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posted: 3/19/2014 5:01 AM

Satire in letter perhaps too subtle

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Upon reading James Pajcic's Fencepost letter ("Make a 'living wage' truly livable," March 1) advocating that Illinois raise its minimum wage to "what I call The American Wage, $50 an hour" as a cure for all our economic ills, my first impulse was to fire up my iPad and write a stinging rebuttal. I would have pointed out that the almost 23,000 Illinois firms and farms -- exporting about $65 billion in goods annually to foreign markets and employing hundreds of thousands of workers (according to the U.S. Commerce Department) -- would be priced out of business. They'd either have to shut their doors or call the moving companies.

The same would hold true for the even greater number of Illinois companies shipping their outputs to other states with much lower labor costs. Unemployment in Illinois would soar. The cost of social programs would explode. Affluent people would flee from the higher taxes needed to support these programs. Both public and private sector pension plans would collapse.

Then I realized that Mr. Pajcic must be engaging in wicked satire on the model of Jonathan Swift's 18th-century "A Modest Proposal," which with a straight face suggested that the destitute Irish could ease the burdens imposed both by poverty and overpopulation by selling their children to their English oppressors as food. While not so grisly as Swift's proposal, Mr. Pajcic's is almost as deadly, so he couldn't possibly be serious. Unfortunately, some economically illiterate readers might think that he was. Maybe the letter should have been labeled as satire or parody.

Bob Foys


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