Letter to the Editor: Are some burdens heavier than others?

The commentary, “Minimum wage hike would burden Delaware businesses” by Dr. John Stapleford and associate Justin Chan of the (libertarian) Caesar Rodney Institute, and the subsequent Speak Out comments, left out discussion of a number of related but equally important issues.

First, Stapleford made reference to studies supporting his position but did not name or cite them. It is a fact that studies can be carried out in a manner to support a preconceived conclusion. I have seen it happen.

Most likely there will be at least some bias in any given study. The best way to evaluate a proposal is to read studies across the whole range of perspectives.

Second, Stapleford gives attention to the problem of the “burden” on business. How about we give equal attention to the “burden” of cheapskate minimum wages on people who are up against uncontrollably increasing costs of living that keep going up? I can pencil out a typical “working poor” budget that shows that it gets you a hand-to-mouth, paycheck-to-paycheck existence.

Most people are not aware that such a situation (the working poor) is usually not the fault of the individual but the whims of overlings and various kinds of bad luck in life like sudden medical problems, car accidents, and crime. Actual laziness is rare. Most people who lose their job are victims of economic recessions or plant closings.

Third, the economies of most countries around the world involve a mixture of state-operated (the term “socialist” would not be incorrect) businesses and privately owned (capitalist) businesses. About 35% of the US economy is state owned. In Russia and China, about 55% of their economy is state-owned.

Thus state-operated businesses give us such benefits as free highways, free compulsory education, welfare, and nonprofit businesses such as the USPS, the military, etc. These are parts of our society and economy and they also help businesses. They are paid for out of fees and taxes.

Stapleford and the conservative-libertarian mindset probably do not take into account these benefits in terms of what they give to businesses and individuals). But if a government-mandated law could be a threat to the business bottom line, then they will complain. But it is very rare that a business will turn down a government subsidy or tax break.

Fourth, there is a moral and ethical component to an opinion like Stapleford’s which is only concerned with the “…burden to Delaware business.” The derogatory word “entitlement” enters the conversation whenever the subject of the conversation is about a low-level employee who wants or needs higher compensation or an unemployed person getting any kind of transfer payments.

These people have zero control over their rent, the prices they pay, or their income. But how about this: the rich and the upper 1% always feel “entitled” to control their costs and set prices so they can control their net income. And they even want to pay less or zero taxes? Many big corporations already pay zero taxes.

Arthur E. Sowers
Harbeson