Wednesday, December 18, 2013
In the front-page article of Feb. 15, "Maine critics say minimum wage plan has risks," Colleen Callahan, manager of Kamasouptra in Portland, disagrees: "I think (the minimum wage) should be $12 an hour. You can't do anything on minimum wage."
Colleen Callahan, manager of Kamasouptra, a soup shop in Portland’s Public Market, supports President Obama’s proposal to raise the minimum wage to $9 an hour, and readers agree with her.
2013 File Photo/John Ewing
Bravo, Colleen. You've got it right.
The idea that an adult working full time in Maine -- eight hours a day, 260 days a year, for $7.50 an hour -- earns just $15,600 a year is shocking.
In this day and age -- when middle-class folks spend that much on a second family car, and celebrities, athletes and CEOs of big companies are "earning" millions -- how can we deny hardworking people, doing what are often tiring jobs, a living wage?
What is America coming to?
Business owners bemoan having to pay a student looking for his first job any more than $7.50 an hour.
Fair enough. So why not have a period of training before they start getting paid, or even establish a separate minimum wage for high school students who want to work part-time after school and college students who need work in the summer?
What's wrong with our legislators, both state and federal, that they haven't figured that one out?
Of our Maine lawmakers in Congress who were questioned about the issue in a sidebar to this story, only Chellie Pingree zeroed in on the most important point: "The current minimum is too little to survive on."
Michael Michaud didn't respond, and both Susan Collins and Angus King murmured that businesses might end up hiring fewer people (though economists have found that does not happen).
The minimum wage should be $12 an hour, $10 an hour for students, and if prices have to be raised to cover that, so be it.
Regarding the article "Maine critics say raising minimum wage has risks" (Feb. 15):
Anyone who cannot afford to pay their employees a living wage should not own a business.
This is about human decency and empathy. Both can be learned.
I offer a proposal to those who object to raising the minimum wage: An applicant for a business license or loan would be required to live for one year on the minimum wage.
Restrictions would be attached, such as: no loans or help from relatives, no government assistance and no access to prior savings.
Applicants would have to research and log the actual costs of living: rent, utilities, transportation, food, etc., including the exact costs of staples such as bread, milk and all essentials to healthy nutrition.
After completing the year, the applicant would submit a written report.
The costs of doing business include the human factor: the cost of paying the human beings employed. If you're not prepared to pay those costs, you have no business being in business.
The "slippery slope" and "ripple effect" arguments cited are specious.
And to the man who said of entry-level workers, "They aren't providing value," shame on you. A person willing to put in a day's work, of no value?
Wage earners spend money. The local economy benefits.
It's time to hold our businesses to a higher standard than we have thus far. It's time our senators looked into the reality of living on the minimum wage.
Be creative, business community, and develop business models that honor the dignity and value of workers.
There is a growing number of conscious and committed consumers out here. The businesses that don't realize that will pay a price higher than any increase in the minimum wage.
Mary Lou Bagley
LAPD's troubled record doesn't justify homicides
Pope Benedict XVI often cautioned against moral relativism, which he felt was the central problem of our time.
Though he has now concluded his papacy, Benedict's words are more resonant than ever.
Indeed, a number of people have embraced suspected murderer Christopher Dorner as a kind of folk hero.
In their view, Dorner was merely trying to clear his name after being unceremoniously fired by a police department with a history of corruption and brutality.
What these individuals fail to grasp is that regardless of the sins of the Los Angeles Police Department, they do not justify the murder of innocent people.
On Feb. 3, Dorner shot and killed Monica Quan and her fiance outside their apartment.
They were apparently targeted because Monica's father was formerly a colleague of Dorner's at the LAPD.
Additionally, Dorner had allegedly addressed Quan in an online rant, stating: "I never had the opportunity to have a family of my own, I'm terminating yours."
These are not the words of a hero or a crusader for justice, but of a madman consumed by vengeance.
To be sure, the Los Angeles Police Department has its own skeletons and a record that is far from spotless.
Yet we must have the moral clarity to see that Dorner's actions have resulted in nothing but pain and suffering for all those involved. Underlying this terrible episode is an objective truth: that murder, by definition, will always be on the side of injustice.
Investigative talents bring Woodard well-earned kudos
Colin Woodard's investigative report on "virtual schools" and the shenanigans behind them provided an enormous service to Mainers, and I was pleased to read that he has been recognized with the George Polk Award ("Reporter Colin Woodard earns prestigious award," Feb. 18).
His report was a true wake-up call for many who hadn't even thought of the implications of how these so-called schools operate and how they would affect Maine students.
One friend was so shocked by what she read that her whole political perspective changed, and she is now questioning more of the ways those "in charge" wield their power and influence.
The Press Herald deserves credit for providing Woodard with the months it took him to fully expose and write about everything he found. This is how great newspapers once served their readers.
The paper is indeed fortunate to have Woodard on its staff.