Saturday Mailbox


February 19, 2005

Let the market set the floor for our wages

In a game of keeping up with the Joneses (or in this case, Delaware and Washington), the powers that be in the Maryland Legislature have placed in the hopper a bill to increase the minimum wage to $6.15 an hour ("Md. legislators to push for minimum-wage rise," Feb. 11).

The Sun's article notes that just 2 percent of Maryland's hourly workers would actually directly benefit from this increase; however, this doesn't count the thousands of people who make just above the minimum wage, who would also get a bump up in wages.

Then the people just a little more skilled up the employment ladder would see the people below them get wages that now equal theirs, and demand raises for themselves, and so forth. All this adds up to inflationary pressure.

And all this leaves me, as a salaried worker who negotiated his own wage, scratching my head as to how I would continue to enjoy the standard of living I sought by coming here and taking my job while prices go up around me.

Sooner or later, after prices go up, people will demand a higher minimum wage, since "just" $6.15 an hour will not do. Then the merry-go-round will circle again.

I have a simpler, more business-friendly solution: How about sun-setting the minimum wage and letting the market eventually control itself?

Michael Swartz


Toxic vaccine bill could curb autism

Thank you for The Sun's article "Studies focus on detecting autism early" (Feb. 11).

It came the day after a hearing in the House of Delegates in which a compelling case was made on the relationship between childhood vaccines containing thimerosal and neuro-developmental disorders such as autism, attention deficit disorder and speech and language delays.

Thimerosal is a preservative added to vaccines (including flu shots) that contains the toxic metal mercury. There are vaccines available that do not have this toxin, although most patients do not know they have this choice, let alone the risk of thimerosal.

California and Iowa have already passed legislation banning thimerosal and sparing many of their children from a lifetime of disability. Now it's Maryland's turn.

Passing this bill would make it illegal for Marylanders under age 3 and women known to be pregnant (the highest risk groups) to receive a vaccine that contains mercury or other heavy metals.

This bill could do better than detecting autism early. It might prevent it.

It seems like a no-brainer way to save brains.

Kim Burton


Space exploration isn't a top priority

In recent news, we have heard much about the challenges facing Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, welfare programs, education programs. Lots of news, and lots of commentaries.

And what is the answer of our country's chief executive to these common needs of average American citizens?

To this executive, the right thing to do is to cut funds for welfare, health and education and to eliminate many other programs that make life a little bit more bearable for the average citizen.

The president claims these cuts are necessary because there is not enough money available to fund these programs. Perhaps that is so.

However, this same executive is proposing large expenditures for various space programs ("Vision threatens space science," Feb. 13).

Don't get me wrong. I am an engineer. Space programs are exciting and exhilarating. However, I would rather be able to pay for my housing, my medical care, my food and my children's education first.

I am willing to wait for space exploration until such time as we can afford its huge expense.

Sidney Rankin


Budget priorities make little sense

In his column "Half a trillion dollars - and change" (Opinion

Commentary, Feb. 11), Loren Thompson writes that the huge military Pentagon budget for 2006 received only a minute or two of coverage by broadcast media and was buried in the major print media.

To spend so much of our financial and creative human resources on America's draconian weapons of death and destruction is sick beyond belief.

On the same date, The Sun considered intolerable the budget cuts at the Laurence G. Paquin Middle/High School ("Restoring Paquin," editorial, Feb. 11). On another day, it could just as easily be cutbacks in the regular school system, libraries, crime and drug prevention programs or clean environment programs.

Are we blind? Can we not see the connection?

And what do the governor and others propose for a solution? Lower taxes and legalized gambling, with all of its ills.

Have we given up hope of our government doing what is right and intelligent?

The grip of the military-industrial complex, of which President Dwight D. Eisenhower prophetically warned, seduces Democrats and Republicans alike.

Every elected official in Baltimore and the entire state should be up in arms, knocking on the doors of Congress with a call to wake up before the damage is irreversible.

Susan Macfarlane


First lady just uses school as backdrop

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