I thought Jim Bowman [The living wage is socialism at its worst, Viewpoints, March 4] was an intelligent gentleman focused on logical, rational discourse. How does he morph from a push for a minimum wage increase to socialism, German national socialism (i.e. Nazi) and autocracy? That isn’t discourse, that’s hyperbolic rant, using scare words and phrases.

The major complaint against raising the minimum wage is that it will reduce jobs. But many, if not most, minimum wage jobs are for food servers (e.g. McDonald’s, et al), landscapers, and day-work hires. Don’t you think the owners/managers of these firms are always trying to reduce staff? That’s one of capitalism’s hallmarks: more output with less input. And while it’s true that many such employees can, in time, work their way up to better-paying jobs, the fact is that there is always going to be demand for low-wage jobs. Don’t you think we, as a nation, can do better than having workers earning below-subsistence wages, unable to survive without having to work two or more jobs?

As for “free market, unhindered by government interference,” I’m not aware of any such free markets in America. Consider farming. What are the results of totally free markets? In boom years for a crop, prices fall due to an over-supply. The next year, many fewer farmers plant that crop because they can’t make ends meet at the previous year’s prices. So, less production, and prices boom. The following year, the cycle is repeated.

Or consider commercial fishing. With good prices, many fishermen continue harvesting until the species becomes extinct. That market disappears completely, never to return. Unless, of course, the dreaded government interference steps in to limit the annual harvest in order to maintain a decent overall number for the species. Remember the passenger pigeon? Harvested for their plumage to place on women’s hats.

Or consider professional sports. What would happen without the artificial restraints of salary caps and luxury taxes? One or more owners, in their irrational zeal to produce a winning team, would commit to totally crazy salaries, perhaps back-end loaded to minimize current cash drain, eventually ending with team bankruptcy. The NHL has been through this; other sports have seen the relocation of teams to avoid such a fate.

No, this isn’t socialism. This is just a recognition that, like many things in life, capitalism needs some limits and constraints. It may not function as efficiently as the perennial “race to the bottom” model, but it is far better for the health of the nation and all its citizens.

Ed Panschar

Florida, formerly of Oak Park

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