Riches by fiat

To the editor: On Jan. 1, Vermonts minimum wage increases by 5 percent. One wonders what this does for the employment numbers. As the Free Press says, That means the lowest paid Vermonters will see their pay go from $7.68 an hour to $8.06. In order to afford this, grocers and convenience store owners are hiking prices by 10-15 percent to offset the wage and withholding hikes. One immediate consequence is the minimum wage workers cant buy the groceries they bag or the gas they ring up. The incoming legislature promised to repair this quickly by fiat, rolling back prices and initiating job protection. Guaranteed employment is Job One in Vermont! Another adjustment is forthcoming to service workers (tipped employees) income. The taxes on tips are never fully collected; underreporting is rampant. According to the legislature, theyre correcting this by raising service workers wages to $15.50 an hour and banning tipping. Now the state will fully collect the taxes due for earnings. The price of a meal will go up; remember though, you wont have that onerous tip for mediocre service. As for the restaurateur, hes a capitalist and gouging you anyway. Besides, hes hiring illegals and paying them off the books; he pockets the money and is getting rich. Ed Mann, Waltham

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