The tyranny of the uninformed

Posted on 30. May, 2013 by Stephan Helgesen in Politics

Man has wreaked many forms of tyranny on the world over the centuries. Some of them, like the dictatorships of the mid 20th century, stand in bold relief to the potential for tyranny that is enshrined in our founding documents. I’m speaking of our voting laws and the cause and effect relationship between the uninformed or no/low information voter and the running of our country.

Every so often we’re reminded of just how free we are as a nation. Generally, it’s every four years when millions of people cast their ballots for the man or woman who will lead us for another 48 months.

And while there are many serious voters who do their homework on candidates’ policies, pronouncements and promises, I would guess that there are probably many more who couldn’t describe any one of them to you in detail let alone in general terms. In short, they’re uninformed and/or low/no information voters who are choosing our leaders based on entirely different reasons.

That in itself is nothing new. Americans have been voting that way for generations and they probably won’t stop anytime soon. (I remember the Nixon-Kennedy campaign of 1960 when women were voting for Kennedy just because he was good looking and had a thick head of hair!) We are a collection of tribes and we tend to act like them.

Picture this, you’re a member of an indigenous tribe in the rain forest of Brazil. The time of choosing a new chief is drawing near. Your village has been preparing for this for weeks since your old chief died. Normally, the chief would have named a few possible candidates before he died, but he didn’t get around to it, so now it’s up to the men in the village to stand for election (I didn’t say women because this is a patriarchal tribe – 20 miles through the jungle there is a matriarchal village that only chooses women leaders). All eligible candidates and voters must be at least 15 years old, have successfully undergone an initiation to manhood and be recommended by at least one elder in the village.

Three men have come forward and thrown their blowguns into the ring. Each is well known to the villagers. Candidate ‘A’ saved the village from a ferocious beast that was attacking their livestock last year, but he is, as most would agree, dumb as a bag of palm fronds. Candidate ‘B’ is known for his storytelling and keeping the youth of the village spellbound night after night with tales of other people’s heroism. Candidate ‘C’ has faithfully discharged his duties on the tribal council, helped organize successful hunting trips deep into the forest and taken in the children of a deceased neighbor and raised them as his own.

Actually, this is the optimal voting situation as everybody knows everybody else. The candidates’ exploits, successes and failures are common knowledge and the voters are well-known to the candidates. All that remains is to choose among them by remembering their deeds, listening to them speak and watching their body language. There are no information filters, no videotape re-takes or sound bites. What you see is what you get. The candidates know that a promise made must be a promise kept and decisions made must be sound, otherwise all in the village could suffer.

What does this village have that the USA doesn’t? It has an eminently workable election system based on candidate and voter accountability, proven maturity, personal responsibility, and above all a sense of community that guides everyone’s decisions. Question: What do we have that they don’t? Answer: millions of voters who never met the candidates, don’t know anyone who knows them, have never been able to ask them a question and can only turn to the media for their information. Our voters must rely on their friends’ and families’ opinions and their ‘gut’ to choose who will lead them.

I’m not advocating we trade in our ipads for an ispear or pick up and move to the rain forest. I am suggesting that when the low or uninformed among us have just as much sway as the well-informed , those of us who are better informed have an obligation to bring the others up to speed. By the way, the tribe chose Candidate ‘C’ as their new chief.

- Editor

Access to Medical Marijuana for Patients with PTSD?

Posted on 30. May, 2013 by Stephan Helgesen in Healthcare, Politics, Social/Cultural

Access to medical marijuana for patients with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in Oregon passed that State’s Legislature. If signed by the Governor, Oregon will become the 4th state in the nation to recognize PTSD as an Eligible Condition. Bi-Partisan cooperation was key to the bill’s passage.

(SALEM, OR) – Today, the Oregon House passed Senate Bill 281 with a vote of 36-21 to allow people suffering from Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) to qualify for Oregon’s medical marijuana program. It passed the Oregon State Senate earlier this spring.   If signed by the Governor, Oregon will join New Mexico, Connecticut and Delaware as the fourth state to specifically recognize PTSD as an eligible condition for medical marijuana.

The bill, sponsored by Republican Senator Brian Boquist, had bipartisan support in both the Senate and the House. Patients with PTSD, who often have trouble tolerating the side effects of pharmaceuticals prescribed for a variety of PTSD indications such as sleeplessness, anxiety, and social isolation, find that medical marijuana is a helpful alternative. There is also evidence that use of medical marijuana reduces the risk of accidentally overdosing from traditional prescription drug cocktails.

“This is a great victory for the citizens of Oregon, and especially for military veterans who are diagnosed with post-traumatic stress and who have not been able to find relief from prescription medications,” said Jessica Gelay with the Drug Policy Alliance’s office in New Mexico. “Military veterans and victims of serious trauma and violence deserve the freedom to choose the safest treatment for their disabling conditions. They deserve access to the medicine that works for them.”

New Mexico’s medical marijuana program is a nationally recognized model for supporting patients with Post-traumatic Stress Disorder.  Today, more than 3,700 New Mexican residents with PTSD are actively enrolled in New Mexico’s Medical Cannabis Program. Most of them are military veterans, patients living with disabilities, and victims of serious trauma and violent crime.

“When I returned home from Afghanistan I was diagnosed with PTSD. I worked with my doctor and tried many prescription drugs. Taking handfuls of pills every day, every one with a different set of side effects was hard on my body, and I still experienced some symptoms,” said New Mexico resident Michael Innis, who served in the military and who was awarded a Purple Heart after the convoy he was traveling with got hit by an IED and was then ambushed. “Cannabis was not my first choice of medicine, but I can tell you first-hand, this medicine works for me. Cannabis allows me to leave my house and has helped me to return to work.”

The Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) is the nation’s leading organization of people who believe the war on drugs is doing more harm than good. DPA fights for drug policies based on science, compassion, health and human rights.

This information was submitted by: the Drug Policy Alliance. They can be reached at: www.drugpolicy.org or by phone at: (505) 920-5256

Carrots and sticks, honey and vinegar

Posted on 02. Apr, 2013 by Stephan Helgesen in Healthcare, Politics

We are a nation of laws, but we’re also a nation built on incentives. The problem is that our elected representatives do not seem to understand basic human nature.

That may explain why they mostly focus on the sticks (law-making) and don’t consider the carrots (incentives) as a way to influence American  behavior.  Both political parties are guilty of excessive and bone-headed law-making from time to time, but both parties are not always equal in their distrust of their fellow citizens which has led to the passage of hundreds of unwieldy laws and thousands of onerous regulations.

Yes, there is a distinction between laws and regulations. Laws beget regulations. Regulations are the bureaucratic flotsam and jetsam that ultimately wash up on the shores of the unwitting average citizen, and which demand their full and immediate attention. When we realize that a law has spawned a multitude of regulations we’re surprised, confused and angry. We feel betrayed and don’t understand how very different the regulations are from the original law.

At this point, my father would have said, “Son, the devil is in the details,” and he would have been right. That’s where the devil always resides, and he’s not picky about his roommates, either. Here I speak of the thousands of bureaucrats who view themselves as shadow law-makers – ideologically-driven green eye shade types who see regulation-writing as their way of interpreting and influencing the law.

Before I do a number on bureaucrats (which they so richly deserve), let me call out the House and Senate Committees and staffers AND THE GENERAL PUBLIC for either not thoroughly reading the proposed laws and the resultant regulations or for not objecting to them during the review/comment process. Fortunately, (yes I said fortunately), we have lobbyists and non-government organizations (NGOs) that religiously take on that task.

Because their mission is to protect their special interest constituents, they pour over regulations to make sure that the regulators are not pulling a fast one that would disadvantage their bosses. The public should want the same involvement BEFORE the laws were passed as well as during the comment period, but that’s another story. It would seem that many Americans are blasé about the impact that legislation and the ensuing regulations have on their lives.

Case in point is the three-year old 3,256-page Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka. Obamacare). If law professors and political science/civics teachers needed a textbook case for earlier citizen involvement in the political process, this is it. Many credible critics have spoken eloquently on this subject, but Dr. Barbara Bellar (a licensed physician and lawyer in Illinois) stated the bureaucratics and ham-handedness of it succinctly in one (albeit long) sentence:

“We’re going to be gifted with a healthcare plan we are forced to purchase and fined if we don’t which purportedly covers at least ten million more people without adding a single new doctor but provides for 16,000 new IRS agents, written by a committee whose chairman says he doesn’t understand it, passed by a Congress that didn’t read it, but exempted themselves from it and signed by a President who smokes with funding administered by a Treasury chief who didn’t pay his taxes for which we will be taxed for four years before any benefits take effect by a government which has already bankrupted social security and Medicare, all to be overseen by a Surgeon General who is obese and financed by a country that is broke.”

The act created 159 new bureaucracies and boards and thousands of new regulations, and to add insult to injury, the government is now contemplating shortening the public comment time on its proposed regulations from the normal 60 days to 15!

President Theodore Roosevelt (the original Progressive) said, “Walk softly and carry a big stick.” It’s probably time for the Progressives to channel some really big brains like Bugs Bunny, or at the very least, Elmer Fudd. Maybe they can locate some of the carrots they will need to make their makeover plan for America more palatable to the average citizen. Otherwise, they’ll wind up with a very unfunny cartoon parody of a once-great country.

- Editor (Opposing views are always welcomed. Send them to us at: editor@newmexicanvoice.com)

Branding and the Cheesehead Summer: Wisconsin recall fails

Posted on 08. Jun, 2012 by Stephan Helgesen in Economy, Politics, Social/Cultural

Never thought I’d see the day when my beloved Wisconsin was branded!

Last year we were living in what was called, the Recovery Summer. This year it’s the summer of the Cheesehead Revolution and the failure of Wisconsin’s Democrats to unseat and recall their controversial Governor, Scott Walker.

We’re pretty accustomed to branding in the West. Without our brands we’d be rustling and feeding on each other’s livestock.  So, from a practical point of view, the identification aspect of branding makes sense, but the brands have to mean something and stand for something of value.

Re-branding America’s Dairyland

Nothing is immune from branding, not even our states or our state representatives.  I don’t want a brand representing me in Congress or anywhere else for that matter. Nor do I think that states should be branded.

I want representatives and Governors with slightly rough edges who actually say something rather than rolling out a sound-bite, and I certainly don’t want any of our fabulous fifty states straying too far from their beaten paths, creating whole new identities for themselves, either.

Last night, Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin survived an intense recall effort designed to unseat him. Our normally understated laissez-faire cool as cucumbers Wisconsinites spent $17 million of their hard-earned tax dollars for the pleasure of airing their dirty laundry in public, only to confirm the validity of their initial vote. Result: Walker stays. Status quo wins.

Millions more dollars were spent by the organized labor movement in their propaganda campaign leading up to last night’s vote in an effort to brand Walker as a union-buster and the Republicans as cold-hearted callous anti-democratic storm troopers armed with cattle prods on a search-and-destroy mission bound for Local Teachers’36.

Move over Darth Vader

From the outset, the contest was branded as an epic confrontation between good and evil. It was the forces of darkness (Walker and his gang) against the people (organized labor) – the prize being the power to chart the Dairy State’s fiscal and political course for the future.

The only thing the branders seemed to leave out of their argument were the facts, facts like Wisconsin’s dire economic straits due to the escalating cost of public sector union benefits that were bankrupting the state when Walker took office.

But last winter the branders didn’t let those facts get in the way. Instead, they mobilized both in-state and out-of-state and headed for the Wisconsin Capital Building and occupied it, illegally. They shouted, screamed and in general threw a tantrum in the public square. The real victim, though, was decorum which they successfully trounced during days of heated protests with authorities.

Exit Democrats stage left

Their actions were Act II of the Cheesehead street theatre play which started with eleven of Wisconsin’s Democrat legislators fleeing the state for neighboring Rockford, Illinois to avoid doing their elected duty (voting on the legislation that would enable communities to negotiate pension benefits, locally).

After the legislation passed without their vote, the floodgates were opened. The recall petition drive that followed was impressive (garnering 900,000 signatures), and it revealed the strength of the Democrat Party apparatus and of labor unions’ organizational skills.

The opponents of Walker forgot one thing in their zeal to brand him and his supporters of fiscal responsibility as radicals. They forgot that no matter how well organized you are or how fat your checkbook may be, there is nothing, repeat nothing as powerful as an idea whose time has come.

Maybe the Cheesehead Summer in the State of Wisconsin has come just in time for the rest of us to have a serious discussion about the path our country should take going forward.

Wisconsin did prove one thing, however, that where there’s the whey there’s the will.

- Editor

Joy and Grief – Two sides of the coin of life

Posted on 30. May, 2012 by Stephan Helgesen in Social/Cultural

This week I met a woman who runs a center for children’s grief counseling. Her name is Katrina Koehler and she’s been ministering to hundreds of children each year for over ten years at a place called ‘Gerard’s House’ up in Santa Fe.

Most of us push the thought of death as far away from our conscious thoughts as possible, preferring instead to pretend it’s way out there someplace – like a bad tornado that’s swirling around some other community and not on a path of destruction for our town.

I guess that’s only human, but when death strikes our families abruptly like it did for the Sanchez family of Santa Fe back in 1996 after their son, Gerard, died in a car crash, the results are catastrophic, especially for the children of those families affected.

The year 1996 was a particularly bad year for teenage deaths in Santa Fe, with several resulting from auto accidents and others from suicides. The ‘walking wounded’ were the children in the affected families, many of them very young, impressionable youngsters who had never faced tragedy of this magnitude before.

Their brother was gone and wouldn’t ever play video games with them again, or their sister wasn’t around to braid their hair. Maybe their mother or father would no longer tuck them in at night or tell them another bedtime story. It could have been a classmate taken by a swift illness that left the seat in front of them at school forever empty. The pain is excruciating and often confusing.

How do we tell our children about death but more importantly, how do we help them understand their grief and go through their grieving process? That’s the goal of Gerard’s House and what prompted its establishment in 1996.

As I sat on a comfortable sofa in the center, surrounded by the colorful drawings done by grieving children, I saw their grief and pain depicted in many different ways, so I asked Katrina how children experienced such a massive shock like the loss of a parent.

She took a moment, collected her thoughts and seemed to look directly past my eyes into my soul and said calmly that while loss is universal and grieving a natural part of that loss, every single child experiences it differently.

She gestured with her arms around the room and said that this was like a ‘safe house’ for battered emotions, a place where children from the ages of 3 to 21 come together and find safety and get the permission they need to FEEL and DISPLAY their grief.  It was not a place where adults would lay out a six point plan for grief management and expect them to follow it as if it were instructions on building a model airplane.

“No,” she said. “Children need to release their sadness and their pain and even their anger at the unfairness of losing a loved one, and they need to know that they WILL recover and return to joy, eventually.  We choose our ‘companioners’ (volunteer grief counselors) carefully.

We are not here to push children through a clinical regimen. We don’t want them to look good to the outside world but harbor a profound sense of loss on the inside simply because they weren’t shown how to deal with their grief. That is just a recipe for more confusion and more pain when death occurs again.”

My last moments with Katrina were at her memorial wall of remembrance where the photos of deceased Gerard’s House’ children’s parents, brothers and sisters hung proudly, reminding all who walk by them of their special lives, cut short by untimely deaths.

I’m confident their memories will never fade and their sons and daughters, grandchildren, siblings and friends have learned to accept their deaths thanks to the spiritual triage and inherent goodness of people like Katrina and all the volunteers at Gerard’s House.

- Editor: If you’d care to volunteer or to contribute to Gerard’s House, please contact them at: www.gerardshouse.org  Tel. 505/424-1800 or Email: ed@gerardshouse.org

Mining New Mexico’s ‘Gray Gold’

Posted on 29. May, 2012 by Stephan Helgesen in Social/Cultural

A few months ago I was part of an evening cuisine group, happily feeding my face and minding my own business, but as the minutes flew by I became restless with the conversation and decided to liven things up a bit.

I asked the following question of the 65-80 somethings at the table…”How do you all stay relevant now that you’re retired?” The floodgates opened and back came the responses from about eight different people whose former careers had been pretty successful and important a decade or so ago.

It seemed that most volunteered with charities and with fraternal or non-profit organizations like Albuquerque Sister Cities, the Albuquerque Council for International Visitors, Friendship Force, etc.

One tutored teenagers.  Several worked at local museums like the Nuclear Museum, the Albuquerque Art Museum and the Biopark. Many were members of special interest organizations like the Albuquerque Association of University Women.

I was pleasantly surprised at the positive response. Nobody really felt disenfranchised from society or irrelevant though a few admitted they didn’t understand the younger generation, especially the ‘Occupy’ movement, but that kind of generational bewilderment is commonplace.

This got me to thinking about seniorism and how a fair number of our charities and non-profits would simply fold their tents and disappear without the active efforts of volunteers, especially the older ones.

Where the Gray Gold lives

According to the last U.S. Census of 2010, the percentage of New Mexico’s population that’s over the age of 55 is 25.6%, with seniors 65 and over accounting for over half of that figure. The top five counties for retirees 65 and older are: Harding 29.2%, Catron 27.9%, DeBaca 22.9%, Lincoln 22% and Grant 21.3%. In case you’re wondering how Bernalillo and Santa Fe Counties stack up, Santa Fe is at 15.1% and Bernalillo is at 12.2%. The total population that’s over 55 in our state is 529,191.

How do we mine it?

Our retirees are anything but inactive. They join. They travel. They vote. They purchase. They participate in their community’s affairs and they’re vocal – both within their demographic group and outside of it. In addition to our native New Mexican retirees we are blessed (yes I said blessed) to have thousands who’ve chosen our state as their final earthly address.

These people made a conscious decision to put down roots and make our state their own with the knowledge that they will probably always be viewed as out-of-staters.  For proof, just look at the last gubernatorial campaign when our Governor was called, Susana Tejana!

That parochialism aside, we not only need the current level of volunteer participation from the Gray Gold but we need to significantly increase it! Why? Our charities are hurting because of reduced contributions. Fraternal organizations’ events are being curtailed or at least scaled-back because of the economy. Perhaps most importantly, our state’s businesses and local governments need mentors and to be able to tap into the decades’ worth of experience that our Gray Golders have amassed over the course of their careers.

Think of your own circle of friends and of the careers they’ve had and the contacts they’ve made around the world. Imagine what would happen if we were able to harness that experience and information and have it redound to the benefit of the State!

Making it happen

I believe in the power of leadership and the positive effect it can have on all of us. In order for us to turn our Gray Gold into a currency we can use to help our state thrive and prosper we need the highest echelons of state government to organize these thousands of volunteers. There’s a lot of Gray Gold in them thar hills. Now’s the time to put it to work for New Mexico.

- Editor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

Is our pond too small or are we fishing in the wrong place?

Posted on 14. Jul, 2011 by Stephan Helgesen in Economy

I have a friend who’s decided to move her business out of New Mexico. This was not an easy decision. I know, because we discussed it over many months. I failed to persuade her, however, and she’ll be hanging out her company shingle in Dallas in July after living nearly a decade here. She will be leaving behind a grown daughter, many friends and business contacts, former clients and good memories gleaned from many positive experiences. Businesses – like people – can’t survive on memories or on past successes. In our American society, we are only as good as our last performance, but when this is coupled with a deepening recession and the New Mexican attitude of what have you done for me lately, we could see many more businesses head for the exit sign.

Let me explain before this gets too confusing.

Our business sector is not healthy. We don’t have enough well-funded, experienced small businesses that can compete with top notch products and services, and even if they could, there aren’t enough potential customers out there or enough wealth in circulation to sustain them.

We’re top heavy with federal investment in the form of our national labs and military bases, and while these institutions (which I truly admire) do great work and serve to push up our average earnings in the state by employing lots of PhDs and technology specialists, they don’t push out nearly enough of that wealth of creativity and knowledge beyond their walls to the pond where entrepreneurs can turn it into New Mexican jobs. I feel obliged at this point to fall on one knee and thank the Feds for allowing us to keep our bases and labs, otherwise we’d be in double-digit unemployment territory. Without them we’d have fewer ‘downstream’ businesses (suppliers to the labs), and that would set off big alarm bells in hundreds of New Mexican families.

What I’m really saying is that we’re too dependent on federal government investment. We’re not diversified enough. We don’t have enough light-to-medium manufacturing. We don’t have a critical mass of larger companies that use the services of smaller ones. We don’t have enough semi-skilled labor or labor that is ‘second-tier technical’ (the near scientists).  Our tax environment is business unfriendly and our state bureaucracy is unwieldy. While our heads may be soaring in the clouds of the information age and the new-tech economy, our feet and attitudes are mired in the bottom of the pond.

I lived in Singapore for four years, and the expats there would sometimes make fun of their unusual English language usage. For example, when asked if they (the native Singaporeans) could do something, the response was almost always, “Can, can.” There was never a quizzical or doubtful look, but always a positive retort, no matter if redundant. Singaporeans wanted to work and were willing to – any time, any place.

New Mexico is a long way from Singapore in many ways, but I refuse to believe that we’re past the point of no return from that long slide towards bottom. To keep from doing so we will need to make some tough decisions about what kind of business climate we want in the future, otherwise we will most definitely find ourselves swimming with the fishes instead of angling for them. The timing couldn’t be better. Our 100th birthday as a state is coming up in 2012. Let’s start talking about how we can make New Mexico more business-friendly, so that more of them don’t leave us behind with only their memories to keep our tax base warm.

Stephan J. HelgesenStephan Helgesen is a former U.S. diplomat and is currently Honorary Consul for Germany in New Mexico. He can be reached at: stephanhelgesen@cs.com

New Developments in Kit Carson Electric Cooperative Energy Project

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

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

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

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

About Kit Carson Electric Cooperative

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

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

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

About Pulse Broadband

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

About WESCO International, Inc

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

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

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

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