Wages and the economy

Thomas Sowell's recent column about the effects of minimum wage laws invites some comments.

He says that a fundamental principle of economics is people tend to buy more when the price is lower and less when the price is higher; thus, people will lose their jobs if the minimum wage increases. This principle has to be qualified to draw those conclusions:

  • It ignores income. If income also rises, buyers may end up buying more if the income effect dominates the price effect.

  • It ignores expectations. If a price rise generates expectations of further rises, people may buy more now to avoid paying more later.

  • It ignores other prices. If other prices rise even more than the price of the good or service in question, the said good or service may become cheaper.

  • An increase in the minimum wage may make a job more valuable and, by reducing turnover, lower the costs of hiring and training new workers.

    So viewed, an increase in the minimum wage is beneficial not only for workers, but also for employers and the economy in general.

    Theodore Haniotis

    Berkeley

    X-rated films at the library

    The Berkeley Public Library now offers X-rated films listed as Unrated, NC 17 (no one under 17 allowed), R and some that just state in small print that there is explicit sexuality.

    The latest unrated film features actual sex acts. These can be self-checked out by anyone holding a library card, including youngsters. If they are going to have X-rated movies that youngsters can self-check out, it seems to me city representatives and parents should be aware of it.

    It is my opinion the library must start controlling material that is self-checked out to be age appropriate. l do not understand why the Berkeley Public Library has sanctuary from moral standards the rest of us consider common sense.

    Thomas Lynch

    Berkeley

    How clear, how wrong

    According to David Fore's Sept. 27 letter in the Times, global warming was founded by Al Gore some years ago to make money for thousands of lying scientific researchers all over the world to get grant money given by deluded fools and governments hungry to raise taxes in new creative ways.

    How clear, how simple, how obvious -- how wrong.

    Of course, everyone knows science consists of countless grant-hungry liars who can't be trusted. Incredibly, however, in the midst of their greed, they have managed to create modern medicine, the Internet, digital technology, space flight, and, well, all those other clear and obvious products of delusion and deception.

    H.L. Mencken once said, "For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." Thanks, Fore, for proving Mencken right.

    Michael Steinberg

    Berkeley

    Keep Purdy in the South Bay

    It is obvious from Mark Purdy's Sept. 20 Times article about Oracle Team USA and the America's Cup races that he knows very little about sailboat racing. And he couldn't care less.

    I am very tired of his puffed-up and snooty articles appearing in the Times, degrading the Oakland A's and this America's Cup. This is our home newspaper and I would appreciate it if Purdy's articles stay in the South Bay.

    As to the possibility of the A's moving to San Jose? The short answer: No. The long answer: No, no and no.

    Kathleen Dolan

    Berkeley

    Israel is an apartheid state

    I am referring to Larry Waldron's Sept. 6 letter. Waldron is correct when he wrote that Israel is an apartheid state as per Bishop Tutu, President Jimmy Carter and others.

    After visiting Israel-Palestine to see for himself, South African Jewish leader Ronnie Kasrils commented: "This is much worse than apartheid ... Israeli measures, the brutality, make apartheid look like a picnic. We never had jets attacking our townships. We never had sieges that lasted month after month. We never had tanks destroying houses."

    Israel was established in 1948 and forced more than 800,000 Palestinian Muslims and Christians from their homes and destroyed 500 Palestinian villages inside its new borders. Israel declared itself Jewish and democratic, an obvious oxymoron.

    Palestinians are the indigenous inhabitants, unlike the Jews who are mostly recent immigrants. From 1948 to 1966, Israel put its non-Jewish inhabitants (20 percent of the population) under martial law, while Jews were put under a civil justice system.

    During these years, Israel confiscated more than 60 percent of the land and properties owned by non-Jews. Martial law ended for Palestinians in Israel in 1966 and they were granted citizenship.

    However, Israel has no constitution guaranteeing basic rights for all. Instead, it put in place a series of laws that disenfranchises non-Jews and discriminate against them in many aspects of life, including family reunification, land ownership, the right of return, and municipal and educational subsidies.

    The situation for Palestinians of East Jerusalem, the West bank and Gaza is unbelievably worse. They have been under military law for the last 46 years.

    Marina Gutierrez

    Kensington

    A different view of capitalism

    For years, I have written letters to the newspapers and other media on the roles and relative value of competition and cooperation.

    The following is a different angle of looking at it. Those who promote and practice free market capitalism often speak, though in a vague manner, of the great benefits that accrue to society through the business sector competing in all of its relationships for the sake of higher profits and greater market share.

    I believe, however, that this great love and respect for competition is superficial and not basic to what is really at the root of what is truly being sought. I believe the truth is that they want to win -- to succeed. The competitive arenas they seek to maintain, often at the expense of cooperation, afford the opportunities to win but do not guarantee it.

    Not succeeding, I believe, can dampen the respect one holds for the rules and ethics of the competitive arena. Our culture, for the time being, remains dominated by the capitalist paradigm.

    When practitioners are threatened with losing, or simply crave greater success, their business practices can transform into cutthroat, crony, vulture, or some other form of corrupted capitalism.

    This transformed version allows for lesser degrees of honesty, humility, generosity, reverence, and valuing of what is truly important. The results often include misery, destruction, cruelty, and enmity.

    Ron Greenstein

    El Cerrito

    We must care for homeless

    Thank you for the article, "Council approves clearing the Bulb."

    The elephant-in-the-room question for the righteous powers that be is, "Where do these people -- all 70 of them -- go once they are evicted?"

    These precious human beings have no place to lie down at night if those with nice homes decide it doesn't matter where they go. They have a home and safety and don't care if poor people don't.

    I overheard a homeless man ask a police officer where he could legally lie down at night? The policeman said he didn't know where, but the homeless man was trespassing and needed to move on. The poor man looked tired. Where would he go?

    Eleanor Newman

    Concord