ROBBER BARONS OF THE 19TH CENTURY, chapter 2? (also gun logic, per Bob Libby)

Las Cruces Sun News 11/04/2015, Page A04

Your opinions

New chapter of robber barons in Las Cruces

Early in 2007, Las Cruces’ movers and shakers were giddy with the announcement of “Vistas of Presidio” and its prospect of doubling the city’s population. The developer of this project seemed to have a Midas touch, passing out money to state officials, local candidates for office and various local “good causes.”

The unraveling of this bounty occurred in slow motion, coinciding with the barely averted meltdown of the U.S. banking system in 2008 caused by “liar loans,” fraudulent mortgage marketing and an earlier loosening of banking regulations.

Sadly, our movers and shakers never got over their gold fever, expecting their chosen candidates for local office to deliver them another bounty, coupled with the return of “drive-by building inspections” and other delights of the Las Cruces of 20 years ago.

It’s not surprising that local second-generation wealth seeks to leverage its way to even greater wealth by, in this case, orchestrating barriers to wage growth among struggling workers in the area and agitating against community improvements because, of course, wealth lives within its own bubble.

One path to greater sustained growth of the local economy is to welcome new business with favorable commercial space lease rates in our abundant local inventory. Sadly, as soon as demand for commercial space develops, lease rates go up, disadvantaging established businesses and discouraging new ones. Government can’t help this problem, but the private sector can.

Of course, what can we expect locally, when on the national stage, a billionaire seeks to buy the office of the president, and a couple of billionaire brothers seem to have already bought Congress and are lusting after the judiciary.

Welcome to the Robber Baron era of the 19th century, Chapter 2. 

— Dan Townsend, Las Cruces

LAS CRUCAN PROPOSES A NEW WAY TO APPROACH THE GUN DEATH DILEMMA IN THE U.S. (as published in the Las Cruces Sun-News)

Regulate gun ownership more like we do cars

When I was a child, I remember my grandfather telling me how he learned to drive on his way home from buying his first car. Boy, have we come a long way since then.

Now roads are paved, there are guardrails, seat belts, licensing, registration and mandatory insurance. The death rate per million miles driven has decreased substantially due to all of the above, and more.

Now our country is faced with a gun death crisis. More than 30,000 people die each year from handguns. Many are suicides and a great number are accidental. What we need now are new safety guidelines. These should include new “smart gun” technology, which consists of guns that will not fire unless the owner has a remote key similar to that of some new cars. Alternatively, there could be fingerprint recognition or use of a pin. One important safety feature is to make guns inoperable without the magazine inserted. This alone could prevent many accidental deaths. Almost everyone accepts the wisdom of a driver’s license, which is obtained by passing a written test and a driving exam. It seems reasonable to me to require this for the operation of guns, too. This, incidentally, may provide the examiner an opportunity to evaluate the applicant’s mental state.

Guns, like cars, should be registered so that a chain of ownership can be determined. This would help identify unscrupulous dealers who may be supplying undesirable owners, i.e. criminals, minors or mentally incompetent buyers. Lastly in seems to make perfect sense that, like motor vehicles, liability insurance should be required of the owners, too. In this way accident victims could be fairly compensated. I hope you will agree that the above suggestions will lead to a safer society by implementing rules no more onerous than those required to drive. 

— Bob Libby, Las Cruces

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