It's not hard: a living wage | Sept. 1, Robyn Blumner column
Raising wage would help millions
A living wage is an obvious answer to income inequality. Seventy-one percent of people polled by Pew Research in February 2013 favor an increase in minimum wage.
Recently, Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., introduced the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013. The proposal would raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour by 2015. It includes adjustments starting in 2016 to keep pace with the rising cost of living and an increase for tipped workers, who have earned the same wage for 20 years.
With the legislation, 30 million working Americans and their families would be able to make a decent living. According to census data by the Economic Policy Institute, 88 percent of the current minimum wage workers are adults over the age of 20 and more than 40 percent have some college education. Additionally, the minimum wage helps set the pay scale for the numerous Americans who are spending careers in low-wage jobs as a result of the recession.
Why is it a great challenge to improve income equality through a minimum wage increase? If the argument is job loss, this is more myth than fact. Following the federal minimum wage increase in 1996-97, one of the strongest periods of job growth in decades occurred.
If it is the belief that employers may go out of business, the vast majority of the largest low-wage employers in the country are earning strong profits. A 2012 report by the National Employment Law Project found that two-thirds of all low-wage workers are employed by large companies, not small businesses.
Workers must speak up and request that their legislators support the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013.
Barbara Drake, Tampa
It's not hard: a living wage Sept. 1, Robyn Blumner column
American Dream thwarted
Thank you, Robyn Blumner, for once again shining a light on the need to pay all workers a living wage. Failure to effectively address this issue over the past 30 years has led to the increasing income disparity between executives and workers that she mentions.
All workers should have the right to earn enough money to support themselves. The current minimum wage, even at a full 40 hours a week, leaves a family of four below poverty level. How does this fulfill the American Dream?
What can we do to force our representatives in Washington to see this basic need and do something about it?
Kitty Rawson, St. Petersburg
Senate panel passes resolution on Syria Sept. 5
Authorize the attack
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee gave President Barack Obama bipartisan authorization on Wednesday for a limited military attack on Syria to punish the Bashar Assad regime for using chemical weapons. The House and the Senate need to grant the president the authorization to attack Syria for three reasons:
1. A military strike prevents Assad from destabilizing the region by using chemical weapons against Syria's neighboring countries. Assad has made numerous threats against Israel to boost his image as a strong Syrian national leader. Incapacitating Assad's ability to use chemical weapons is the best way to ensure he will not carry out his threats.
2. The United States, as well as the international community, set the use of chemical weapons as a red line that should not be crossed. A military strike asserts the U.S. position as the leader of the international community.
3. A military strike against Assad will send a strong message to rogue states, such as Iran and North Korea, that using banned weapons, which contributes to instability, will not be tolerated by the international community.
It is understandable, after more than a decade of war in Afghanistan and Iraq, that many Americans are war-weary. However, lack of action against Assad will create an unstable international environment that is sure to drag the United States into endless conflicts. Obama's plan for a limited yet forceful military intervention will be the best option to prevent the creation of such an unstable environment.
Samar Hennawi, Brooksville
Arab states silent
In addition to the lack of support from our major allies and the U.S. public, it is amazing that the most obvious countries who should be seeking the protection of the Syrian people — large, Arab Middle Eastern countries such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, etc. — have been noticeably silent. If the Syrian regime's chemical weapons attacks on its people are so horrendous, why isn't the entire world, led by the Arabs, rushing to denounce it, supporting the United States and, most importantly, using their own militaries to attack Syria? Why must the United States always act alone and unilaterally on behalf of oppressed foreign populations?
It has yet to be proven and reported beyond doubt that the civilian deaths in Syria, as tragic as they are, represent a direct, current and future threat to the United States. And, if the U.S. intervention results in a rebel seizure of the Syrian government, can we be guaranteed those same rebels will not be controlled by terrorist elements, such as al-Qaida, who will seek to directly attack U.S. citizens and interests as has happened in Iraq and Afghanistan?
Congress should reject another questionable military entanglement in the Middle East.
James Craten, Riverview
Morning ride turns deadly | Sept. 4
I am always saddened when I read of an injured or killed bicyclist. There are far too many accidents of this type in the Tampa Bay area.
The counties and cities have done an admirable job of creating bike paths and riding lanes throughout the area. Unfortunately, roads, intersections and traffic lanes have dangerous sections where bikes and cars must coexist in close quarters.
Growing up in Philadelphia some years ago, it was commonplace for cyclists to ride opposite the traffic flow where possible. This practice has by now probably changed, but I can't remember many accidents involving bikes and cars back then.
The greatest problem I see with the present bike path designs is that there are no buffer zones between bike paths and traffic lanes. I realize that creating such zones is sadly not feasible given the present designs and conditions.
I too have a bike that I occasionally use, but having had some close calls myself, I do not ride on roads directly anymore. I usually put the bike in my car and drive to places such as parks where I can peddle with a greater sense of safety.
Edward Pettit, St. Petersburg