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Mailbag: Put humanity back into our capitalism

April 26, 2013

This letter is a response to "It's A Gray Area: Minimum Wages cause more harm than good," (April 19) by James P. Gray in the Daily Pilot.

The issue here is rather simple. It is not a matter for economics or market forces, but one related to who we are as a nation. Is human labor a mere tradable commodity to be manipulated and used for the benefit of the economy, or should our economy be structured for the benefit of human labor, our citizens?

Who should benefit from increased productivity — labor, capital or both? If the productivity gains from 1960 onward were to be shared by labor, the minimum wage today would be $22 an hour and not a mere $7.25. Over this time frame, capital has hogged all the productivity gains.

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This did not happen because of market forces, as some would have us believe. It happened through deliberate public policy driven by our totally corrupt form of democracy — through deal making between those with money and those in power, through legalized bribery and through the revolving door of politicians and their staffs turning into well-paid lobbyists. And both parties, Republicans and Democrats, share the blame.

The enlightened capitalism of Henry Ford, giving workers a living wage, gave us a prosperous middle class and a clear vision for achieving the American Dream. Today's vulture capitalism, and the obscene notion that "corporations are people," has put the dwindling middle class in a downward vortex toward poverty.

This is a shameful chapter in our history. This too shall pass, but the struggle is just beginning.

Jamshed H. Dastur

Newport Beach

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Older Americans Month coming up

May is Older Americans Month, which is a national observance to honor the values and traditions that elders contribute in our community.

This year's theme is "Unleash The Power of Age!" proving that even beyond retirement, seniors have a critical role in reaching the next generation and impacting the lives around them.

Yet this role can be severely diminished for seniors who fail to plan far enough ahead and utilize the legal protections available to help them stay independent and enjoy vibrant lives during their golden years.

Simple documents such as powers of attorney, health care directives and living trusts can help seniors spell out their wishes now, so they don't have to fear losing control tomorrow.

Planning ahead also helps seniors secure the benefits, support and resources they need, so they never feel "stuck" receiving care they are unhappy with or at a facility that does not offer the opportunities or amenities they desire.

When the goal for seniors is to live life to the fullest and have a significant impact on their family and the community around them, having plans in place to protect their independence and their personal say during all of life's transitions cannot be underestimated.

Solid legal planning is the capstone for unleashing the power of age. Use this month to ask a senior what legal documents they have in place. Doing so will offer them greater opportunities to stay involved in the community and contribute in a meaningful way.

Darlynn Morgan

Newport Beach

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