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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: ‘War on Poverty’ still just a war on business

- - Thursday, May 8, 2014

The same percentage of people live in poverty now as lived in it 50 years ago, when President Lyndon Johnson declared his "War on Poverty."

At that time, adjusted to 2013 dollars, the minimum wage was $9.39 and peaked at $10.71 (in 2013 dollars) four years later. From 1964 until today, we have experienced 14 minimum-wage increases — and none has moved the needle on America's poverty rate ("Sen. Chuck Schumer: $10.10 is non-negotiable," Web, May 5).

While pushing for wage-rate increases might score fleeting points for a political party, it makes no sense to the private sector, which bankrolls the state and federal governments pushing for such increases. Most people know minimum wage is not meant to pull people up from poverty or support families of four.

Businesses understand increasing the minimum wage puts upward pressure on the entire wage scale, which in itself is not the greatest problem. They know the real consequences of those elevated costs limit employment opportunities, customers' purchasing power and overall economic expansion.

Unlike the government, businesses do not have the ability to demand higher fees or prices, force customers to buy their goods or confiscate property to cover their expenses. That is why the Congressional Budget Office predicted and reaffirmed that 500,000 jobs would likely be lost with this proposed wage hike.

I don't blame Mr. Schumer for pushing the wage increase, regardless of the predictably negative impact it will have on everyone, particularly those below or near the poverty line. Mr. Schumer entered politics in 1975 right after graduating law school and has only ever been a politician since.

Like many others, he knows and cares far more about getting re-elected than he does about macro- or microeconomics. I blame the people who reflexively vote party over country and for a politician's survival over their own.

RINGO LANZETTI

Falls Church