Can we tell mildly crazy from real crazy?

Commentary by Michael Swickard, Ph.D.  New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez recently was talking about trying to help our more dysfunctional mentally ill citizens. That is a good thing for government to do. But the act of dealing with our mentally ill population seems to ask more questions than we can answer. We know real mentally ill when it is someone else, but where is the dividing line between eccentric and somewhat crazy that necessitates an intervention? Years ago there were mental institutions. They served as a warehouse but it was even worse than what we have now which is mostly neglect. These institutions focused predators upon the most fragile populations and the outcomes were horrible.
So where is the boundary between mildly dysfunctional and where an intervention is appropriate. One of my interests is summiting mountains. Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson climbed Mount Everest where one person in seven die in the attempt. Is it mental illness to do something where one in seven dies? And, what about those who are trying to climb more difficult mountains such as Annapurna where one in three die in the attempt. Should we intervene to save their lives? Do we have the constitutional right to intervene?
When someone is living on the street but otherwise is not harming anyone, do they have a constitutional right to live on the street? That is so obvious. But what about when someone who dates an obviously inappropriate person? Should there be the department of “She will never love you,” that intervenes. Talk about hard knocks, if you marry the wrong person, it will also be the wrong person to divorce. Should we, as a society intervene?
Light up a cigarette and I would like to read your tea leaves for you but it seems you have a right to harm yourself. Let us consider those who desire to take illegal drugs. Are they mentally ill? Perhaps they do not have a drug problem, they have a thinking problem.
What about those who feel compelled to text and drive? Another thinking problem, or are they mentally ill? We can identify some forms of mental illness, but do we really understand these issues well enough to know the boundaries of mental illness?
So we are back to where I started this column. Having our mentally ill in jails is not a good solution. Letting the mentally ill languish on the streets or in private homes may not be the most sustainable solution for the good of the society as a whole.
I hope New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez and both sides of the political spectrum can come together and find real solutions to the mentally ill challenges of our society. Maybe we should tackle mental illness before we tackle poverty. Maybe curing one would cure the other. Maybe we, as a society, are the ones with a thinking problem. Read full column

Negotiations breakdown over solar company operation

From - By: Joe Vigil - Many thought McCune Solar Works would be the savior of Schott Solar at Mesa del Sol in Albuquerque. Not so. On Wednesday, Schott officials confirmed to KOB Eyewitness News 4 that discussions regarding the lease of the Schott Solar facility were abandoned.
"After several months of negotiations, both parties regretfully failed to come to final terms," read a statement from Shott to KOB.
Back in the fall, McCune Solar Works said it would pick up operations at Schott Solar and employ 130 people with average wages of $50,000. About 200 people lost their jobs at Schott. The new company had plans to rehire many Schott employees. Schott Solar said it will continue looking for a new tenant of the Mesa Del Sol facility. Read more