Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

April 19, 2005

State taxpayers, business bashed by lawmakers

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s lack of joy at a recent bill-signing ceremony is nothing compared with the sadness taxpayers and businesses throughout Maryland are feeling ("For Ehrlich, bill-signing ceremony isn't much to write home about," April 13).

Having begun 2005 with a massive tax increase on health care, the news from Annapolis has only worsened.

Creating costly new mandates on Wal-Mart is not going to help the state's bid to attract the company's new distribution center. Worse, this willingness to pick on one successful company shows that Maryland is only open for some businesses, sometimes.

The most devastating bill of all would be the minimum-wage increase. Economic study after economic study has shown that higher minimum wages fail to raise overall wage levels and reduce overall employment by making unskilled and teenage workers more expensive to hire.

Worse, by raising the cost of labor, minimum-wage increases raise inflation, which sticks all consumers with an unnecessary and economically unhealthy "tax increase."

Perhaps 2005 can be salvaged from the perspective of taxpayers but, with the legislature's current tilt to the left, that looks unlikely.

Paul J. Gessing

Alexandria, Va.

The writer is director of government affairs for the National Taxpayers Union.

Hurting employers who won't pay way

What a marvelous bit of statecraft it was to pass a bill that would require Wal-Mart to pay more of its workers' health care costs ("Union uses state in Wal-Mart fight," April 15).

One of the more intriguing figures in the debate was Senate Minority Leader J. Lowell Stoltzfus, who (along with Wal-Mart) indicated that such legislation would discourage Wal-Mart from building a distribution center in Somerset County that would purportedly create 1,000 jobs.

A logical inquiry on this issue would be to wonder, how many of these new jobs come with health insurance?

If the answer is that few or none of them would (which I strongly suspect), then the governor is not quite correct that "this is the stuff that hurts us when we get into serious negotiations with companies who want to expand or bring business to Maryland."

But the health care tax would only discourage employers who don't wish to insure their employees.

Paul R. Schlitz Jr.

Baltimore

Health care tax levels playing field

As a Harford County small businessman, I strongly support the recently passed Fair Share Health Care legislation ("Union uses state in Wal-Mart fight," April 15).

I work very hard to provide quality, affordable health care to our employees. I know that a part of the high premiums I pay goes to pay for the hospitalization of the uninsured.

Therefore, I am effectively subsidizing the large companies that do not provide full health care coverage. That is not right.

The Fair Share Health Care law will redress this imbalance by requiring the largest companies in the state to spend at least 8 percent of their payroll on health care.

If Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. really wants to be pro-business, he should sign into law this measure that would help the vast majority of businesses, like mine, that are trying so hard to do the right thing.

Mark Derbyshire

Aberdeen

The writer is vice president of a moving and storage company.

Critics of Wal-Mart can just steer clear

I am tired of hearing people complain about Wal-Mart ("Union uses state in Wal-Mart fight," April 15).

We live in a free country. When you are hired for a job, you are given information about pay and benefits. No one forces you to take the job. You shouldn't accept the job and then whine about the conditions of employment.

If you don't like the way Wal-Mart does things, don't work there.

Debra Glassman

Carney

Push poor people into the work force

I guess it had to happen. At first, we were told we need illegal immigrants because they will do the low-paying jobs that Americans won't do. I took exception to that idea from the beginning, because I have always felt that a low-paying job is better than no job at all.

Now I read Marjorie Valbrun's editorial "Passing time" (April 9), and I find that Brian Hall of G. W. Hall & Son Seafood on the Eastern Shore is having problems because this year he cannot bring in seasonal workers from Mexico to pick crabs.

He has advertised extensively for local crab pickers but cannot attract them because, in effect, he only pays the minimum wage.

So I must assume that either there is no unemployment on the Eastern Shore, or that income received by those on some type of public assistance program is providing them with a better income than they would receive by working for the minimum wage.

What we need are sensible laws that control how much and for how long someone can receive income from a public assistance program.

If those benefits are limited, people will be forced back into the work force, even at a minimum-wage job.

Then they would begin paying income taxes to support the economy that had been supporting them.

Michael Connell

Baltimore

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