January 12, 2014 Updated: January 12, 2014 at 9:35 am
Get rid of the federal minimum wage
This letter is in response to the Jan. 9 editorial about the minimum wage, and the article about Blockbuster's last store closing.
The question that is never answered is why do we need a federal minimum wage at all? Why can't each state (or even city) set a minimum wage that matches the state economy? Many states (Colorado included) and cities (think living wage in New York City or San Francisco) already set a higher minimum wage. It seems silly for Washington, D.C., politicians to argue about a federal minimum wage. They can't seem to do anything useful toward balancing the federal budget. Why distract them with an issue that can be handled locally?
I have teenage children who say they want to work, but aren't qualified for many local, minimum wage jobs. There are plenty of people who would benefit from a "training wage" (starting at a lower salary until job skills are up to par), or a low-stress, lower-paying job. My teenagers need to learn how to work and to appreciate how blessed they are - they don't need to pay the mortgage or even earn a "living wage."
I still remember a young man I met at a Blockbuster store seven years ago when my daughter was selling Girl Scout cookies. We were inside a Blockbuster store for four hours, and very few customers patronized the store (we sold about five boxes of Girl Scout cookies!) We struck up a conversation with the young man who worked there. He told us how much he loved his job because he could study when there were no customers, and he got free movie and game "rentals." He told me that he was working his way through college and his job was perfect - even though his job paid $5 per hour. Now that Blockbuster has closed, where are the local students going to find such flexible employment?
Where is the freedom for a person to take a low-paying job that meets his or her personal needs? There are people who would enjoy a part-time job (baby sitting for a sleeping child, weekday work while children are in school, etc.). Shouldn't we encourage employers to offer work to people who don't have job skills to merit $8-$10 per hour (ex-convicts, recovering drug addicts, people who don't have reliable transportation, people with zero experience)? Shouldn't we encourage employers who don't have enough sales revenue/customers to offer employees benefits like inexpensive merchandise, stock options, or flexible schedules in exchange for a lower hourly wage?
Each state is equipped to figure out a fair, living wage, and protect workers from exploitation. Let's get rid of the federal minimum wage, and all the political debate about the federal minimum wage.
Voter fraud not worth the risk
Re: "The Gazette's Viewpoint," Jan. 3: Jon Caldara hired an attorney, rented a room from a friendly assistant district attorney and pretended to vote. He claimed his "intent" to move was enough to make it all legal. He also made a show of not marking the ballot, obviously trying to mitigate the likelihood of a jury convicting him of fraud even if they believed he had cast an illegal ballot. (Ironically, showing one's ballot to anyone to reveal its contents is a misdemeanor violation of the law (C.R.S. 1-13-712). Caldara did so, on camera. Why did the AG's office not address that violation?)
The "present intention" language and rules for "sole legal place of residence" for voting purposes have been in statute for decades. The new election law did not create this opening for Caldara's action - it just changed the deadline. Caldara could have pulled his stunt in any previous election. He just would have had to "move" and register a little earlier and maintain his charade a little longer before retreating back to Boulder - as he intended.
No one other than Caldara would take these multiple steps to "vote" in this way. As Luis Toro of Colorado Ethics Watch has observed, "Caldara only proved that without elaborate 'choreographed actions' and top-notch legal representation, someone who shows up on Election Day and falsely claims residence in a given district will be charged and convicted."
One reason actual voter fraud is quite rare is because the reward of a single vote is not worth the effort and the risk. The Gazette's claimed fear of such fraud is nonsense. The reality is the new election law gives more access to the ballot for voters, makes it less expensive for counties and is more secure than the old law.