Vail Daily letter: The new reality |

Vail Daily letter: The new reality

Kudos to the Daily for printing the “polit-toon” of the Obama team’s success in avoiding war with Syria. The Mazzuca column beside it was a disappointment, however. It should have been titled “The true beauty of imaginary capitalism.” While I agree with some of the concepts Butch writes about, they are just that — concepts. Capitalism has indeed morphed into greed on an unparalleled scale, with CEOs knocking down compensation that’s over 100 times higher than just 30 years ago. The grossly high CEO compensation packages are also paid to senior managers and board members while many of these corporations are unsuccessfully managing huge debt burdens, to the detriment of their stock values. The stock packages of senior management are on such a massive scale that ordinary public investors are at the mercy of untimely sales by those executives. The stock market is now a place for retirement funds to languish or diminish while the money managers still make money. Is this the capitalism Butch writes so glowingly about?

As owner of a successful construction company in the Vail Valley for the last 33 years, I know quite a bit about the “personal responsibility” Butch speaks of. My success came in spite of paying my employees more than my competitors, and paying my bills and taxes faster than anyone else. I don’t have a million bucks but I have raised two families, four grown children, taken four weeks off every year, coached and cheered my kids in all their activities, enjoyed the very best of what Colorado has to offer, and lent a helping hand to those in need. Unlike the retirees voting down a $150 per average household tax increase here in Eagle County, I support public education although my kids are done and gone. Education is the most important part of continued American “exceptionalism.”

It is beyond my comprehension to understand how anyone in their right mind can honestly believe the right wing propaganda machine’s insistence that raising the minimum wage would hurt employment when all evidence is to the contrary. This false belief is nothing more than recycled garbage from the days of mining barons, whose miners were forced to risk lives for wages that were less than what the mining companies charged them for room and board. The ensuing labor movement for a living wage was entirely responsible for creating the “most dynamic and most productive middle class the world has ever known” — not capitalism.

My eldest son was hired immediately after graduating from college and has a bedroom in one of the least expensive apartments his roomies could find. Fifty percent of his take-home pay goes to rent and utilities, and he doesn’t own a car. If he only earned the proposed $15 minimum wage, he would have no money left over for food or anything else. This is the new reality, Butch, and it is poverty growing on a massive scale. It is different from when you and I made two bucks an hour, paid $75 per month in rent, paid for car expenses, and bought 25-cent beers at a local bar. Capitalism has gone rogue in the last 30 years and the results aren’t pretty. It’s not just here in the U.S. — Europe has had the same problems for a long time and Canadian executive over-compensation is also on a par with U.S. corporations. It is way beyond time to raise the minimum wage.

Sam Sterling

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