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Letters: Minimum Wage, Telecommuting, Short Poems


It's Tuesday, and time to read from your comments. Last week, we talked about Yahoo's new telecommuting policy. Our guest, Ben Waber, is president and CEO of Sociometric Solutions. He argued that chance face-to-face meetings spur creativity, making up the cost that telecommuting could save.

Joseph DiPietro(ph) disagreed. He wrote: After 20-plus years of dutifully and punctually showing up, doing my job and heading home, I was able to wrangle a deal as a full-time telecommuter. The change it has wrought in my productivity exceeded my best expectations, he writes. I put it quite a few more hours than before, but I now have time to do extra research, come up with new ways of doing things and pitching the ideas back to the office.

I'm not sure what metrics your guest used to measure the value of what comes from serendipity, he said, but the opposite side of the equation seems to have escaped the calculus. If several decades in the workplace haven't taught me anything else, they've taught me this: Tossing cats into a bag and shaking it is no guarantee that you'll get full-length mink coats as a result.

During last week's Opinion Page, Robert Reich argued for raising the minimum wage.

Byron in Albany, Oregon, wrote: I've run two businesses for almost two decades now. In both of these endeavors, I've made a point of paying a livable wage when employing the labor of others. There have been times when that has been difficult for me personally, he said, but I've always made it work. This is a matter of pragmatism, as well principle. By paying my employees enough to live, I ensured that I got excellent work from loyal people who understood or learned that it is possible to do well and do good at the same time.

But Jonathan Spiro(ph) disagreed, writing: Raising minimum wage depresses demand. And promoting increasing minimum wage and suggesting prices go up only by pennies, Reich underestimates the wage impact on pricing for small businesses, where wages are typically the largest input component. And he totally ignores the elasticity of demand for the output. Consumers have been straining under raising prices along with diminishing real wages, he writes. Small changes in prices for services like restaurants, personal services, household services, et cetera, result in significant reduction and consumption of those services. Dr. Reich may want to spend a little more time on main street and less time breathing the rarified atmosphere of the halls of academia, he says in conclusion.

On Thursday, we asked you to share your favorite piece of concise poetry. On Facebook, Anne from Tallahassee wrote us: A few years ago, when an adult colleague was asked what he wanted for his birthday, he asked everyone who came to the party to bring and read aloud an original poem. The consensus best of show were the couple who contributed this: We owe 'em a poem.

But Paul McGowan(ph) in Austin, Texas, was not such a big fan of the segment, so he wrote us a poem: This talk show's content usually leads me inspired. This one, though, leaves much to be desired.

If you have a correction, comment or question for us, the best way to reach us is by email. The address is talk@npr.org. Please, let us know where you're writing from and give us some help on how to pronounce your name. And if you're on Twitter, you can follow the show @totn. I'm @arishapiro. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.