What America needs: Jobs that pay a living wage

August 24, 2011

Recently, Dan Rodricks took on the Republicans in Congress who want to pay down the federal budget deficit by raising taxes on the middle class and the poor ("Tax the poor, protect the rich," Aug. 21).

Never mind that these segments of the population already barely have enough for necessities, much less the wherewithal to pay taxes that should be borne by those who have the most: wealthy individuals and corporations.

Yet the wealthy are considered more moral, somehow better people than the rest of us, and thus deserving of windfall profits and legal loopholes that allow them to pay little or nothing in taxes.

From the point of view of fairness as well as generating economic activity, it would be far better to adopt a "jobs for all" policy — one under which anyone willing to work should be able to find a job that pays a living wage. Jobs such as rebuilding the country's crumbling infrastructure would offer all citizens enough money to eat, clothe themselves and be able afford a modest home as well as health care.

A negative income tax, a mechanism praised by former President Ronald Reagan and conservative economist Milton Friedman, should kick in when the private sector cannot, or will not, pay workers a living wage.

Lee Lears, Annapolis

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