not applying themselves, real exporting risks real money from real businesses. So what do companies with good products do if they want to export? Read on for Ten Hidden Truths About Exporting

Hidden Truth #1 Being half-hearted about exporting will assure your failure.

In my 25 years of working with American exporters both overseas and here at home, one exporting truism remains the biggest roadblock to success. It is not being totally committed to ‘go the distance’ with an exporting thrust. Everybody in the company must buy in to the concept of exporting from the CEO on down. (This goes for the investors as well.) Without this commitment you might as well stay home and concentrate on expanding your existing market share.

Hidden Truth #2 The only successful export plan is one that is developed from the ground up.

If you base your export plan on your domestic plan, you will only create more frustration for yourself as you constantly try to adapt it to the new-found realities of your chosen export market. Think of building a car for speed only to find out that your customers want optimal fuel economy and you can see how the cost of re-engineering will suck precious dollars out of your budget.

Hidden Truth #3 Good market research must be translated to be effective.

To get the most value from your research you need to work with someone who knows the markets, can verify the data and translate it into a strong selling proposition. It’s vital to have good commercial intelligence, but many companies make the mistake of not checking it out with professionals who have lived and worked in those markets or know people who have. Most of us have seen more than our share of statistical tables, but only a few of us know how those statistics have been compiled or what they really mean. Translating important data into something meaningful for your company should be done with the help of a seasoned professional working hand-in-hand with your key people.

Hidden Truth #4 Advertising is not marketing and vice-versa.

The old saying, “A man who represents himself in court has a fool for a lawyer” may be a bit too harsh to apply to those who believe that advertising and marketing are interchangeable elements of an export strategy and can simply be ‘tweaked’ to succeed in foreign markets, but it’s not too far off. To use a medical analogy, think of marketing as the diagnosis of the patient and advertising as the specific treatment to bring things into equilibrium. Both are critical to the patient’s well-being; one is an informed assessment, the other is a problem-solving agent designed to affect change. Every good marketing plan depends on a good advertising strategy to make it pay off and vice-versa.

Hidden Truth #5 Free advice is usually worth every penny that it costs.

Relying too heavily on government-supplied data or government export assistance is a risky proposition, not because it’s bad advice, but because it’s usually too general and doesn’t take into account the details of your operation or your specific goals and objectives. Free advice may actually end up costing you more than you bargained for when the bill from a failed exporting thrust comes due. A small up-front investment with a qualified export consultant can save you plenty down the road.

Hidden Truth #6 Don’t buy something from someone you don’t know.

When contemplating something as big as exporting, we should never be seduced by fancy Venn diagrams, Mind Maps or colorful Powerpoint presentations. In exporting, “All that glitters is definitely not gold.” Consultants can be very persuasive, and the average company ought to take precautions not to hire ones that only know the theories of exporting. Instead, look for those who’ve ‘walked the walk’ and have a track record. Sit down with them and pick their brains. Make them tell you a story about one of their better known foreign markets and ask them some pointed questions. Then, if you trust them, hire them to do something for you to test their abilities before you jump in with both feet.

Hidden Truth #7 There are many languages of exporting.

Some concepts translate well overseas; some don’t. We’ve all heard the horror stories about big companies that have made colossal blunders overseas by not checking out the meaning of American product names in the target foreign language before launching them. While those kinds of mistakes can be hazardous to your product’s health, there are other languages that are just as important to master, such as the ones that distributors, agents, regulators and government officials speak. Crafting the appropriate messages for these groups must be done with great care.

Hidden Truth #8 Your distributor or agent is not your friend.

Foreign agents and distributors are businesspeople, first and foremost. While you might be flattered by their interest in your products or in representing you, always keep in mind that they must make a profit on your relationship, so you should do your best to make it possible for them. Start with giving them a territory with good potential and set some reasonable sales targets. Couple that with good performance measures/metrics and ABOVE ALL a solid contract that can be adjudicated (if necessary) in the U.S. Like good fences, detailed contracts are there for your protection and make for lasting relationships. And, who knows, maybe in time you will become friends.

Hidden Truth #9 Letting go is the first step towards hanging on.

Appoint a key person in your company to handle the export side of your business. If you are busy running your company, I can promise you that you will not have enough time to handle your exporting thrust alone. Many small businesses reach the ‘let go level’ (the point at which the owner or CEO must relinquish some control to other key people in the organization) at different times. Plan for it by naming a trustworthy and competent person in your company to take on the task of ‘Export Manager’ and have him (or her) report directly to you. Ask your consultant to work closely with you and get an assessment of your Export Manager’s progress at different stages of the process. This way, your export thrust will have a greater chance of succeeding and you will end up building a division within your company that can be a real contributor to your bottom line.

Hidden Truth #10 The biggest mistake is the one you don’t correct.

Make no mistake, you will make mistakes. That’s the nature of business and of life. The trick is not to keep making the same ones over and over again. Minimize your risk by observing these Ten Hidden Truths and you will soon want to apply them to other areas of your business. Remember that thousands of companies have become successful in foreign markets before you. Once you cash that first check from your first overseas’ sale, you’ll want more. Exporting is truly your passport to a whole other world. Book your ticket now. The markets are waiting for you.

Submitted by Stephan Helgesen, a 20-year veteran of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service of the U.S. Department of Commerce who has worked in over 24 countries advising exporters on three continents. He is currently the Honorary Consul for Germany in New Mexico and CEO of 2nd Opinion Marketing & Communications, an export consultancy. He can be reached at: helgesen@2ndopinionmarketing.com

Stephan J. Helgesen





copyright © 2011 Second Opinion Marketing & Communications

The bad and the ugly of the airwaves

Posted on 11. Aug, 2011 by Stephan Helgesen in Social/Cultural

The recession has hurt millions of Americans, but I’m wondering just how much more pain we can take! I’m talking about radio and TV commercials. I’m an avid radio listener or used to be before the radio stations began loading us up with 5-6 commercials in between 3-4 minute talk segments. If that weren’t bad enough, the commercials are all alike!

They go something like this… “Do you have $10,000 worth of credit card debt? Are you afraid the repo man is going to come to take away your Nash Rambler from your driveway? Is the IRS getting ready to slap a lien on your prosthetic leg for unpaid taxes? If so, call Debt Erasers at 505/555-5555. That’s 505/555-5555. Once more, 505/555-5555. Did I say 505/555-5555? I did.”

The announcers all sound alike, too. They have that Armageddon voice that makes you want to dig a  deep hole and bury yourself alive just to escape the rest of the commercial which goes something like this. “Experts agree that the economy as we know it will falter and eventually self-destruct. Your investments are like so much shifting sand. While the world disintegrates around you and all our institutions fail, you will be sitting pretty if you only buy _______ (fill in the blank). With ______ (fill in the blank), you’ll have the comfort that comes from a secure investment while your neighbors are dying like flies. Just pick up the phone today and call _______ (fill in the number and repeat it at least four times throughout the rest of the commercial).  Don’t delay. Someone could be walking up your driveway at this very moment.”

These debt reduction companies and financial carpetbaggers are swarming around the airwaves like flies on cow pies. Every time I hear something positive during a talk show (which is seldom these days), I’m body-slammed by these fear mongers. Then there’s the car dealers who must wake up every morning to Tony Robbins tapes. What else could explain their enthusiasm?  “Hi, this is Dennis Slyman and I’m going to tell you about this absolutely fantastic super-tremendous deal we have on the all-electric, hydrogen, bio-fuel car, the ‘Unbelieveable 2.’

The U2 has just been voted the world’s most versatile green vehicle by Car and Rutabaga Magazine. Not only will it get 100 miles to a liter of V8 juice, but it will also double as a blender for your health food drinks. Why not stop in to our showroom and test-drive this beauty? With a $55,000 price tag – that’s after the generous $45,000 U.S. government rebate – you can own the new age car of choice among politically-correct drivers! We’re open 24 hours at Louisiana and Lomas. Come on down! Plenty of balloons for the kiddies!”

I tried two approaches to avoiding the commercials but neither worked. The first was to turn off the radio for five minutes at a time, but I kept forgetting to turn it on again. The second was the ‘favorite station’ button. I would program the radio for my favorite stations and then switch back and forth the moment the commercials came on. The station producers were too smart for me. They were all running commercials at the same time, so I ended up hearing bits and pieces of commercials which was far more irritating than if I had heard one station’s all the way through.

My absolute most despised commercials, though, are those done by the owners of the establishments, themselves. What possesses these people to think they can do radio stand-up humor? If I hear, “Hi, I’m long-legged Sue and I’m handsome Jose from Exploding Tires on Menaul one more time, I swear I’m going to kidnap the both of them tie them up with inner tubes and dump them on the front lawn of the FCC. Is that over the top?

- Editor


Headlines from Around the State – Aug 11, 2011

Posted on 11. Aug, 2011 by Stephan Helgesen in NM

Headlines from Around the State

Aug 11, 2011

To read these stories, find the corresponding newspaper on the right and click on it.

Alamogordo Daily News – Carlsbad nears critical water situation

ABQ Journal – License Checks Hit Snags

Artesia News – 17 incoming APS teachers

Carlsbad Current Argus – Councilors hear possible impact of redistricting

Cibola Beacon – Detention officer placed on admin leave

Farmington Daily Times – Oil drilling possible in 2012

Deming Headlight – Jam Fest welcomes musicians of all walks

Gallup Independent – Large crowd waiting for veterinarian in Window Rock

Lamonitor – LAHS construction down to wire

Las Cruces Bulletin – County to redraw district boundaries

Las Cruces Sun News – MVEDA Manufacturing is on the comeback trail

Mountain View Telegraph – NM 344 lane fix in place for now

Portales  News Tribune – Portales doctor acquitted on one charge, guilty on another

Quay County Sun – Rattlers come home: Tucumcari HS Reunion draws 500

Raton Range – How does your garden grow?

Rio Grande Sun – Two city liquor stores held up

Rio Rancho Observer – Technology spurs RRPS discussion

Roswell Daily Record – Officials under fire in possible ambush

Ruidoso News – Fire burning in southern Lincoln County

Sangre de Cristo Chronicle – Local professionals hit the slammer at Angel Fire Chamber event

Santa Fe New Mexican – Man dies from injury in scuffle near Plaza

Sierra County Sentinel – County urged to assert authority

Taos News – Piano man: Teen pianist serenades Taos Fechin Inn

A Vision for Economic Renewal – An American Jobs Agenda

Posted on 11. Aug, 2011 by Stephan Helgesen in Economy, Politics

America is facing a catastrophic jobs crisis. Not since the Great Depression has official unemployment hovered above nine percent – where it is today – for more than 20 months. Millions of American have given up looking for a job altogether.  Even worse, real unemployment is more than 18%.  Yet Washington overall has obviously yet to embrace a large-scale job creation agenda. Even if we reach consensus around the deficit – the only economic issue even getting any attention these days – it will do little to help the 29 million Americans who are unemployed in real terms. If we do not seriously tackle jobs, our country may never regain its competitive global edge.

I recently co-chaired, along with Leo W. Gerard – who is International President of the United Steelworkers and a member of the executive council of the AFL-CIO – a twenty-person Task Force on Job Creation seeking real solutions to the jobs crisis plaguing our country. This group of policy makers, economists, business and labor leaders developed a series of 15 immediate recommendations for reversing the crisis, outlined in a new report, “Vision for Economic Renewal: An American Jobs Agenda.”

We found there are six vital policy areas that our government must address in order to create millions more jobs now: manufacturing, trade and globalization, U.S.-China trade, the infrastructure crisis, jobs in the green economy, and youth unemployment.

Washington is often a city of Chicken Littles, which makes ringing the alarm bell difficult.  But once Washington wakes up from its deficit hangover, politicians will realize something that most Americans have known for months:  The sky has already fallen.

Here’s what we found we can and need to do:


America’s manufacturing sector must be a cornerstone of the nation’s economy and thus one of the essential drivers of the recovery we are still searching for. Yet manufacturing remains in a decades-long free fall, with, like most other sectors, stagnant wages for more than a decade. In just three years, our manufacturing sector has lost over 2.5 million jobs, and over the last decade, we’ve lost more than 6 million.  The continuing decline of manufacturing will limit job growth and jeopardize our national standing. Industries that were once great contributors to our country – auto manufacturing, shipbuilding and machine tools fabrication – are barely shadows of what they once were.  Meanwhile, jobs in other leading manufacturing sectors, like aerospace, are being off-shored every day.

Why the decline? One of the fundamental reasons is simply that the U.S. lacks a national manufacturing strategy that integrates policies around tax and investment, R&D, domestic procurement and currency valuation. And we lack any plan for how to restore this sector. Our task force identified several ways to bring back this sector:

- Buy-Domestic Procurement requirements

No single measure would do more to help resuscitate U.S. employment, particularly in manufacturing, than an encompassing buy-domestic government procurement requirement. All infrastructure projects funded and guaranteed by the federal government and the proposed infrastructure bank should require purchases to be made in America rather than overseas, consistent with our international trade agreements. As well, to qualify as “Made in America,” at least 75 percent of the content should have to be manufactured within our borders. To make that happen, Congress should require domestic content calculations to be effective and transparent. Domestic sourcing requirements for all government procurement programs (e.g., Buy American, the Recovery Act) and programs that support U.S. exports (e.g., the U.S. Export-Impact Bank) should also be reviewed to ensure that contracting agencies are obeying and implementing the requirements. The Defense Authorization Bill passed in December that requires the Pentagon to buy solar panels from U.S. manufacturers is a good model. In addition, Congress needs to enact an all-of-government successor to the 1933 Buy American Act.

- Link an investment tax credit directly to jobs.  A 10% investment tax credit for the rehabilitation and renovation of existing manufacturing facilities would pump billions of dollars into modernizing America’s plants.  And with an additional investment tax credit for new equipment, businesses could retool their factories.

- Determine which government programs create and support U.S. jobs. We should require those bidding or applying for government contracts, assistance, grants or awards to provide detailed Employment Impact Statements in the application process. Results would factor into the outcome of the project or transaction.

Trade and Globalization

Our trade policies and unaddressed ills from globalization exacerbate America’s manufacturing industry woes. Just since 2001, the U.S. has had massive annual trade deficits totaling over $6 trillion. Yet the U.S. has no precise strategy to compete in a globalized economy.

In many parts of the developing world, workers toil for minimal pay under harsh conditions because organizing against unfair treatment is prohibited. This cheap labor seduces large multinational companies to move production overseas, where healthcare, pension and environmental costs are minimal. While human rights are plundered, U.S. workers are also losing their jobs. And many of the Asian countries where these jobs are going are manipulating their currencies to keep them undervalued against the dollar and are providing massive illegal subsidies and other unfair trade benefits.

We must mobilize to restore balance and mutual benefit to international trade. Let’s call on our leadership to:

- Restructure the tax code so American companies stay here. Right now, we provide tax incentives for companies to invest overseas, a sure sign that our economy works best for big business instead of for regular Americans. We must fix our tax code so corporations are not rewarded for closing plants and shipping jobs to China. In addition, Congress should offer partial tax rebates on exported goods and impose equivalent taxes on imports.

- Protect national security manufacturing. Today, the U.S. has an $80 billion annual trade deficit with China just for “Advanced Technology Products,” many of which are essential to our national defense. Congress should pass legislation requiring that certain critical items be subject to a national security impact statement before allowing their manufacturing overseas.

- Enact temporary tariffs. Congress should enact temporary tariffs to protect our high-value manufacturing. A temporary policy of import tariffs, coupled with encouragement of foreign direct investment, would provide the U.S. with all the benefits of free trade without promoting a low-wage workforce.

- Create a new Justice Dept. bureau to enforce trade. On the issue of enforcement, an independent office within the Department of Justice would be tougher and more effective at ensuring that our trade agreements are complied with.

- Initiate trade cases under the U.S. trade remedy laws. The U.S. should spearhead an Unfair Trade Strike Force to be deployed when nations violate trade laws.

U.S.-China Trade

It is impossible to overlook China when considering how to correct globalization’s unwanted fallout. The Chinese economy has been growing at ten percent a year for the last 30 years. Such unprecedented economic growth is at the root of China’s dramatic surge in military power, international political weight, and financial influence. These developments, with their economic and geo-political implications, are not simply the outgrowth of free market forces and fair trade. Rather, they stem from sophisticated industrial and mercantilist trade policies, often illegal, that China has instituted to establish its great power status.

The U.S. economy will continue its decline unless our leaders in Washington take immediate action to take on Chinese economic practices.

- Create a White House office to focus on American competitiveness. A transparent office dedicated to gathering independent intelligence on our trade competitiveness with China would improve our economic standing. It would help align trade and tax policy so that private sector incentives match the public interest.

- Pursue a hard line on Chinese economic policy.  From intellectual property theft to restrictions on rare earth mineral exports to extortionist indigenous innovation purchasing policies, China is playing by a different set of rules and we’re doing little about it.  Our government must be willing to challenge and mitigate the disastrous effects of Chinese economic policies on American manufacturing and trade. This should start with a clearer focus from the White House, guided by the independent body recommended above and directed at all federal agencies. Initiatives should include bringing cases in the W.T.O., imposing tariffs when necessary, and requiring rigorous reviews of China’s planned investments in American ports, markets, natural resources and transportation industry.

Infrastructure Crisis

Coincident with the loss of trade and manufacturing is the decline of our nation’s infrastructure.  After years of under-investing in public infrastructure, America faces an infrastructure deficit of $3 trillion that is impeding economic growth and undermining our economy’s efficiency. We need to spend $2.2 trillion over just the next five years to meet America’s core infrastructure needs, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers. But actual spending plans fall far short.

-  Create a levered National Infrastructure Bank. The administration and Congress should create a national infrastructure bank that would be an independent financial institution owned by the government. Able to fund a broad range of infrastructure projects beyond roads, rails and runways, it would make loans and loan guarantees and leverage private capital. It should be able to sell or issue general purpose bonds to raise funds for lending and investment, sell specific project bonds when necessary, and invite private investment, along with state and local government pension plan investments.

Green Economy

Employment opportunities in the “green economy” can provide some relief, although not as much as some project. According to Booz Allen, green projects will create eight million jobs by 2013; the Global Climate Network puts that number at 20 million world-wide by 2030.  Bolstering this segment of our economy will put people to work in manufacturing jobs that have the greatest multiplier effect, and will stimulate more economic growth.  Leaders in Washington must do more to encourage growth in this industry.

- Extend the Cash Grant Program for renewable energy production.  This program converts non-refundable tax credits for renewable energy production into cash grants.  Extending the program until the equity and debt markets recover will help create jobs and avoid further job loss in the industry.

- Lengthen the period of the Advanced Manufacturing Tax Credit.  ARRA authorized up to $2.3 billion in tax credits for investments in qualified advanced energy projects at manufacturing facilities, such as energy storage, electricity transmission, energy conservation technologies, and others.

- Expand Title 17 Loan Guarantee Program. Title 17 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 provides federal loan guarantees for the construction of energy-related facilities that use “new or significantly improved technologies” which are “non-commercial” and have high technological risk. These guarantees lower the cost of capital for these projects. Broadening Title 17 to include energy-efficiency investments would help spur this market and create new jobs.

Youth Employment

The hardest hit among the unemployed are young people. Almost 25 percent of teenagers from 16 to 19 are officially unemployed. For young adults aged 20 to 24, unemployment is nearly 16% – a number not seen since 1948. Many of these disconnected youth are at risk of becoming permanently disengaged from the labor market. Young people who do not have a successful work experience by age 25 are also at greater risk of lifelong poverty.

- Extend the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (W.O.T.C.) beyond August 2011. This law provides small businesses with tax incentives to hire people who might ordinarily struggle to find work – for example, those with lesser skills and veterans. Congress expanded the tax credit in 2009 to include the tax credits for hiring disconnected youth. Our ongoing national youth unemployment demands that this W.O.T.C. provision be extended well beyond August of this year.

Our national leadership is responsible for tackling the extreme real unemployment and stagnant wages crises. President Obama has already shown a strong willingness to reform health care and regulate the financial services industries. Today, however, our nation needs, from all of Washington, that same passion and commitment directed at job creation. It’s time our leaders show the moral courage that defines true leadership and resolve to restore what all good Americans want and need: the security, well-being and self-respect that come from fair employment and wages.

This article was submitted by Leo Hindery, Jr. Leo Hindery Jr. is chair of the Smart Globalization Initiative at the New America Foundation and an investor in media companies. He is the former CEO of AT&T Broadband and its predecessors, Tele-Communications, Inc. and Liberty Media.



“Frailty, thy name is The Unemployed”

Posted on 10. Aug, 2011 by Stephan Helgesen in Economy, Politics, Social/Cultural

With all the sturm und drang in recent weeks over raising the debt ceiling – and with the mediocre agreement now reached between the administration and Congress which irresponsibly only cuts without responsibly raising any new revenues – it’s more than clear that we’ve lost sight of the greatest economic challenge now facing our country, which is the legions of unemployed workers.

With all deference to Shakespeare, “frailty” is not “woman” as Hamlet pronounced.  Rather, “frailty” is the 29.1 million real unemployed workers in this country and their fragile – and, for millions of them, almost hopeless – prospects for gainful re-employment.  A frailty that has been wrought by thirty years of unfair “trickle down” economics, a dozen years of unrestrained greed by our major financial institutions , and the political evolution of the most anti-jobs, anti-manufacturing, unfair trade economic construct imaginable.  It’s one thing to have put our workers in this tragic fix. And in it they are.  It’s entirely another thing for vast numbers of them to have little opportunity of ever finding a way out.

Every month since late 2006, we’ve been tracking for Members of Congress and others, on the same day that BLS puts out its “official” unemployment numbers, the real unemployment figures.  In July 2011 the official BLS unemployment rate was 9.1% covering 13.9 million workers.  In real terms, however, there were actually 29.1 million workers unemployed and the overall rate was a staggering 18.2%, and just since the Inauguration 4.6 million more workers have entered the ranks of the real unemployed.

Every month since 1947 (!!), the Bureau of Labor Statistics consistently fails to include in its “official” unemployment numbers workers who are “part-time-of-necessity” (i.e., the ‘underemployed’) because their hours have been cut back or they are unable to find a full-time job (now a staggering 8.4 mm workers); who are “marginally attached” to the labor force because while wanting a job, they have not searched for one in the past four weeks because of availability, skill or personal reasons (now 2.8 mm workers); or who have removed themselves from the labor force although they “currently want a job” (now 4.0 mm workers).

Officially, the average number of weeks unemployed is 40.4 and the number of workers unemployed a half year or longer is 6.2 million.  The reality is that 30% of the real unemployed – or 8.7 million workers – have actually now been out of work for more than a year.  When considered together, this means that the number of workers unemployed a half year or longer must be at least 10 million and perhaps as many as 13 million. And unless job creation becomes the central focus of the Obama administration and all of government over the next 18 months, this terrible unemployment situation is only likely to get worse as the economy continues to grow at rates far below what is needed to find jobs for new eligible workers.

Instead of a reported meager 1.9% increase in GDP in the first quarter, actual growth was only a negligible 0.4%, and in the second quarter it was just 1.3% (versus a forecasted 1.8%), all when we need annual GDP growth of 3.5% or so just to tread our economic water.  The economic outlook is daunting enough if you are one of these 29 million Americans who want a job.  But as they look for work in a barren job market, hopelessness comes flooding in for a majority of them as they encounter insidious and increasingly pervasive forms of discrimination which will effectively end their working lives.

In a compelling article, Catherine Rampell of the New York Times (7-25-11) identified in depth the pernicious practice that many employers have adopted of “consider[ing] (or at least ‘strongly prefer[ring]’) only people currently employed or just recently laid off.”  She went on to note that “legal experts say the practice probably does not violate discrimination laws because unemployment is not a protected status, like age or race.”

Yet while “age” does indeed have protected status, let me tell you as a long-time corporate CEO that although most CEOs do not discriminate against their existing employees because of age except perhaps when it comes to late-career promotions, all too often their human resources and personnel departments do almost everything they can to avoid hiring as new employees people over the age of, say, 50.

And then there are those unemployed workers who are finding that they are not too old, but rather too young or inexperienced.  Right now, we have 5 million out-of-school unemployed youth – half with a B.A. or a B.S. and half with a high school diploma – for whom age as a protected status only barely applies.  Their problem in this anemic economic recovery is compounded by the fact that every June – year after year – another 6.5 million or so young people graduate from high school and college.  When the jobs-applicant pipeline for youth keeps filling up each year to such a degree, each year, anyone still stuck in the pipeline from prior years gets overwhelmed.

One powerful solution to the current youth unemployment problem – and there are several (see again “A Vision for Economic Renewal”) – would be simply to expand the existing Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) and extend it beyond August 2011.  This law provides small businesses with tax incentives to hire people who might ordinarily struggle to find work – for example, those with lesser skills, veterans and, since 2009, ‘disconnected youth’.

As if length of unemployment, age, and youth weren’t barriers enough to getting re-hired, however, there is also increasingly the issue of one’s credit.  The evidence is clear that more and more employers are now considering credit reports in making new hiring decisions.  Sixty percent of employers now do credit checks on job applicants – according to the New York Times (5-29-11), this figure is up from less than 20% in the mid-1990s.

It’s an easy assumption that most of the 10 to 13 million long-term unemployed workers and many of the other 16 to 19 million unemployed Americans have had their prior good credit ratings damaged, and thus they must preponderantly be among the 45 million Americans who are living today with “damaged credit”.  And once an unemployed worker’s credit rating is downgraded, then he or she is not hired by company after company that uses credit records to screen job applicants.  This despite the fact that five states limit the use of credit histories by potential employers and 20 or so are considering similar measures.

Employers generally must obtain one’s permission to check credit. But can you imagine any unemployed individual saying “no” to that request?  Even if the prospective employer doesn’t acknowledge it, as the Times also wrote back in October, “If an employer rejects a person for a job, who’s to say it wasn’t actually because of the credit report?”

The esteemed Martin Feldstein, former Chair of the Council of Economic Advisors under President Reagan, wrote in an op-ed on July 25 (Financial Times) that “it’s jobs that will define Obama’s future” – and indeed they will.  In fact, White House adviser David Plouffe couldn’t be more wrong when he said in early July: “The average American does not view the economy through the prism of GDP or unemployment rates or even monthly jobs numbers.  People won’t vote based on the unemployment rate, they’re going to vote based on:  ‘How do I feel about my own situation?”

In the vein of Mr. Feldstein’s comment, greatly affecting Mr. Obama’s future will be whether or not his administration couples specific jobs-creation initiatives (see “A Vision for Economic Renewal – An American Jobs Agenda” (Huffington Post, 7-25-11)) with all-out efforts to outlaw discrimination in hiring decisions on the basis of duration of unemployment, older age, youthfulness and credit rating. The President should use his bully pulpit to call out these forms of discrimination against workers and express his outrage.  Then he should immediately exhort Congress to legislate new and more exhaustive protections, to include more accessible complaint processes, easier class-action status and far stiffer penalties with expedited reviews.

So, as we sit in the worst economic travail since the Great Depression, mired as we are in an unprecedented jobless recovery, I grieve for the man or woman who has been out of work for more than a few months, or who is older, or who is just out of school, or who has seen the consequence of having no paychecks come to life in a deteriorating credit report.

The increasingly frail legions of unemployed Americans desperately need the swords and the shields of all those who were elected on the promise of defending workers and fighting for the unemployed.  Without the leadership of the President and some pointed legislation from Congress, there is little prospect that the long-term real unemployed are going to be hired into the recovery, whenever it might come, and no hope that this job-less recovery is going to become job-full any time soon.

This article was submitted by Leo Hindery, Jr. Leo Hindery Jr. is chair of the Smart Globalization Initiative at the New America Foundation and an investor in media companies. He is the former CEO of AT&T Broadband and its predecessors, Tele-Communications, Inc. and Liberty Media.



Debt-Limit Increase Bill kicks the can down the road

Posted on 07. Aug, 2011 by Stephan Helgesen in Politics

“This deal represents everything that is wrong with Washington, DC,” says former four-term State Representative and candidate for Congress in New Mexico’s First Congressional District Janice Arnold-Jones.  “This debt-limit increase bill kicks the can down the road for future members of Congress to deal with and that’s just plain wrong,” Janice Arnold-Jones said.

Arnold-Jones stated, “The most glaring problem with this debt deal is the fact the bulk of the spending reductions are put off to a future date. The current congressional membership is relying on an unknown future group of members to keep the word of current members and I believe we all know that isn’t going to work.”  “Unfortunately this bill also contains a ‘self-executing rule,’” Arnold-Jones added. “Basically this self-executing rule means that members of Congress will consider the budget passed without ever having to vote on it avoiding open debate over the 2012 budget.”

“Also disheartening is that after all the talk of requiring passage of a balanced budget amendment this bill doesn’t require it,” Arnold-Jones commented. “The bill only requires a vote on a balanced budget amendment in the last quarter of this calendar year. The bill does nothing to force Washington to balance its books.”

“This deal represents everything that is wrong with Washington, DC, backroom deal making and a complete lack of transparency with regard to the process. Americans deserve better,” Arnold-Jones said. “They deserve leadership, on both sides of the aisle, that doesn’t put off discussion until the eleventh hour that results in deals that I believe are bad for our nation.”

Submitted by the Janice Arnold Jones for Congress Campaign. For more information, log on to: www.janice2012explore.com

A hank of hair and a piece of chrome

Posted on 06. Aug, 2011 by Stephan Helgesen in Social/Cultural

Car 54 where are you? My mother, the car. Christine. You get the idea. What is it about cars and especially men and their cars that capture our imagination and our television and movie screens? We’ve all read this story before, but I’m going to give you a personal spin on it and a prediction.

The hypothesis is: all men are basically boys. They like toys that fulfill a need and that do something, AND the toys come from their mothers (more on that, later). Our car affair starts early. For me, it was my grandfather’s white Corvair with red leather seats that he let me drive. I know, the only thing worse than a Corvair was an Edsel or the Pinto or maybe the Gremlin. Anyway, I regarded it as ‘my’ car – a first-class ticket on the rocketship to adulthood which let me jettison my bicycle for the far reaches of the universe.

The universe included the drive-in diner, Lake Leota in the moonlight and the infamous ‘trip to nowhere in particular.’ Did I forget that it included the fairer sex by my side? Can I even say that today without some group putting the crosshairs on my silhouette? The Corvair soon gave way to another obscure car, a 1957 Rambler with fold-down seats — an unrequited love affair that was traded in on a 1957 Chevrolet. The ‘57 was yellow with three on the column but with four doors. (Lost some BMOC points there for sure.)

I still have dreams about that car and the other Chevy in my life, a 1956 Belair. The dreams go like this… I’m driving it. I’m happy. I park it. Then I can’t remember where I parked it. Then I remember where I parked it. I go back to find it. It’s gone. I’m miserable. I wake up believing I still have it and that everything’s okay until I see my Ford Escape parked in the driveway. I’m crestfallen. I try to get back to sleep to pick up where I left off, but then I remember that I sold the ’57 in ‘69.

It’s time for the amateur psychologists to step up and have at me for what I’m going to say. Cars are more than a machine we use to break free of the gravitational field of adolescence. They are a magic pen, connecting the dots of our lives. We use them as reminders of important events like: necking in high gear at our first drive-in movie, the prom, our trip to the altar on our wedding day, the ride home from the hospital with our new daughter or son, the vacation excursion across America’s fields and cities, and the long black limo journey back from the cemetery.

Cars are also like our mothers. They protect us while we live out dreams. They’re with us on our trips into the unknown, and they afford us the opportunity to create a strong bond based on the belief that if we just take care of each other, everything will be alright. Finally, they are always there to help us find our way home.  Ladies, do your husbands have dreams like mine? Does your man occasionally whimper, toss and turn in his sleep and sometimes call out a strange woman’s name? Please do not reach for the paring knife when he does. He’s just dreaming about his long-lost car or long-lost youth. Do something nice for him. Get him a subscription to Car and Driver magazine or better yet engage him in some ‘car talk’ just before turning out the lights. Tell him he’s the Master Mechanic of your dreams, and I guarantee that before you can say check your owner’s manual he’ll be inviting you out to the drive-in… again.

- Editor







New Mexico’s Bears Face a Dire Future

Posted on 05. Aug, 2011 by Administrator in Energy/Environment

Sandia Mountain BearWatch is now 16 years old with approximately 600 members, most of whom live in the Sandia and Manzano Mountains near Albuquerque.  S. M. Bearwatch’s mission has been to help ensure a stable bear population in New Mexico through statewide education for mountain residents, informing them how to co-exist with bears.  We continue to advocate for better management for our state’s mammal, the black bear.  Our wildlife conservation organization has never taken an anti hunting stance, but we continue to take a strong stand against poor bear management and unethical hunting practices.

Unfortunately, between fickle Mother Nature and the New Mexico Game and Fish Department, New Mexico’s bears are in for a very dire year ahead.

After one of the coldest winters on record, in early May, there was a statewide hard freeze that killed most if not all of the oak blossoms that produce the acorns that bears depend on to survive their winter hibernation.  Fruit trees were also ravaged.  Our winter snows were below normal and the high springtime winds along with no spring rains is a harbinger of things to come for this species.

In its inception, BearWatch established a Wildlife Steward program.  This program was instituted to educate Wildlife Stewards in all mountain regions on how to help inform their neighbors how to live with bears.  These Wildlife Stewards not only help inform their neighbors on all the ‘Tips’ for living in bear country, they also report bears in the area and keep us up on what is happening ‘bear-wise’ in their part of the state.  Recently, our Wildlife Steward in Cloudcroft, in the southern part of the state, reported that they had the same hard freeze along with little winter moisture.  Several of their young bears have been trapped for the first time ever in Roswell near the Texas border traveling down from the Sacramento Mountains.  Her neighbor recently saw a bear eating bugs off of his car grill.

And on top of this upcoming natural disaster, our bears face one of the largest bear hunts in New Mexico’s history.

The NMG&F has increased the bear hunt 104% over the past five-year bear hunts of 2004-2008 to harvest a total of 686 bears including 302 females per year for four years 2011-2014.

The Game and Fish Department has estimated that there are 5,327 to 6,511 bears in New Mexico.  That’s right, they have it down to the very last 11 bears, when in truth, the NMG&F has no idea how many bears exist in New Mexico.  They are basing their bear population guesstimate on their matrix, which is not a population count.  It yields the same population estimate every year and is essentially a bear capacity estimate.  NMG&F’s uncertain estimate of plus or minus 10% in the population is not realistic given the tremendous uncertainty in the method they’ve used.

The NMG&F has doubled the bear hunt they consider to be ‘problem’ zones from 7% to 15%, which is basically the entire state.  This will include 50% sows.  This four-year 2011-2014 statewide hunt is proposing to kill 2,744 bears in total, including killing approximately 1,218 females…the future.  If forest conditions are as bad as we fear, malnourished sows will not produce cubs to replace this draconian hunt, which means our statewide bear population will most likely take a massive plunge.  The tragedy is that old, young and weak bears will die of starvation, predation and depredation early on with the stronger, producing bears surviving to be hunted and killed off by bear hunters in the fall.

This Game Department’s message is trust us, we’re the experts here and we know what we’re doing.  BearWatch’s experts, two well-known, seasoned bear biologists and a PhD. physicist believe this bear hunt is unsustainable.  We believe that this ‘reduction’ hunt along with this looming natural disaster could permanently eliminate bears from some New Mexico mountain ranges.  It’s happened in states like Arizona and Utah.

Unfortunately the NMDG&F resents spending the money and personnel to manage New Mexico’s bears.  It is easier to just eliminate most of the bear population rather than educating, ticketing irresponsible residents who create human/bear problems and encouraging bear-country counties to create and enforce bear-proof garbage ordinances.

It’s now up to all caring New Mexicans to do everything possible to protect our bears because no one else is going to do it for us.  For more information, contact www.sandiamountainbearwatch.org.

Jan Hayes is the founder of Sandia Mountain BearWatch/New Mexico BearWatch.  Jan is a professional watercolor artist and has lived in the Sandia Mountains for the past 26 years.  She initially established Sandia Mountain BearWatch to protect the bears she sees drinking from and foraging along her small mountain stream. Jan welcomes you to join her in her pursuit to protect New Mexico’s black bears.   BearWatch membership dues are just $5 per person per year.  Donations are always welcome.  Send your checks to: SM BearWatch,   P.O. Box 591, Tijeras, NM  87059


A 100 year Challenge to New Mexican Voice Readers

Posted on 02. Aug, 2011 by Stephan Helgesen in Economy, Politics, Social/Cultural

Will all this be forgotten in a hundred years? A century goes by one day at a time, all 36,525 of them (can’t forget the leap years).  In 2012, New Mexico will be celebrating 100 years of existence as America’s 47th state, and we’ve sure seen a lot of changes since we voted to join the other 46 in 1912.

Back then, most folks probably didn’t give a hoot or a whole lot of thought as to how we’d look in 2012. People were too busy focused on trying to eke out a living and avoid all the diseases and disasters that seemed to conspire against them.

Our roads were dirt (or mud). Our railroads brought us prosperity, goods and new people to settle the growing Land of Enchantment (though I’m sure for many enchantment wasn’t exactly what came to mind when they threw open the shutters of their windows and realized another back-breaking day of work lay ahead of them). Our schools were makeshift and our young people often labored alongside their parents on farms, ranches and in stores. Our churches were still gathering places to meet and ask the Lord’s blessing for our crops (and probably some rain). Tourism wasn’t yet an industry, but politics was fast becoming one.

A century later, we’re still facing many of the same challenges that our great grandparents’ faced like educating our children, finding work, getting enough rain, extracting minerals from our earth and trying to keep our politicians honest and responsive.  That’s not to say we haven’t made considerable progress. We have, but in many of those areas, the problems still linger. One of the biggest is planning for our future, and while 2012 is fast approaching, I don’t hear a drumbeat from anybody on what we want from our next 100 years.

Sure we have a Centennial website (www.nmcentennial.org) where New Mexicans can see what celebrations are planned for our birthday, but it’s more party planning than a constructive conversation on what we want to be when we ‘grow up.’ That troubles me, for if there ever was a time we needed a good plan, it’s now. The Governor’s website names her top four priorities for the future and that’s a good start, but it’s a far cry from a plan.

A plan for a state’s future needs to be crafted on the back of information and opinions gleaned from its citizens in town hall meetings and other gatherings and even from the internet.  It must be coupled with some good old fashioned prognostication that’s based on our strengths, weaknesses, our hopes and our dreams. We need to shift into high gear now and lay out today’s most pressing issues for all to see and comment on. Some of the really big ones are: land and water management, education, energy and our environment, our economy and the really really big one… how much government do we need and want going forward.

A friend of mine recently told me that life is moving too quickly for people to grasp. He said that New Mexicans need to stop and take a deep breath and count to ten and stop scurrying around like prairie dogs. They need to stop popping their heads up from their holes so much and spend more time down in the den thinking – about the things that matter. We ought to concentrate on how things will fit together and work 100 years from now and devote less time to worrying about how they’ll look.

That may sound like heresy in this very visual and often superficial world of ours, but the truth is we cannot really see our world with our eyes alone.  Sight is not the same thing as vision.  If our Centennial Committee would rather concentrate its efforts on the party, that’s okay with me as long as somebody higher up throws down the challenge to our communities and citizenry to start talking about New Mexico 2112.

We at the New Mexican Voice would like to make an offer to our readers.  We would like to hear your views and suggestions on what kind of New Mexico you want for the next 100 years.  Make your comments as long or as short as you wish, just mark them ‘100 Years’ at the top of your submission and send them to us at: editor@newmexicanvoice.com or by mail to: New Mexican Voice, 6565 America’s Parkway, Suite 200, Albuquerque, NM 87110.

Remember, good ideas never go out of style!

Stephan Helgesen, Editor/Publisher

Stephan J. Helgesen




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