PRC approves extension of PNM solar incentives

Posted on 31. Dec, 2011 by Stephan Helgesen in Economy, Energy/Environment

According to the New Mexico Business Weekly, “The PRC eliminated incentive payments for very large PV systems of above 1 megawatt. At a hearing today in Santa Fe, the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission approved Public Service Co. of New Mexico ’s proposal to extend solar incentive payments to homes and small businesses for six months in 2012. It also approved PNM’s request to continue paying incentives for large solar photovoltaic arrays, but at a lower level. The new incentive pays 2 cents per renewable energy credit (REC), down from about 6 cents per REC now.

The PRC eliminated incentive payments for very large PV systems of above 1 megawatt. The money saved from that will be used to support continued payments for the medium-sized 100-to-999 kilowatt systems, albeit at the reduced price of 2 cents per REC, said Commissioner Jason Marks.”

To read the whole article, log on to www.bizjournals.com/albuquerque

The Next 100 Years: Land of Sopapillas and Chilies or Chips and Bytes?

Posted on 31. Dec, 2011 by Stephan Helgesen in Economy, Education, Energy/Environment, Healthcare, NM, Politics, Social/Cultural

Judging by the great strides made in technology over the last 100 years, we can expect massive change during the next century. The world as we know it will be gone. It will be replaced by one that is shaped by the forces of technological growth, increasing social pressure and by dwindling resources and a crisis of governance.

The Economy and Technology:

If our economy survives without too much injury, we might be able to revive capitalism to the point where we can export the philosophy to more countries in the emerging world and gain a competitive advantage through mutually beneficial trade and investment agreements with them, and perhaps even manufacture for them!

With more wealth will come much more technology. The world of 2112 will see distances between countries, cultures and communities eroded even further, enlarging the neighborhood and allowing more people to interact with one another over the internet on devices as small as a pencil.

The New Mexico Spaceport will stimulate the growth of a vibrant, modern materials and aeronautics/space research sector that will create thousands of high-paying jobs.

Our homes will be interactive and individually programmed to respond to voice commands (even from our smartphones). When coupled with Artificial Intelligence (AI) they will ‘get to know us better’ and anticipate our desires, teeing up the system by responding instantaneously to our wishes. “Lights on, heat down 2 degrees, security system armed and start perimeter recording at maximum sensitivity level.” A grasshopper won’t be able to get through the average 2112 home security system let alone a human intruder because our AI home will go into lock-down mode, automatically reinforcing our smart windows and doors that can go from normal tensile strength to bulletproof level protection in seconds due to advances in new, space-age materials.

Computers and computer microprocessors will be imbedded or merged into many new products, and these integrated circuits (chips) will be reprogrammable by their users to accommodate new requirements and applications.

Holograms will take the place of DVDs and videos and will be viewable in life-size. They will also be programmable to act as opponents in games and as conversation partners, thereby ending loneliness for millions of people.

Education:

Education of our children will take place earlier and earlier, starting in the first few months of life with ‘crib ed’ where newborns and infants learn languages and are even tested at home from remote testing sites.

New, government-funded ReTraining Clusters will be formed to deal with the chronically unemployed. The RTCs, which will be electronically networked with all American businesses and all state Labor Departments, will closely monitor the workplace (job) needs and re-train America’s unemployed or underemployed workers for those jobs.

A new type of high school curriculum will be instituted in America’s schools. It will be built on a uniform aptitude test given to all middle school students. Each student will be voluntarily ‘directed’ to a curriculum specially suited to his/her aptitude and skills that will continue throughout the six high school years. Those having chosen that path and graduating will be awarded a 100% scholarship to a nationally-funded school of higher learning/training that will match up their skills with the needs of the business community and society at large.

The University of New Mexico will be privatized and no longer be a drain on the state’s budget. It will segment itself into several profit centers and will triple its international student population and generate important revenue from scientific and other partnering.

Energy/Environment:

Solar and wind power, hydrogen, bio-algae and biomass fuels AND traditional energy sources will   play a role in the next 100 years. The ‘all of the above’ solution will be the only viable one for our personal transportation and home energy needs until the perfect balance is found between imported oil and domestic production.

New Mexico will become the Alternative Energy Capital of the United States as the state develops its bio-algae, biomass, solar and wind resources (the state will actually produce enough bio-diesel fuel to power all of the vehicles in the federal fleet from its massive bio-algae GreenWay park in southeastern New Mexico).  Important federal grants for renewable energy projects will be given to New Mexico to offset the reduction in force and mission at Los Alamos National Laboratories (a victim of significant federal budget cuts). The state of New Mexico will be given permission to commercialize all renewable energy technologies in a three-way partnership with the federal government and the private sector.

Governance and Politics:

In the year 2112, there could very well be a supra-national government, based on the United Nations model that governs specific global areas like: food and energy production, monetary and financial matters and maybe even sets standards for a host of other things. We could see the world operating on an intellectual property or idea standard alongside a world currency where countries with patents and ideas generate royalties and enjoy a financial advantage.

We may see a merging of the House and the Senate into a unicameral body (this will come as a result of the gridlock that will nearly paralyze our legislative efforts to govern ourselves).

Our state government will be an on-line 24-hour accessible one and our legislature will morph into a full-time paid one with regular sessions that mirror the federal legislative calendar.  New Mexico will enter into a program of ‘Enterprise Zones’ that will be formed with Colorado, Texas and Arizona that harmonize taxes and incentives, enabling the state to better compete with the rest of the country for out-of-state direct investment.

New Mexico will also begin offering a special Retirement Investment Incentive (largely a package of tax reductions on personal income tax, sales tax and property taxes) to those willing to purchase property and retire in New Mexico. It will become a popular incentive and be copied by other states.

The New Mexican political landscape will also change to reflect a growing dissatisfaction with the two traditional political parties. Voter registration will see a significant increase in the number of independents in the State resulting in a new political makeup of 25% Republicans, 30% Democrats and 45% Independents (the Independents will be absorbed by two new political parties that will spring up in the second half of 21st century).

Unfortunately, we will lose some of our personal freedoms in the coming 100 years as new terrorist attacks turn us into a more insular and protective society instead of an outgoing one.  Crime will increase, but new types of penalties for minor crime will take the place of incarceration, so our prison population will decrease.

Healthcare:

Each new citizen will be DNA tested at birth by law and get a Genetic Profile Prospectus (GPP) that will give him/her an ‘odds and probabilities’ assessment as to which diseases that he/she could succumb to and which preventative or cautionary lifestyle choices he/she should make. This GPP will become part of our national identity card and follow us all through our lives.

Transportation:

Many of us will rarely leave our homes. We will work, remotely, and even direct our businesses from our computers, but for those who must travel, they’ll be taking to the air. We won’t have flying cars, but we may have flying mass transit for short distance travel. Flying maxi-taxis with designated routes (flight plans), capable of transporting 50-100 people high above our freeways will be standard fare.

Our four-wheel transportation will utilize hybrid fuel technology that will incorporate several types of energy sources: electric, fossil fuel, biodiesel and even solar. In order to get consumers to buy the newer vehicles, government will offer deep discounts and other incentives such as fuel rebates and even matching funds for vehicle repair.

In New Mexico, our Rail Runner will give way to a sleek monorail that is built down the middle of I-25 and I-40. It will carry passengers from Socorro to Santa Fe and from the Greater Albuquerque area to Moriarty. The price of the tickets will be subsidized by a surcharge on businesses and by property tax increases along with a direct Dept. of Energy grant from the federal government.

Chilies and Luminarias, starry skies and broad vistas will remain largely unchanged as New Mexico will lag behind other states in population growth (unless no progress is made on stemming the tide of illegal immigration), due in large part to finite water resources. Living in the next century will be a challenge, especially for those who believe that technology should occupy a smaller footprint going forward. The next hundred years will demand that we all learn more and do more with that knowledge. Much will be asked of us, but I’m confident that New Mexicans will accept the challenge and figure out a way to make decisions that will reflect our chosen way of life. We are, and will continue to be, the stewards of the land that we call, enchanted.

- Editor

November 2011 Sales Numbers Up from Last Year

Posted on 31. Dec, 2011 by Stephan Helgesen in Economy

1,027 New Mexico sales were reported to the REALTORS Association of New Mexico (RANM) during November 2011.  This number is 3.7% higher than the number reported in November 2010.  Fourteen of the counties reporting sales showed an increase in numbers; 10 counties reported a decrease.

The year to date total of sales, 12,149 is only 2% less than the 2010 year to date number.

RANM Executive Vice President M. Steven Anaya says “New Mexico median prices continue to reflect the number of distressed properties still on the market.  The November median of $161,655 is 7.6% lower than 2010’s November median of $174,900.”  The median home price means half the homes sold for more than the median amount; half for less.

Sixteen reporting counties reported a decrease in median price from last year; however Lincoln, Los Alamos, and Santa Fe Counties all reported a higher November 2011 median price than that reported in November 2010.

Is there a light at the end of the tunnel?  Teresa Ramos, 2011 RANM President acknowledges “There are still cancellation issues related to appraisals, tight underwriting, and other issues.  But buyers are beginning to recognize the great opportunity to own real estate and acting accordingly.  Existing home inventory has been trending downward consistently;  rents are rising and rent increases accelerating;  jobs are being added to the economy; and mortgage rates are too low to pass up – all these things point to a recovery which means more sales, and stabilizing prices.”

The trends and numbers reported are only a snapshot of market activity.  If you are interested in buying or selling, consult a REALTOR familiar with your market area; he/she can provide information on specific trends in your neighborhood.

Statistical information and trends are based on information furnished by New Mexico Member Boards and MLSs to U. S. House Stats.  Current reporting participants are: Greater Albuquerque Association of REALTORS, Las Cruces Association of REALTORS MLIS, New Mexico Multi-Board MLS (Artesia, Carlsbad, Clovis/Portales, Deming, Gallup, Grants, Hobbs, Las Vegas, Sierra County areas), Otero County Board of REALTORS, Roswell Association of REALTORS, Ruidoso/Lincoln County Association of REALTORS, Santa Fe Association of REALTORS, San Juan County Board of REALTORS, Silver City Regional Association of REALTORS, and the Taos County Association of REALTORS. Reports represent single family residential data only.  Information does not necessarily represent all activity in any market/county.  Figures based on reports run 12/19/11.  Visit www.nmrealtor.com (housing trends) for county and board statistics.

This article was submitted by The REALTORS Association of New Mexico, one of the state’s largest trade associations, representing over 5,800 members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate market.

 

Rogers Begins Term as President of State Realtors Association

Posted on 31. Dec, 2011 by Stephan Helgesen in Economy

Debbie Rogers, CRS, GRI, e-PRO, of Silver City, has begun her term as 2012 President of the REALTORS Association of New Mexico (RANM).

Rogers was first licensed in 1991 and earned her broker’s license in 1996.  Throughout her career in real estate, education has always been at the forefront, and she has earned her Certified Residential Specialist (CRS), Graduate, REALTORS Institute (GRI), and e-PRO Designations.  Rogers is co-owner and co-broker of RE/MAX Silver Advantage in Silver City.

Rogers has served in many leadership roles for both the Silver City Regional Association of REALTORS and RANM.  She was honored as REALTOR of the Year by the Silver City Association in both 2001 and 2002.  As a RANM volunteer she served two terms as Southwest District Vice President and has been a member of RANM’s Executive, Strategic Planning, Issues Advocacy Fund, and Budget and Finance Committees.

Rogers also has served as a member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS (NAR) Professional Standards Committee and as a NAR Director.  As RANM President she will also serve as a 2012 NAR Director.  Debbie and her husband Roddy have two children.  Through her adult life Debbie has also been an active community volunteer serving the PTA, other school groups, the Silver City Chamber of Commerce and her church.

Other 2012 Executive Committee members include:  President Elect Cathy Colvin, Albuquerque; Treasurer Sandylee Pasquale, Albuquerque; Immediate Past President Teresa Ramos, Las Cruces; Central District Vice President Carol Bernstein, Albuquerque; Northeast District Vice President Gary Wallace, Santa Fe; Northwest District Vice President Lela Holmes, Farmington; Southwest District Vice President Pat Fell, Silver City; Southeast District Vice President Connie DeNio, Roswell; and Secretary, M. Steven Anaya, RANM in Santa Fe. 2012 RANM officers and directors will be installed January 25 at the Inn and Spa at Loretto, Santa Fe, as part of RANM’s Leadership, Legislative, and Business Meetings.

This article was submitted by The REALTORS® Association of New Mexico which  is one of the state’s largest trade associations, representing over 6,000 members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate market

 

 

Europe hell-bent on climate change interventions?

Posted on 21. Dec, 2011 by Stephan Helgesen in Energy/Environment

The Economist Magazine has historically been a supporter of climate-change interventions such as cap and trade and carbon-emission reductions. Yet, they reported on the UN climate change talks in Durban as being more about “saving the circus” than “saving the planet.” But, just what is the “circus;” who are the performers; and how did they get into the ring? And, was it ever about “saving the planet?”

My previous column postulated on China’s role in the climate change “circus.” I suggested that their apparent change of heart on the issue was really just a change of strategy.

Like The Economist, another leading European publication, The Financial Times (FT) has also been a believer in man-made climate change. FT carried extensive coverage of the 2011 UN climate change talks—even producing a twelve-page supplement: Climate Change Review, Durban 2011. Here in the US, the climate change talks in Durban were barely mentioned.

Within FT’s reporting they state that the European Union (EU) “is pushing hardest among developed countries for a new global deal” and is “the greenest voice among wealthy countries at the talks.” Is the EU uniquely insightful, or like China, is their role in the ring also more about economic strategy?

When it is widely known that any Kyoto-style deal will be costly to the countries’ involved and make energy more expensive for the countries’ citizens, why would the EU stand out as the staunchest supporter? Canada has dropped out of the Kyoto accord “in order to save billions of dollars in potential non-compliance fees.” The US never signed on. Developing industrial countries, such as China and India, have repeatedly refused to participate because “rapid development is lifting millions out of poverty.”

Perhaps, herein, lies “the circus”—with the EU as the star performer.

The countries that have resisted, or rejected, binding greenhouse gas reduction agreements are generally countries with abundant natural resources: the US, China, India, Russia, and Canada. Australia, another country rich in resources, is still performing in “the circus.” The EU, on the other hand, has limited resources—leaving them to depend on nuclear power, natural gas from Russia, and oil imported from the North Sea and Middle East. The quest for oil was one of the factors that prompted World War II—both Germany and Japan had it in their sights.

For the EU to be energy independent, they must develop “renewables”—specifically wind and solar power. Wind and solar resources do generate energy, but they are more expensive than the traditional fuels that other regions have in abundance. Renewable energy costs put the EU at a competitive disadvantage in the global marketplace, perhaps, making it advantageous for the EU to support a scheme that artificially raises the cost of traditional fuels in competing nations. Hence, support for emission reductions that hurt other economies more than the EU, could make the EU the primary driver for climate-change interventions.

Could the EU’s lack of abundant natural resources have contributed to its current economic crisis? Italy provides an illustration of this hypothesis.

Italy is one of the EU members in need of a financial bailout.

At the introduction of the euro, Italy had a €25 billion trade surplus. Today, they have a €35 billion trade deficit. However, if its oil consumption is removed from the mix, Italy actually has a trade surplus. Therefore, if Italy could, somehow, reduce its dependence on oil imports, the country’s account balance would improve due to lower import volumes.

Renewables offer Europe “domestic” energy, albeit more expensive energy, and therefore provide Europe with energy needed for manufacturing and industry. However, more expensive electricity puts Europe at a competitive disadvantage with other markets—especially the United States. Enter the premise of man-made global warming and climate-change interventions. American environmentalists embraced the potential energy reductions.

It almost worked. Had the US signed on to the Kyoto protocol and/or passed cap and trade, for example, our energy costs would be considerably higher than current rates due to forced implementation of renewable energy—rather than allowing the free market to pick winners. Instead, the jig is up.

Even the environmentalists acknowledge that they need a new approach. Yet, Europe clings to a global plan for emission reductions through the UN and instituted a Ponzi-like cap-and-trade program that would have enriched Eurocrats. It has discouraged scientific rigor and fueled the man-made global warming scheme, by encouraging and recognizing those who assisted in garnering favorable publicity for the fear, uncertainty, and doubt of man-made climate change. Maybe it has never been about saving the planet.

This premise leaves Europe in an economic tailspin, without hope of easy recovery, and grieves global governance supporters who believe that the playing field needs to be leveled.

President Obama’s energy policies—such as his support of cap and trade, resistance to developing America’s oil-and-gas resources, and backing of more expensive renewables, while killing affordable coal resources—make us the clown. In November 2012, Americans will decide if we, as a country, will go the route of Europe, or if we will have economic growth fueled, like Canada, by an abundant and affordable supply of energy. Will we vote to save the circus, or save America?

This article was submitted by Marita Noon who 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. Marita’s twentieth book, Energy Freedom, is now available.


 

 

 

Capitalism Under Attack?

Posted on 14. Dec, 2011 by Stephan Helgesen in Economy, Politics

Question #1: Do you believe that America’s prosperity is due to capitalism? (If you answered yes, then go directly to question two. If you answered no, where do you think this newspaper came from?)

Question #2: Why are Americans not taking up the discussion of capitalism on a more massive scale, challenging the criticisms of the ‘Occupy Wall St. types’ (whether they’re in uniform on the streets or suited up on our media)?

It could be because the conversation is being framed by ideological purists who base it on a premise that cannot be debated by supporters of capitalism. For example, “We all know that big business is bad because big dominates small, therefore big business must be bad,” or “Capitalism and the imperialistic desire to dominate world markets is what brought us to our current economic situation,” or maybe, “One person profiting from his labor without sharing it ‘fairly’ with his neighbors is abhorrent in a modern society when so many are suffering.”

These may not be the exact talking points you’re hearing from left-wing politicians, labor union leaders, tenured professors, youthful protestors and those supporting class warfare or race baiting politics, but they do undergird their rantings.

Did you notice the use of certain volatile words in that last sentence like: left-wing, class warfare, race-baiting and rantings? I purposely used them to illustrate how rhetoric can be used to inflame rather than illuminate, igniting people’s emotions and moving them away from a debate on the facts.

History shows us the error of mankind’s ways and helps us prove that capitalism, when coupled with democracy and a pretty damned good Constitution like ours, works. Maybe it doesn’t work perfectly, but if you want perfect, you need to go back to school and comfort yourself by reading economic theory. Monarchies were great for the kings, princes, dukes, earls, counts and feudal lords who held the land but a bad system for everybody else. Collectivism (Communism and Socialism) looks impressive on paper, but is incredibly impractical and contrary to human motivation in reality. What do you do with the slackers? Gulag them? Then there is the enormous bureaucracy needed to administer the system. What a waste, as the former Soviet Union will agree.

Social Democracies (SD) are the apparent preference of our current President and have struck a responsive chord among his administration’s people and that’s why the debate is getting so heated. The noble SD experiment began after WWI, shifted into higher gear during the Great Depression in the 1930s, was temporarily suspended during WWII but re-emerged in the 50s and 60s in Scandinavia, Germany and elsewhere in Europe.

It focused on the creation of a new social contract that included welfare, unemployment compensation, pensions, collective bargaining and state-sponsored education decided on the basis of social need using democratic principles. What went haywire was government’s belief that it could manage private companies just as well as the private sector. The most notable of which was the airline industry (SAS was co-owned by the governments (people) of Denmark, Sweden and Norway, and KLM was owned by the Dutch people). There were other nationally-owned carriers, but the principle that state-ownership of key industries was in the citizens’ best interest was unmistakable.

On the education front, it might appear the SDs have found the answer. With state-run universities and state-sponsored tuitions and stipends to defray dormitory costs, education is free. Not quite. The taxpayers pay for their kids (and their neighbors’) to go to college…if they can get in, that is. The downside of state-run education is that the state determines how many students are allowed to study medicine, psychology, architecture, etc.  They do it by establishing rigid quotas and high grade point qualifiers (to sustain them) based on how many graduates the economic system can absorb 3-4 years hence.

If the graduates were unable to find work they would receive unemployment compensation which would cost the governments plenty. Therefore, it is a state-determined economic motive that decides the outcomes not a scholastic one.

Is that really what we want in America, an educational system run by the government that decides who can study what and when?

The other ‘trophy industry’ SD proponents point to is Europe’s rail system, impressive in its network of rail connections and high speed trains. What we forget is that 19th and 20th century Europe’s primary transportation WAS railroads, and the devastation of much of the system in WWII enabled Europe to rebuild and in some case re-draw areas for tracks and incorporate new technology while we were busy building a federal highway system.

Isn’t this really more about which governments have understood their national advantages and priorities, had a plan for developing them and then chose wisely instead of which political system is the best? In point of fact, there are few SD-owned industries anymore. Why? Because the Europeans now realize that the system doesn’t work well. The grand bargain of the Common Market (which was based on a higher level, multi-country version of SD) has morphed into today’s ‘Eurozone.’

That compact, and subsequent common currency, has made these countries extremely vulnerable BECAUSE of their linkages to one another, due in part to the expensive liberal social welfare contract with its citizens. Today, they are literally teetering on insolvency.

The bottom line is that we cannot transplant European-style social democracy to America because our economic organism is vastly different from that of our European cousins. Thankfully, we have a Constitution that guarantees the right of private ownership and that protects us from any potential unlawful governmental intrusion into business or does it? What about General Motors, AIG, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, Solyndra, National Healthcare? If we think we can just sit back and rely on common sense or our Constitution to protect us, we are not seeing the ideological handwriting on the wall. The 2012 election is right on our doorstep.

-  Editor

Demystifying Economics

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

There’s one topic taking center stage in America – the economy – however the conversations rarely go below the surface where the real challenges facing businesses lie. Maybe it’s because the subject is so foreign to people that we only discuss it from the 50,000 ft. level, but we had better start cramming for this exam because it will be THE dominant theme in the 2012 elections. Here are my ‘Cliff Notes.’

I make something and I sell it. I collect the money and pay my expenses and plow a bit of the profits back into my company. If I have stockholders, I may declare a dividend and pay them a portion of my company’s earnings after I pay myself, my overhead, bonuses to my top-performing employees and give the government its taxes. Sounds simple, but there are hidden costs such as collecting sales taxes and payroll taxes and remitting them back to the government, but my government responsibility doesn’t stop there.

I must pay for the privilege to operate my business by getting state or city licenses. I must hire an accountant, a lawyer and sometimes other professionals. If I manufacture, I must adhere to certain OSHA requirements to operate a safe workplace. If I have government contracts, I must jump through a few more regulatory hoops as well. If I sell edible products or pharmaceuticals I must deal with the FDA and open my place of business to occasional inspections. I will need a Human Resource Department to make sure I abide by laws concerning the hiring and firing of employees. If I’m a union shop I must deal with a union representative and negotiate wages and benefits.

If my business is doing well, I might consider increasing my workforce and borrowing money to expand, pay interest on the loan and make those additional expenses part of my costs of doing business and then pass them on to my customers in the form of higher prices (or swallow the costs myself).  If I’m successful, I’m bound to create competition, so I might have to lower prices, improve my products or carve out better agreements with my agents, distributors or retailers. Staying in business is a whole lot more difficult than starting a business.

You’re probably asking, “Why did he spend so much time telling us things we already know?” The answer to that is, there are many people who DON’T know what it takes to be in business these days, otherwise they wouldn’t be demonizing them the way they do. That goes double for government bureaucrats who’ve never run one, managed employees, cut their checks or disciplined them. They haven’t fought tooth and nail for market share, stayed up nights worrying about meeting payrolls or how they were going to modernize or replace worn-out equipment. They’ve never dealt with foreign competition or excessive government intrusion into their businesses or an administration that is determined to ‘level the playing field’ and redistribute the wealth that they have created.

They haven’t pulled a 16-hour shift, worked holidays or not taken a vacation for years on end. They haven’t watched their costs rise exponentially because of high energy prices due to bad government policy or had to downsize their workforces and seen the hopelessness in the faces of their laid-off workers. These are the realities that America’s businesses face every day while Washington ideologues figure out what constitutes ‘rich’ or how much money is ‘fair ’ to take from America’s men and women to support the bloated government programs they administer at an average yearly salary of $125,000.

Those of us who’ve run companies need to stand up for ourselves and push back when our government starts demeaning America’s businesses. We also need to be part of the political process and support candidates who value our enterprise and entrepreneurism and who will challenge the ‘emperor’ when he has no clothes. If we don’t, we might as well close our doors now and save ourselves the trouble of giving away the store later.

- Editor

Gifts to Roadrunner Food Bank Count Twice in December Thanks to PNM

Posted on 12. Dec, 2011 by Stephan Helgesen in Social/Cultural

In the month of December, Roadrunner Food Bank has a unique opportunity thanks to PNM.  In the spirit of giving, PNM will match contributions made to Roadrunner Food Bank up to $31,000.  This special matching gift has twice the impact and makes twice the difference for the hungry people served by Roadrunner Food Bank.

This is a critical time.  High unemployment rates and increasing poverty levels in New Mexico mean more people are seeking help with food.  Gifts to support the work of Roadrunner Food Bank are more important than ever.

Melody Wattenbarger, president and CEO of Roadrunner Food Bank said, “With the dramatic increase of people that need our help with food, funds are critical in our work.  More funds means more food and sustenance for vulnerable people in our community.  This matching gift will hopefully encourage giving allowing us to distribute more food out into the community.  We are so grateful to PNM for this generous contribution.”

Diana Harrison Ogawa, executive director, PNM Resources Foundation said, “PNM is pleased to be a part of helping vulnerable people have access to food.  This gift and support will help Roadrunner Food Bank obtain important meals for hungry New Mexicans.  Our purpose and intent of this gift was to inspire others in our community to contribute.”

Until the end of December, PNM will match every new donation made to Roadrunner Food Bank. Contact www.rrfb.org/pnm or call 505/349-8682 to participate in the matching gift.

Roadrunner Food Bank is New Mexico’s largest non-profit organization dedicated to ending hunger in New Mexico and operates warehouses in Albuquerque and Las Cruces. Last year, Roadrunner Food Bank distributed 26.3 million pounds of food through its own programs, a statewide network of nearly 600 partner agencies, and four smaller regional food banks.  In New Mexico, Roadrunner Food Bank is the only member of Feeding America.  Roadrunner Food Bank and our affiliated agencies serve nearly 40,000 children and adults every single week.  New Mexico continues to be ranked as one of the hungriest states in the nation.

This information was submitted by Sonya Warwick of the Roadrunner Food Bank. She can be reached at: 505/349-8682.

 

America Needs a Manager, Now

Posted on 12. Dec, 2011 by Stephan Helgesen in Economy, Politics, Social/Cultural

I called the Employment Agency the other day and asked them if they had received any applications for the big job at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. I was met with a brief silence and then a very shaky female voice asked me if this was a crank call. “Definitely not,” I said. “I may be cranky, but this is serious business!”

I continued, “America needs a manager not a matinee idol, speechifier, theoretician, ideologue, rumba dancer, basketball player, golfer, talk show guest or specialist in raising money for himself.  You know what a manager is, don’t you? It’s someone who knows how to manage, a person who can fix things, not break them himself and then look around to see if anybody saw it and says, I think somebody broke this!

Our country is like a person with PMS and PTSD – all messed up. It doesn’t know if it’s coming or going or whether it’s been there and done that. We can’t afford anybody who thinks values is an iphone app or who thinks that people who believe in God are totally retro or one who thinks that cheating and ducking responsibility are merit badge qualifiers and that serious conversations are what people do when there’s nothing good on TV.

We need someone to help us manage our expectations and our feelings of anger and frustration about our country. We need someone who hasn’t been associated with unsavory characters, preached one thing and then turned around 180 degrees and done the opposite. We must have a competent experienced manager who understands people AND human nature and is ready to deal with both, someone who is proud of America and Americans and doesn’t appeal to their fears, race or class just to get votes.

We desperately need a manager who knows who constructed our magnificent American machine and understands why it was built the way it was so that he can get the most out of it, for our sakes.” “Are you still there?” I asked. The lady said, “Yes, I’m listening, but the person you’re looking for is probably already employed somewhere.” “Doesn’t matter,” I continued. “You need to put out an APB (All Presidents’ Bulletin) for this manager. There are a few places you shouldn’t look, though.

One of them is Wall Street. Another is academia (we already have someone from that address). Also, don’t go to lobbyists or to Congress or the Senate. Governors are a possibility, as are small business owners, but I’m more inclined to get the word out to single mothers with twin three-year old boys and an ex-husband who drinks up his child support money when he isn’t shooting craps with his Neanderthal buddies. Those ladies have what it takes to juggle adversity like it was a couple of nerf balls. They’ve seen both sides of the coin.”

“Does this manager need a college degree,” she asked. “Absolutely not,” I quickly answered. “As a matter of fact, look for someone who had to drop out in his junior year to take care of an aging parent. That person knows how to manage disappointment and make tough decisions. Find me someone who loves animals and respects older people, does volunteer work at a homeless shelter,  borrows books from the library and says ‘hello’ to everyone he meets.

One more thing. Please find me a person who isn’t too impressed with himself and who isn’t afraid to change his mind after hearing a convincing argument. That’s my guy or gal. Get on it right away. We haven’t a moment to lose. The survival of our republic hangs in the balance.”

- Editor

The Payroll Tax Cut Extension, the Republicans and Mitt Romney (et al.)

Posted on 12. Dec, 2011 by Stephan Helgesen in Economy, Politics

I think I’ve more than shown that I’m willing to criticize certain Members of Congress and members of the Administration alike when they miss the mark on fully resuscitating our wheezing economy and bringing fairness – and full employment – back to the middle class.

Through one and a half Sessions of Congress and through the first three years of the Obama Administration, impactful solutions and responses to the current jobs crisis have too often been kicked down the Washington road for reasons of ideology and political doctrinaire-ness.

We continue to see even indisputably moral responses to hardship – such as extending unemployment benefits, Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) and food assistance – rejected by apparently morally bereft Members of Congress, mostly Republicans to be sure but the occasional Democrat as well.

Yet when it comes to the now suddenly seven Republican presidential candidates, to date it’s seemed to me to be largely pointless to expend the energy it would take to call them out on the inanity and insensitivity of their expressed views about creating the staggering 20 million or so new jobs which we need to get back to full real employment.  However, their positions of the last two weeks are so similarly inane and insensitive that the time is nigh, as they say.

Extending the current payroll tax cut or holiday – which is now scheduled to expire on December 31 – for another year is critical, even though there are numerous other complementary, and in some ways more effective, stimulus and job-creation initiatives that should be enacted as well.

The payroll tax has, since 1990, been 12.4%, half paid by the employer and half paid by the employee.  However, effective January 1, 2011 the employee’s share was, for one year, reduced to 4.2%, while the employer’s portion stayed the same at 6.2%.

Now, unless extended, the employee’s share will revert to 6.2% at the end of the year.  The choices in front of Congress – and indirectly in front of Mitt Romney and the other Republicans running to be president – are threefold: (1) let the employee’s cut expire; (2) extend it for another year as is, to be ‘paid for’ by taxing in an overall similar amount those wealthiest taxpayers who make more than $1 million a year; or (3) extend the cut while reducing the employer’s portion also down to 4.2%.

Something on the order of 160 million taxpayers would be the beneficiary of a payroll tax cut extension, with a benefit for the typical family of four of more than $1,000, and of these millions of taxpayers, only about 350,000 or so would be thought to be ‘wealthy’.

These ‘160-million-minus-350,000’ are women and men who would almost immediately flow this benefit back into the economy, and while I am skeptical of assertions that a lot of permanent new jobs would be created by this extension, it is indisputable that there would be very positive ‘ripple effects’ to the overall economy which could forestall any new job losses.  So whether your cup of tea is economic or moral or both, a payroll tax cut extension should be Item Number One for this Congress, its anticipated continued dysfunction notwithstanding.

And the Democrats in Congress who favor the extension have very sensitively coupled their extension proposal with a commensurate tax increase on those 350,000 taxpayers with more than $1 million in annual earnings.  The one-year extension, including applying it to the employers’ portion as well plus a separate tax credit for small business, would cost $265 billion.  The so-called surtax on the extremely wealthy would raise $268 billion over 10 years (Jackie Calmes, New York Times, 12-01-11).

The Republicans, however, are almost uniformly outspoken against the extension, whether they are in Congress, running for Congress or running to be president.  They say that it’s “sacrificing the bedrock Republican principle that new expenditures be paid for with offsetting budget cuts.”

This harsh view between sensitively balancing “cuts” and “new revenues” can really be no surprise. All of the Republican presidential candidates, for example, have shown that they are distinctly out of touch with the fact that responsible emergency measures are needed right now to keep the middle class afloat.  Mr. Romney continually says that, “unemployment benefits…actually serve to discourage some individuals from taking jobs.”

Mr. Romney’s infamous line is that, “corporations are people.”  Of course, Mr. Romney, corporations are never unemployed people.  Unemployment is obviously not in your realm of consciousness, even though today it preoccupies nearly every waking moment for millions of American workers.

It shouldn’t surprise anyone, however, that Mr. Romney would so readily put down America’s unemployed and underemployed.  This is a man who made his very considerable personal fortune – estimated by his own campaign to be “between $190 and $250 million” – first by advising clients of Bain and Company to lay off employees and later, as the senior-most executive of Bain Capital-owned companies, by demanding such layoffs.

Mr. Romney’s responses to the economic crisis suggest that if elected president he would precede to “Bain-ize” America.  We should expect aggressive cuts in spending (the middle class social safety net be damned), even more real unemployment and little productive investment in infrastructure or otherwise.

And when all this cutting to the bone fails to produce an economic recovery, look for Mr. Romney to try the governmental equivalent of breaking the company up and selling its pieces:  i.e., mass privatization.  President Bush brought us the ill-advised “ownership society” – a President Romney would give us the far worse “outsourced society.”

This article was submitted by Leo Hindery Jr. who is chair of the US Economy/Smart Globalization Initiative at the New America Foundation, co-chair (with Leo Gerard) of The Task Force on Jobs Creation, founder of Jobs First 2012, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He is the former CEO of AT&T Broadband and its predecessors, Tele-Communications, Inc. and Liberty Media, and is currently an investor in media companies.


 

 

Bad Behavior has blocked 221 access attempts in the last 7 days.