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Presently the most basic and immoral law of economics in too much of America is unmitigated greed. What irritates most about Chapman’s position is that he’s actually saying such greed is immutable — to be expected and, therefore, accepted. After all, he claims that if the minimum wage rises, the price of goods will inevitably rise or owners will either outsource or automate. In other words, good business means low wages one way or another: no thoughts about how machines will replace consumers or about companies such as Costco, the antithesis of the Wal-Marts and McDonalds.
If Chapman is right, we are destined to be a Third World economy where workers will have to be satisfied with slave wages and the market for goods will become even more depressed than it presently is. Already one family owning Wal-Mart earns more in a year than more than 30 percent of all of our workers. Is this really the so-called paradigm or future model of American capitalism?
GREG VAN HEE, Perham, Minn.
Don’t assume anyone’s choices are poor
Robert Reich (“Define ‘charity’,” Dec. 18) proposes a hierarchy of giving: If one donates to Mixed Blood Theatre or Carleton College, that is somehow less worthy than donating to Open Arms or the Minnesota Food Shelf. The problem is that he doesn’t actually make a case for this. He assumes that people who give money to, say, a symphony orchestra or a theater are doing so in order to hobnob with their friends. He assumes this because he also assumes that there is no actual worth in pursuing or attending the arts. These are both mighty big assumptions to make. Donors could just as easily be giving because they feel that exposure to good music will make a difference in people’s lives. They could even be giving so that children and adults from low-income households can get free tickets.
Likewise, a person doesn’t necessarily give money to a university because they want their children to be educated there; most of the time, their children are grown by the time the money is donated. Granted, the wealthy may want their names on a building or an endowed chair. However, a donor usually has a specific interest in the area she or he donates to, whether it be cancer research, liberal arts or the business school.
Our household donations are a small part of the country’s total charitable donations, but they amount to about 5 percent of our income, split pretty evenly between arts organizations and social causes — food, shelter, fighting diseases, etc. My wife and I are proud of our record of giving, and how dare Reich tell us or anyone else who is unselfish enough to give away $10 or $100,000 that our gifts don’t count if they don’t go to the right places?
DANIEL PINKERTON, Minneapolis
The Opinion section is produced by the Editorial Department to foster discussion about key issues. The Editorial Board represents the institutional voice of the Star Tribune and operates independently of the newsroom.