Readers Write (March 3): Minimum wage, health care costs, birth control and walleye

  • Updated: March 2, 2013 - 4:27 PM

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Readers want real data to inform their views

Before they write another commentary arguing for a minimum-wage hike, Aaron Sojourner and Michael Reich should make sure they don’t base their argument on a disproven study (“Is a raise in order for Minnesotans?” Feb. 24).

The 1994 study they cite, by David Card and Alan Krueger, was subsequently disproved by economists David Neumark and William Wascher. After correcting for substantial errors in the data set used by Card and Krueger, they found a 3.9 to 4 percent decrease in employment following a wage hike — rather than the gains noted by Card and Krueger. As a result, Card and Krueger revised their original claims about minimum-wage increases boosting employment.

The debate in Minnesota over a minimum-wage hike should be based on facts, not misinformation. There’s a reason why 85 percent of the most credible research points to a loss of job opportunities following a minimum wage hike.

Michael Saltsman, Washington, D.C.

The writer is research director for the Employment Policies Institute.

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The headline highlights perfectly my dissatisfaction with the modern media giving equal weight to unequal evidence. Adhering to the principle of false equivalency, a writer and Republican activist who simply doesn’t like the idea of minimum-wage increases is given equal weight to two economists with hard data whose job it is to use evidence to study the economy. You know someone’s opinion is not backed up by facts when they make sweeping absolutist statements like “raising the minimum wage always negatively affects employment opportunity and reduces production,” as the Republican activist did. Not all opinions are equal. Even high school debaters know that you can’t win an argument without proven evidence from peer-reviewed sources. When the Star Tribune gives equal footing to unequally researched and unequally credentialed writers, it is doing a disservice in helping the public make informed decisions.

Betsy Faber, West St. Paul



We need a national solution for rising costs

David Goldhill’s commentary “Health care costs you more than you know” (Feb. 24) does a useful service by pointing out how much of our income goes to one industry. His prescription, however, is misguided.

Why should employers shoulder any of this burden in the first place? We compete with countries that offer their people comprehensive, affordable health care without requiring employers to negotiate and administer complex benefit contracts. A proven national solution, such as Medicare, could be applied to all of us with significant savings.

Goldhill, however, believes that programs such as Medicare fail to control costs because “providers turn to lobbyists to keep prices up.”

Here, he has it exactly backwards. Medicare has been much more successful than the private sector at containing the growth of health care prices. Those lobbyists who Goldhill rightly fears are dedicated to improving the bottom line of their private-sector insurers and hospitals.

Finally, Goldhill’s solution, catastrophic-only insurance, would turn us all into amateur diagnosticians, with obviously disastrous results. Experiments with “consumer-driven” health care show that people do indeed seek less care, bringing down costs of care utilization. The problem is that needed care as well as the marginally useful is avoided, thus bringing into question why we have a health care system in the first place.

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