Up with wages

In response to the Trump administration’s tax overhaul, Wells Fargo and Fifth Third Bancorp will raise their minimum wages to $15 per hour. AT&T and Comcast also pledged to pay a $1,000 bonus to each of their U.S. employees. It’s a good example of how lawmakers can incentivize higher wages instead of universally mandating them.

This year, we saw an opposing example in Seattle. A team of city-funded economists at the University of Washington found that Seattle’s $15 minimum wage mandate had caused employee pay to decrease. That’s because the mandated increase in hourly pay was offset by a drop in work hours when businesses with razor-thin profit margins couldn’t offset the labor-cost increase with higher prices.

When employers have the freedom to manage their businesses, less-skilled workers benefit. But forcing employers to pay higher wages costs employees their jobs.

Michael Saltsman, managing director, Employment Policies Institute

Voting by mail

If property owners have not noticed their taxes have gone up, they will shortly. Businesses increase their prices when their taxes go up, so in a sense we pay their taxes too.

It seems our politicians are well versed on taxes. On the other hand, most state and local governmental workers are not paid enough. Not many college students are planning to teach due to the low salaries. Our state and local police have very dangerous jobs dealing with robbers, thieves, murderers, etc., yet they are not paid very well. What can we do to find ways to come up with more money to increase the salaries and keep good trained workers? If working people make more money, they subsequently will spend more. They sure won’t hide it in offshore banks to avoid paying taxes as the wealthy, who have whatever they want. Our businesses will thrive and hire more and we will have much less spending on welfare.

One way to more smartly spend tax money in our state involves voting. Texas spends tens of millions on our voting system. Counties spend hundreds of thousands or more just in buying voting machines. We have to hire and train poll workers locally, which costs many more dollars and requires the learning of meticulous rules. Let’s all get together and force the state to do what many states are doing by demanding we vote by mail. We already have it for those over age 65, handicapped, military, etc., so why not have it for all and use the money saved to pay workers better salaries which will help our people? If you don’t want to do that, the politicians will come up with a billion ideas to spend it. Why can’t Texas voters do what many other states do, which allows them to sit at their kitchen tables and vote at their convenience and not have to rush from work and stand in long lines on the only days they can vote? If they vote by mail, they have up to 15 days. Think about it and let’s get it done.

Jim Denton, Gatesville