1:15 PM CST, February 12, 2013
I am writing in response to Bill Barry's commentary ("A farewell to jobs?" Feb. 8). While I sympathize with him in his concern for American job losses, his solutions are worse than the problem.
His suggestion to shorten the workweek is rife with issues. If it were reduced to 32 hours, do you pay employees 20 percent less since they are now working 20 percent fewer hours? If so, how are they going to survive? If you continue to pay full salary, where is the extra money going to come from to pay new employees hired to take up the slack?
His idea to lower the retirement age to 60 would be a disaster. All it would accomplish would be to bankrupt Social Security decades sooner.
His "Medicare for all" plan would do the same to Medicare. Besides, he confuses health insurance with health care. While it's surely not the ideal solution, medical treatment is available at the emergency room for those who are temporarily unemployed and uninsured.
Increase the minimum wage? Does he understand that the minimum wage is for entry level employees, for those who have no job skills yet? If companies were forced to increase the wages for unskilled, entry level employees by 50 percent (which would be necessary to keep up with inflation since 1968), what would that do to the wage scale of the rest of the employees? Where is that money going to come from? The only answer is higher prices across the board or more of all the things he noted at the beginning of his commentary. Mr. Barry seems to think that wages and prices are an arbitrary construct that have no relationship to supply, demand, productivity and technological advances.
Expand unionism? Really? It may be trite to suggest that unions are not examples of models of efficiency but it's trite because it's true. The numbers may well demonstrate that "unionized workers get higher pay and better benefits," but an expansion of unionism will result, once again, in higher prices. How is that a good thing for the unemployed or anyone else for that matter? Not to mention that the higher wages and unrealistic benefits that the auto unions got out of GM led to its needing to be bailed out of bankruptcy by the government.
The biggest problem with Mr. Barry's commentary is that nowhere in it is there any mention of free market solutions. Instead, his "bold plan" is nothing more than a rehash of the liberal ideas that haven't worked in the past and will do nothing but make the situation worse.
Robert Gellert, Glen Burnie