As long as immigrants work for cheap, employers won't pay up

Regarding the Dec. 12 article, "Time to dispel some economic myths": For myth No. 2, the fact is that immigrants are willing to work for lower wages than native-born Americans.

The article quotes Dean Baker, codirector of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, who states that all we have to do is significantly increase the wages of the low-paying jobs and then native-born Americans would do the work. This is an extremely simplistic and unrealistic position to take because it simply will not happen here in the United States.

Wages are primarily determined by the supply of and demand for labor. If people are available who are willing to do a specific task for low wages that is who the employers will hire. There are very few employers who will increase wages so that they will be able to hire native-born Americans when immigrants are available, willing, and able to do the same work for lower wages.

If there were no immigrants to do the low-wage tasks, then our economy would certainly be different. I would not venture a guess as to how different things might be. I would also doubt the ability of an economic research center (like the one to which Mr. Baker belongs) to forecast the outcome of this societal change.

This article certainly provoked my thinking, and I appreciate it.
Jim Williams
Yorba Linda, Calif.

The death penalty brutalizes everyone

The argument in Joanna Shepherd's Dec. 14 Opinion piece, "Why not all executions deter murder," frightens me. Do we really want to live in a land ruled by prosecutors and judges eager to charge people with capital crimes, convict, and execute?

I think grave ethical considerations escape Ms. Shepherd. She treats the concept of "brutalization" in too simplistic a fashion. It is not a polar opposite of "deterrence," affecting in an analogous way the judgment of a potential murderer. Rather, I believe, every execution brutalizes every one of us.

Not questioning our society's barbarous rules makes us more brutal. Shepherd's narrow use of terms shows her approach is not the way to encourage a satisfactory discussion of capital punishment.
Mark Stephen Caponigro
New York

Indian Air Force is still not up to par

In response to the Nov. 28 article, "Indian Air Force, in war games, gives US a run": It would be well to recall that the Indian Air Force (IAF) has lost nearly one-fourth of its combat strength over the past few years due to the failure of successive governments in replacing the largely Soviet-vintage fleet. The IAF lacks both advanced simulators and trainer jets. Despite that, and it is noteworthy, Indian pilots have managed to maintain professional standards.

The IAF now has its sights on modernization and force multiplication, using both indigenous and imported capability in command and control systems, space and advanced missiles, as well as lasers. But the IAF is unlikely to rebuild its numerical strength for at least the next 20 years, and high-tech aircraft, sensors, and command and control systems are the only means it has to maintain air superiority.

Undoubtedly, joint exercises with the US Air Force help both sides in learning more tactically, and they help achieve the "interoperability" that the United States is looking for with a regional power in southern Asia.
Gulshan Luthra
Mr. Luthra is a defense analyst.
New Delhi, India

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