Luster Returns to Golden State

To add to your Page 1 story on the Golden State's revitalized economy - "California as a 21st-Century Economy" (Aug. 29) - this year California will become the first state to generate $1 trillion in total economic output.

By the end of 1997, California's gross state product (GSP) will surpass $1 trillion, according to the University of California at Los Angeles-Anderson Business Forecast. The state's claim as the world's eighth largest economy rests on the fact that only seven nations have attained this trillion-dollar level: the United States, Japan, China, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, and Italy. US gross domestic product, now approaching $8 trillion, did not reach this milestone until the early 1970s (measured in current dollars).

Although Gov. Pete Wilson touted the record-setting GSP last January, many economists have chosen to defer celebration until 1999 or 2000, when personal income, a narrower measure of aggregate economic activity, is forecast to pass the trillion-dollar benchmark.

Its luster restored, the Golden State enjoys an enviable position at the dawn of the 21st century.

Jason A. Bezis

Livermore, Calif.

Power to earn more on their own

Mandated wage-hike advocates seem to believe there is a class of workers who are unable to earn wage increases, and who must rely on the government to mandate increases to get ahead ("Working Class Gets First Raise in Years," Aug. 6). This paternalistic view of working Americans is simply not true.

According to analysis of US Census Bureau data (1992-94), full-time minimum wage employees earned an "average" wage increase of 30 percent in just 12 months. This reality makes the think-tank economist's assertion that "a man who made $7.20 a year ago is now making $7.27" all the more misleading, and, frankly, irrelevant.

While proponents of minimum-wage increases may argue that entry-level employees depend on government mandates to better their lot, anyone who has ever moved up from a minimum-wage job knows that is false. The minimum wage is a stepping stone to higher wages: Those who begin work at that "starting wage" and develop basic skills quickly move on to earn more.

Craig S. Miller

West Roxbury, Mass.

President & chief executive officer

Uno Restaurant Corporation

Broken rule offends grammatical bent

I'm sure staff writer Daniel Wood was as surprised as I to see the egregious grammatical error in the Page 1 headline of his article, "Public-Private Split on Who to Hire," (Sept. 5). I have faithfully read the Monitor for 40 years and treat it as the world's most in-depth, literary newspaper. I realize your writers don't compose their own headlines.

Dorothy Urban Wright

Fayetteville, N.Y.

Editor's Note: We were waiting for your calls. We broke the who/whom rule after deciding, in this instance, that the grammatically proper case (whom) fell more fussily on the eye and ear than the common, idiomatic useage (who). Next time we may avoid the problem with another phrase altogether.

The article, about corporate America embracing diversity, seems to have a blind spot when discussing affirmative action solely in terms of "the right thing to do."

Businesses tend to be color-blind in their hiring because their bottom line is best served by having hard-working, dependable people, regardless of sex or ethnic background.

George P. Nye

Wareham, Mass.

Tobacco growers responsible, too

I read with interest "Farmers Face Fork in Tobacco Road" (Sept. 4), on tobacco farmers and their desire to receive funds from the proposed $368 billion national tobacco deal with cigarette makers.

I'm sorry, but I don't understand why the growers are not as culpable as the cigarette makers. If Hudson is responsible for its beef, is not a tobacco grower responsible for its leaf?

Mark Finley

Luling, Texas

Your letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published and none acknowledged. Mailed to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, fax to 617-450-2317, or e-mail to oped@csps.com

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