Allow the market to decide how much workers are paid...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

September 06, 2000

Allow the market to decide how much workers are paid ...

The editorial favoring an increase in the minimum wage showed how The Sun is out of step with reality and likes to pander to populist rhetoric ("Time to share the wealth with wages," editorial, Aug. 26).

There is hardly an economist in the world who does not recognize that an increase in the minimum wage throws less-skilled workers out on the street.

That the economy is booming now and jobs are easy to find does not mean it will always be so. Nor does it mean that any unskilled person can even get a job. Bringing in an individual to work at a low pay rate allows that person to learn work skills at the same time he or she is earning income.

Is it better to have someone not hired for a job that pays $7 per hour or employed at a job that pays $5 per hour?

More fundamental than the numbers involved is this: What clause in the Constitution gives Congress the authority to tell me what wage I can receive for my labors?

If I want to offer my services to Johns Hopkins Hospital, and I am ready to accept $1 per hour, who in Washington should be able to tell me I can't do that?

If people are unwilling to work at a certain pay rate, they can refuse a job or even organize a union.

If The Sun wants to raise pay rates, let it stick to its own work force. But as a Libertarian, I want government out of my face, off my back and away from my wallet.

Minimum wage should be repealed, not encouraged.

Steven M. Sass

Baltimore

... and the places we farm, live and shop

The Sun's editorial characterizing farming as an "endangered industry" is preposterous ("Fair days ahead for farming," Aug 25).

Are we in danger of running out of food? Are our grocery shelves empty? Will we go hungry? I don't think so.

Certainly the industry has undergone many changes over the years, and family farms have been replaced by corporate operations, just as "ma and pa" groceries, drugstores and clothiers have been.

While we may lament those upheavals in traditional ways of life, we must face reality and let the marketplace determine the number and kind of farms we need.

Indeed, if we would stop paying farmers not to grow certain crops and end farm subsidies, the price of our food and government would probably go down.

I also suspect an ulterior motive at work in The Sun's fixation on the Smart Growth agenda.

The Sun would have government determine where we live, where our workplaces and shopping will be and how we will get back and forth -- forcing us onto public transportation that goes only where and when the state wants it to.

But this is America: Let free markets and freedom reign.

Fill 'er up, hon, we're going to the mall.

Dave Reich

Perry Hall

The Sun may be liberal, but is open to other views

I am sometimes amused and sometimes irritated by the oft-repeated charge that the media, and The Sun in particular, are biased liberals.

I think it is true that The Sun's editorials consistently represent a progressive point of view. But the Opinion

Commentary pages regularly include the writings of Tony Snow, Cal Thomas, George Will and other reactionary commentators.

Does not the definition of "liberal" include the tolerance of other points of view? I commend The Sun.

In Tony Snow's column "No real ideas, but lots of fun" (Opinion

Commentary, Aug. 28), for instance, Mr. Snow dismisses both Al Gore and Texas Gov. George W. Bush as too liberal. Among other things, he says that Mr. Gore "defines as rich anybody who has a job and a mortgage."

That is a blatant untruth, but The Sun printed it.

Now tell me how the press is biased.

John V. Chamberlain

Towson

Producing smallpox vaccine carries ominous implications

I read with amazement Julie Bell's biotechnology article "Smallpox vaccine contract in hand" (Aug. 24).

She treated the information as nothing more than a commercial news item. Is it possible that The Sun was unaware of the profound implications of this story?

After a 10-year World Health Organization eradication campaign headed by Johns Hopkins University's D.H. Henderson, smallpox was declared extinct as a human disease in 1977. Since then, the Russian and U.S. governments have held the only officially recognized and, presumably, secure stocks of the virus.

The fact that the U.S. military has contracted for the production of smallpox vaccine strongly suggests it is concerned that smallpox may be used as an agent of biological warfare or in a terrorist attack.

Since smallpox vaccination of the population at large ceased many years ago, the consequences of such a release of the virus would be truly disastrous.

Robert P. Burchard

Catonsville

The writer is professor emeritus of biological sciences at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

Ruling on stem cell research deserved a more critical eye

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