Should markets or lawmakers set minimum wage?

Regarding "'Living wage' laws gain momentum across US" (March 15): It's the natural forces of supply and demand that are at work in respect to how much money employees should be paid. When employers start having to pay workers a legislated higher wage, where will that money come from?

It can come from only three places: retained earnings (money retained by a business to finance growth and carry it over hard times), the drawing of the owners' money (which will make owners acknowledge they have treated their employees unfairly by keeping too big a share of the profits for themselves), and finally, price increases. Now where do you think it's going to come from?

Raising prices is the only thing business owners can do long term. This tide will raise all boats and pretty soon those on the edge of poverty at $17,000 annual income will be on the edge of poverty at $24,000.
Todd Marshall
Spring, Texas

As an economic and social conservative, I thought I'd never support minimum-wage increases, but now I find it necessary.

Big business has managed to keep a vast pool of cheap labor by getting favorable immigration policies enacted and managing to avoid the consequences of hiring illegal immigrants. All of these actions keep labor rates down. The time has come to support livable wages.
Robert Don

Light of forgiveness in the Mideast dark

Regarding "A widower offers forgiveness in a land of vengeance" (March 13): I'm humbled by Ismail Hawaja's forgiveness of the Israeli soldiers who caused his wife's tragic death. In a conflict in which some Israelis and Palestinians seem to compete to outdo one another's brutalities, it's reassuring to know of one who has suffered countless deprivations yet is still able to forgive.
Andrew de Treville
Grand Isle, Vt.

Like the first flickers of a candle lighting a room, the story of this Palestinian man's principled rejection of revenge against his Israeli neighbors gave me a new view of a situation that has left me feeling such despair and hopelessness of late. If there is one person like Mr. Hawaja who realizes the futility of the endless cycle of revenge, there must be others, both Palestinian and Israeli. I commend the Monitor for finding and publishing this glimmer in the darkness.
Alan Willis
Portland, Ore.

Keeping woman-man friendships

Regarding "Can we just be friends?" (March 9, Homefront): As a woman of 52 years, I answer, "Yes!" to the question of the possibility of women and men having lasting friendships. I have been blessed with a number of these friendships over the years. These are "friends of the heart" which hold the seasons of my teen and young-adult years.

We have acted as sounding boards for each other, cheered personal triumphs, and shared innumerable joys. We have weathered war, opposing views of how the world should be, racial and ethnic differences, marriage, divorce, remarriage, and a host of personal traumas and tragedies.

Society is not always comfortable with such friendships, consequently they take a great deal of determination and work to maintain. Honest boundaries and maturity are prime ingredients, especially when navigating issues of nervous significant others, or physical attractions that sometimes arise, especially during times of vulnerability.

Friends enrich one's life. And that's what matters.
Jean Martinez
Lansdale, Pa.

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