Letters to the Editor for March 4, 2014

Pike was right

In the Feb. 25 Post-Record, two writers attack State Rep. Liz Pike (R-Camas) for what one calls “well-worn gold plated Republican” positions on minimum wage laws. Liz is right.

Minimum wage laws are an example of good intentions that produce not so good results. Whenever the government mandates a price for a good or service that differs from the market price, it will cause either a shortage (if the price is too low) or a surplus (if the price is too high). This is as certain as water running down hill no matter how much our good intentions wish it was otherwise.

So when the government tells an employer they may not hire someone who has a skill level that is not productive enough for the minimum wage, unless that employer wants to subsidize the worker, the person with a low skill set will not be hired. They will remain unemployed and potentially in poverty. They will not be allowed to compete with higher paid workers. Their minimum wage is zero.

Workers hired at the minimum wage are disproportionately young. One of the writers writes that the minimum wage is inadequate to support a single person. Only about 2 percent of the workforce work force over the age of 25 earns the minimum wage according to a 2004 U.S. Department of Labor study. If younger workers work hard in a short time they will acquire the skills to get a higher wage and move out of their parent’s house and earn more than the minimum wage.

The writers’ engage in ad hominem attacks on Liz Pike, Republicans, and even employers (e.g., “miserable Republican created economy” and “[e]mployers could underpay a worker for a season, then discard them without reason .... and rehire another sub-minimum wage worker to continue underpaying their employees...”).

This is hardly dispassionate analysis and the writers would do well to remember that motives aren’t the same as results.

If they looked at results they would learn that minimum wage laws reduce in employment. Canada traditionally has had higher minimum wage laws than the United States and also higher unemployment. The seven countries of the European Union without minimum wage laws, also have the lowest unemployment rates. Switzerland I don’t believe has ever had a minimum wage law and it causes concern when its unemployment rate reaches 4 percent. Hong Kong, under British rule and without a minimum wage law, typically had unemployment rates of 2 percent. Under Chinese rule, with a minimum wage law, the rate has been in the 7-8 percent range.

Liz Pike should be credited for thinking outside of box.

Brent Boger, Washougal

Proud to be a Papermaker

This little town never fails to impress me. It is not just the proximity to PDX and all the big city fun of Portland. It is not just the gorgeous scenery of the Columbia River, and views of Mt. Hood guiding me home along Highway 14 every evening. It is not just the positive economic climate that has been cleverly crafted by local leaders. It is not even the awesome school district, which is one of the state’s best. It is the people. And most recently, it has been the younger people.

I heard through the grapevine (runs rampant in this community), that the kids at Camas High School had learned about the McLoughlin Jeep Cash for Schools competition. They sprang into action, convincing everyone they knew to vote for Camas. Out of all the schools in Southwest Washington and the greater Portland area, they were able to acquire the most votes. This means that they were able to connect with their community to let their needs be known and in turn have the community respond in masses. That is how the phrase “it takes a village to raise a child” works.

What made me so proud to be a Papermaker wasn’t that we supported our kids and schools and won the competition, it was what they decided to do with the winnings that made me beam. The student body decided to “pass it forward” by helping a struggling school in Portland fund their new band program. This act of kindness and higher purpose will be remembered by both the givers and the receivers for many years. Congratulations Camas The proof is in the pudding, you are raising some completely awesome young citizen students. Go Papermakers!

Sharon Farra, Washougal