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Boosting Minimum Wage for Lowest-Paid Workers Would Help Enrich the Economy

January 31, 1988

There are some points in "Minimum Wage, Maximum Controversy" that I would like to refute. The column asks us to put ourselves in the position of employers who will have to pay for the minimum wage if it is increased. The employers' response, the writers say, would be to "pass the increase in costs to consumers through higher prices, substitute machines and more highly skilled workers for the unskilled, hire illegal aliens at the illegal free-market wage, or, if all else fails, go out of business."

They fail to mention one other alternative for the employer--accept lower profits--or is that unthinkable? Many of them could drive a Cadillac instead of a Mercedes and still survive, own one summer home instead of two and live without other assorted luxuries to which they feel they are entitled. Maybe they are, but their employees are also entitled to a decent living wage since they are providing the labor, which in great part is providing the employer with all those goodies.

Moreover, substituting machines and skilled labor could cost a pretty penny, possibly more than an increased minimum wage would. Throwing unskilled workers onto the welfare rolls could cost more in the long run for everyone, including business. All in all, employers as a whole would be better off accepting the $4.25 minimum wage, even if it means going without filet mignon once a week.

SHIRLEY WOLF

Santa Monica

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