Types of most people you might meet: The stoned: No ambition. Only concerned with their own dependencies and where and how the next fix is coming from. The stupid: Victims of biological and hereditary circumstance. The ignorant (the herd): Not necessarily stupid, but a product of their boring, dull, bourgeois environment (i.e., sports fans, parents, teachers, spouses, bosses, etc.) Most folks fall into this majority group, unfortunately. The elites: Although educated, always slightly pretentious and self-absorbed. Totally annoying and usually unpleasant to be around. (i.e., clergy, media editors, artists, politicians, lawyers, doctors, etc.) Usually the minority group, thank goodness. Hipsters: The ones who are supposed to impress us, but usually their presence is a mere invention based on a modern myth (or TV show). The good ones: Very rare and “too few and far between.” You might think you know when you meet one — maybe once in your life, if you’re lucky. They usually go by the name of “Godot.”
Local, regional and national budgets being formulated in Washington, Hartford and various towns throughout the nation are beginning to address minimum-wage considerations that affect large segments of retailing, the commercial food industry and a variety of service industries. Recent demonstrations impacting some of the nation’s big-box retailers and a few, international food franchises also showcased income disparities that have consigned millions to continued dependence on government assistance services. A small number of corporations recently launched research efforts to study making “living-wage salaries” part of their corporate credo. In recent years, the rapidly changing face of American economics has prevented millions of low-income citizens from achieving economic self-sufficiency.
The current minimum-wage debate only offers short-term solutions for long-term, economic policy questions. Hundreds of studies indicate minimum-wage increases always produce higher consumer prices and a loss of entry-level jobs. Education has always been one of the passkeys of economic success. Financial equality cannot be achieved by mandating full-time wages for part-time or entry-level positions. Policies must be adopted that perpetuate capitalism’s battle-tested virtues. Perhaps, a minimum-wage that qualifies as a “minimum living wage” for full-time employees might be a logical, first step in formulating policies that protect and advance economic opportunity for all Americans. America must remain the land of opportunity, not become the fortress of financial entitlement. (The writer is CEO/President of New Opportunities Inc.)
James H. Gatling, Waterbury
Parking and pedestrians
In my opinion, the R-J story on Sunday, March 30 (“Is anyone using the Wooding-Caplan lot?”) strongly implies the lot is very under-used. This is not the case, especially in the evening hours. I am a frequent visitor to the uptown area during the evening 6 pm and later, and often the lot is three-quarters full. The uptown area is very busy in the evening with many restaurants, Zumba, and other civic groups holding meetings. Parking has always been very hard to find and the expansion of the lot has helped the situation. The uptown area has grown and thrived and in the evening it has become a “happening place,” in spite of the lack of investment by the town in making the area a convenient and attractive area for visitors. The Wooding-Caplan (and adjacent lot) is in desperate need of a sprucing up, real pavement, lighting, islands, and walkways.
The alleyway between the local business and St .Paul’s is especially dangerous. Visitors use the alleyway to walk from the lot to North Main Street and Simpson Court establishments. Cars are also coming in and out of the narrow alley and visibility at the intersection with North Main Street is very limited. This alleyway should be closed to cars and turned into a pedestrian walkway. Uptown is doing well, but just imagine how well it would be doing if the town was actually to help the local businesses make the area attractive, convenient and safe for visitors.
Dave Ellis, Wallingford
A mortal blow
Hockey is the closest thing to a state religion in Russia, so when the men’s team was eliminated from competition at the Olympics without winning a medal, it dealt a mortal blow to poor Vladimir Putin’s fragile male ego. He felt he had to assert his manhood somehow, so he sent his troops to the Crimean region of Ukraine. Perhaps we should have let the little fellows win at least a bronze medal, then the world wouldn’t be in this inconvenient mess.
Joseph Zaborowski, Meriden
It’s time to respect low wage workers. I thank Connecticut House and Senate Democrats and Governor Malloy for passing an increase in the minimum wage. Unfortunately, not one Republican legislator showed the same respect.
The days of big companies paying living wages and providing benefits are over. Too many corporations make big profits on the backs of their workers by paying poverty wages and little or no benefits. A big-box chain store made $17 billion in profits last year, but pays its employees wages so low they qualify for food stamps. Without government assistance, their employees can’t afford the food they sell. Many also are denied health benefits and sign up for government care. In a way, this employer gets the workers and we subsidize this business.
It’s time for big companies, making big profits while paying poverty wages, to change their ways. Respect your employees and pay them a living wage. For companies that don’t, we should insist they reimburse us for the subsidy we have provided to their employees. Let’s be fair and treat our working families with dignity and respect.
Carolyn Datchuck, Meriden
A report on the high cost of low wages shows that more than 225,000 Connecticut workers are paid the minimum wage. The majority are over 20 and working more than 20 hours a week. Many of those you meet in retail make minimum wage. Large companies are making huge profits while treating their employees poorly. These wages keep these families below the poverty level. Someone earning the current minimum wage of $8.70 makes $18,000 a year — that’s if they can get 40 hours. Many stores schedule less hours, and people often hold a couple different jobs to make ends meet (of course, without benefits). How does a person afford the bare necessities: rent, (local examples: $650 to $995 per month, or $7,800 to $11,940 a year), transportation (car, gas, insurance, repairs), heat, electricity, food, clothing, diapers and medical needs?
I’m glad our Democrat State Reps., Senators and Governor Malloy raised the minimum wage annually to reach $10.10 in a few years. They respect our working neighbors.
Unfortunately, our local Republican state officials do not. Not one Republican voted yes. Honest pay for honest work. It used to be the American way.
Michael Cardona, Meriden
‘Pump you own!’
Imagine this scene from years ago: My friends and I were out one day. We stopped for gas along the way. As we pulled in, and four guys jumped out. In another place I would pull a gun. In some places carjacking is just for fun. But then Guy 1 asked what I needed. I told him a fill-up. He instructed a guy to start the pump. He asked me to pop the hood and a guy was there to check the oil and fill the windshield washer. Someone started washing my windows, another was dusting road grit and another was checking tire pressure. I paid the man and, on this busy street, two guys jumped out, stopped traffic to let me out.
This is not Connecticut today. No one would pay $10.10 for anyone to pump gas. That leaves your 85-year-old grandmother to pump her own. That leaves your teenager on a street corner planning a robbery. I worked, my wife worked, my children worked when they were young. Connecticut would rather see your child in jail before providing those opportunities to better themselves.
Robert W. Karlon, Wallingford
Regarding the Wallingford Public Library: Not only does it have all the resources for research, education and entertainment, but the best part is its staff. They’re always professional and respectful — but, most of all, the staff is always very nice while being very helpful.
Thank you, Wallingford library!
Michael Bendel, Wallingford
Wallingford is sitting on a reserve fund of $24 million, which is well over the amount needed to maintain a triple-A bond rating. To keep a triple-A rating, most towns keep 8-10 percent of their budget in reserve. Our bordering town, Cheshire, keeps $9 million in reserve and has a triple-A rating. If we were to keep $15.5 million in reserve, we would still maintain our triple-A rating, and we could fund our education budget without cutting teachers or programs. This could also lower all our taxes.
What bothers me the most about these so-called budget talks is the way we are planning to make cuts to live up to the mayor’s budget. We talk about eliminating the pre-K program from the Board of Ed budget. We talk about increasing class sizes, we talk about removing teachers from the board’s budget. We never talk about cutting back on the one area that has the least effect on our children — and that is cutting administrators. Our enrollments are going down, but we keep adding people at the top of the chain that are never in front of the children that we are supposed to be educating.
It is time we started looking at the real purpose of education (which is to make our children the best and brightest). We have already ruled out all-day kindergarten (which is being offered in 120 other towns in Connecticut). The most important years of a child’s life are the early childhood education years — ages pre-K through third grade — and we should be looking at this, not a reserve fund that is over-inflated, to make our leaders feel good.
Bill Fritz, Yalesville
Perhaps public opinion will agree with me that Wallingford’s public school system should cover the cost for volunteers having their fingers printed and their backgrounds checked for criminality — requirements of state law.
At the moment, that is not the case, and volunteers have to pay. That is, if they submit to the requirement, which I have not because I refuse to participate in an upside-down policy presented to me in a memo to volunteers from an assistant superintendent.
Because I am a fixed-income senior who knows that I have an important role to perform as a teacher’s adjunct, and because my background is clean of criminality per checks performed within the past decade when I volunteered for six years in Meriden’s Senior Buddy Reader Program, and by my good word continues to be clean, I persist in volunteering in a 5th-grade class at Parker Farms School while tilting against the school system’s cheapness.
When it agrees in writing to pay for background checks and fingerprinting, I will complete paperwork to initiate those processes. How can the system support football wherein still-growing boys might suffer brain trauma and broken limbs yet cannot adequately support the free services of volunteers? If the budget is so tight that — as a Board of Education member told me — payment of background checks is impossible, then transfer funds from the football budget to support volunteers who freely provide valued reinforcement to hard tasks performed by teachers.
Perhaps public opinion would not support the conflation of “volunteer” with “applicant for a position.” The system’s policy statement requiring background checks does not include “volunteer,” however, it has become synonymous with “applicant for a position,” which is in the statement. Verbal chicanery at its best.