Repeal state's prevailing wage lawA Sept. 13 article in...

the Forum

September 25, 1991

Repeal state's prevailing wage law

A Sept. 13 article in The Evening Sun, "Officials criticized o business issues," contains a misperception. The article states the prevailing wage law "requires companies doing work for the government to pay comparable wages to those they pay in TTC private business." That, in fact, would be the effect of the repeal of the prevailing wage law!

The Maryland prevailing wage law requires government to pay wages that are, in most cases, above the market rate. According to the best data available, it raises the cost of state construction about 15 percent over that in the private sector.

The prevailing wage law is complicated, but the result is that wage rates paid for public construction for all types of labor in each jurisdiction are set by the state, and at rates that can be as high as 100 percent over market rates.

Setting wage rates above the free market raises the cost to taxpayers and causes distortion and disruptions in the economy. Some contractors won't bid on state jobs because of the havoc this creates. If their plumbers, for instance, can earn 30 percent more working on a state job, the plumbers will demand a fair share of the higher rate, and contractors must cycle all their plumbers through that job. This is a real management headache, and it decreases the efficiency of the work force.

But the biggest argument against the Maryland prevailing wage law is its cost to taxpayers. If the state does $300 million in construction which is covered by the law, as it does in a typical year, taxpayers pay $45 million more than they would in a free, competitive market.

There is a national trend to repeal these Depression-era laws ` nine states have done so in the past 10 years. With the budget problems we have in Maryland, this is waste which cannot be tolerated. The time has come for repeal in Maryland.

Robert H. Kittleman

The writer is minority whip in the Maryland House of Delegates.

The name stinks

I think the proposed name for the new stadium, "Camden Yards," stinks. It sounds like a stock yard, where animals are led to slaughter. My pick would be "Oriole Stadium," or the state could install a large replica of an Oriole bird on the front of the new stadium and name it "Birds' Stadium."

Irvin Keiser



It has been about 14 days since both The Sun and The Evening Sun carried stories which quoted U.S. military commanders as saying that we had buried untold numbers of Iraqi soldiers in their trenches, using tanks with earth-moving equipment mounted on the front. And outside my own home, I have heard not one word of comment about the story. Perhaps it was discussed on some TV news show, but I don't watch them.

I can understand that my friends or neighbors may be as appalled as I, faced with the admission that our troops had used a technique which, had its possibility been envisioned, would surely have been banned internationally like germ warfare or poison gas.

But I cannot understand that there has been no editorial comment about this. I may be at a loss for words, but you in the press are supposed to be able to write about anything. Do we just let the news go by because it is too horrible to face?

Mary Bready


Too much hunger

I would like to thank Dan Rodricks for his recent column on hunger in Maryland. His points were well taken, and he expressed the problem facing our state and the entire country.

I, too, think $150 million for a new baseball stadium is outrageous. Charities cannot be expected to raise the necessary funds to keep up with the rising tide of need, and so the homeless and the hungry will remain in dire straits.

We now start a new school year with wonderful innovations in education programs, but how do you educate a hungry child? You can't!

Our president, who seems so stalwart in facing the problems of foreign countries, does not seem to have the courage or compassion to meet the needs of hungry children in his own back yard.

Julia P. Gavin



At 43, Clarence Thomas stands on the verge of becoming our nation's youngest Supreme Court justice. Twenty-eight years ago, a 34-year-old black man, Martin Luther King, articulated a dream on a hot August afternoon that resonated in the conscience and heart of millions of Americans, both black and white.

Today, as Mr. Thomas stands to have a significant hand in this nation's social policies for perhaps the next 30 years, Dr. King's dream appears to be evolving into a nightmare. Pervasive poverty, drugs, rampant homicide, unemployment, malnutrition and infant mortality seem to be inexorably eating away at black America. How Mr. Thomas can philosophically turn his back on this seems to me, a white man, unfathomable.

William Canter


Cruiser decoys

As I passed a police cruiser parked on the Beltway the other day, I had an idea:

Take a picture of the cruiser and blow it up to exact size. Place these replicas a few miles apart on highways and beltways. This will deter drivers from speeding and weaving and other unlawful and dangerous maneuvers. Don't worry about those who might get wise to the idea because some of these placements will be the real thing.

Louis M. Schlimer


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