Minimum wage ‘benefits’

There is a presumption that raising the minimum wage will help the local economy, but where is this extra money coming from? If it comes out of the profits of the business owners, they will have less money to spend locally, whether for personal or business purposes. So there’s no gain there.

If businesses reduce or eliminate raises to some employees to offset the increased minimum wages to other employees, they will have less money to spend, so that’s a deal in which we break even.

On the other hand, if businesses raise prices to offset the increased wages, their customers will have less money to spend elsewhere. Consequently, other businesses in the area will have fewer sales and may be forced to reduce their payroll.

So where is this increased GDP coming from?

It seems a lot of small businesses in Maine support raising the minimum wage. So one can’t help wondering whether they are currently paying more than the minimum wage. After all, paying higher wages reduces turnover, which increases productivity and cuts cost. It only makes sense to pay higher wages now instead of wait for a government mandate.

Of course, if we’re going to increase the minimum wage, we should also increase Social Security benefit payments for retired Americans as well. After all, that would boost the local economy even more.

David Smith

Newport

Vote yes on Question 1

Maine is leading the way on one of the most important political issues in decades: getting big money out of politics.

This November there is a referendum, Question 1, on the ballot that will reform Maine’s campaign finance system; increase transparency; and limit the influence big money has on politicians so they are accountable to us, not wealthy campaign donors and special interests.

More than 80,000 Mainers signed a petition to place this referendum on the ballot and restore every voice in our politics.

If Mainers believe in a democracy representative of the people, they should vote yes on Question 1 this Nov. 3. It will give everyday people the chance to run a viable campaign without being dependent on contributions from wealthy special interests or corporations so that our Legislature truly represents the people of Maine.

When politicians depend on contributions from wealthy special interests, they vote with the special interests in mind and the issues that matter to everyday people, such as education and job creation, will get ignored. We deserve politicians who work for us.

Emily Whitaker

Orono

Tax carbon emissions

The many people who have been working for years to battle climate change have cause to rejoice. Not only did Hillary Clinton recently express opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline, but Royal Dutch Shell announced Sept. 28 it is ceasing oil exploration off Alaska’s Arctic coast.

With this momentum we can hope Congress soon enacts legislation to price carbon emissions. Years ago, George Shultz, an economist and former secretary of state under President Ronald Reagan, drafted a proposal to tax emissions, and Citizens’ Climate Lobby is working to promote a bill that would create a revenue-neutral carbon fee and dividend approach that would prompt a market-driven conversion to clean energy.

A huge number of scientists, environmentalists and economists urge that a fee should be charged for carbon emissions. After all, as environmental and writer Bill McKibben says, the oil industry is the only business that “gets to dump its garbage for free.” However, until recently, many people thought that carbon would never be priced because of opposition from Big Oil.

But miracles do happen. The New York Times announced in a June 6 editorial that six large European oil and gas companies called for a price to be placed on carbon.

It isn’t just people “from away” who are making such proposals. In July, Maine’s Sen. Angus King wrote to a constituent, “The EPA’s Clean Power Plan is a great first step, but it only regulates carbon from one sector, electricity generation. … Despite the great individual success [of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative] I believe there is an important role to be had for a national carbon reduction initiative. … A fee on carbon may be a fair and equitable way to achieve this goal.”

Fern Stearns

Hallowell