I roused letter writer Ed Panschar from his Floridian slumber with my March 3 column about socialism and the so-called living wage, and he came awake flailing [Bowman doesn’t seem to understand capitalism, Viewpoints, April 1]. Where am I? he sputtered. What was that noise? Who did that? 

In a flash he saw it was me, and played the angry hornet. I was no “intelligent gentleman focused on logical, rational discourse,” but had engaged in “hyperbolic rant, using scare words and phrases.” 

Ah, but one of the alleged hyperbolisms was to tag mandated wage as socialistic when it’s being pushed in Oak Park exclusively by local socialists. Hyperbolic? 

The other was to mention evil people and institutions as major branches of the socialist family tree. Or does Ed think our locals sprang fully formed from their righteous indignation? Change your name, I told them. Become Democrats. 

As for Ed’s argument in favor of government meddling in private businesses, he says, “We as a nation can do better than having workers earning below-subsistence wages,” as if mandated minimums help. Thing is, they don’t, except (obviously) for a very few for a short time. 

He has a handle on “capitalism’s hallmarks,” he thinks, and gives himself away by telling us, “owners/managers of these firms are always trying to reduce staff” — always! — and dismissing the job-killing problem with “there is always going to be demand for low-wage jobs.” Nothing to see here. 

In any case, he apparently means demand for low-cost labor and he has to mean when it’s priced to sell. When it’s priced to make lawmakers look good, not so much. 

He oddly rebuts my “free market, unhindered by government interference” reference by saying he knows of nowhere it’s to be found. Yo, same for perfectly happy towns and villages. We fret over how to achieve it. The happier the better, we say. 

The freer the better too, I say, in line with my “democracy calls for open bidding, not a state directive.” The more of the open bidding, the better; the less of the state directive, ditto. We don’t have enough of the one, too much of the other, which is why I rant about it, if he insists that I merely rant. 

Ed is content with the way things are. Capitalism as we know it, he says, “may not function as efficiently as the perennial ‘race to the bottom’ model [deregulating for the sake of growth], but it is far better for the health of the nation and all its citizens.” If you ignore the benefits of growth it is, but why do that? 

He doesn’t think we can do better, as to results — i.e. improving the lives of citizens — or as to personal freedom, by limiting governmental interference. I do.

Jim Bowman

Oak Park

Join the discussion on social media!