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Letters to the editor: $15 per hour is a joke in Orlando; September is Library Card Month 

¶ $15 is a joke

After reading an article in the Orlando Sentinel praising a local restaurant for raising wages — to $15 an hour for non-tipped work and $8 an hour for tipped work — our Alex Galbraith responded by asking, "When are we all going to stop falling for this?" He pointed out that the average apartment is somewhere between $1,400-$1,600 per month in Orlando, and a full-time worker making $15 an hour would be spending anywhere from half to nearly two-thirds of their income on rent. "The point here is not to single out one Orlando-area business," he continued, adding that the business itself didn't have to raise its wages and deserved some credit for doing so. The point is that we shouldn't live in a society where it's praise-worthy to pay a barely livable wage.

@Jeri Lynn: Really engaging article. I read the Sentinel's article this morning and took it at face value and thought, this is good news, but this perspective is also helpful. ... We have an asset bubble in this country, and increasing wages (which is still important to adjust for increased cost of living) won't fix the problem. Real estate will continue to climb. We need to do something to cool the asset markets before they pop and not make property ownership such an exclusive club; there need to be more affordable housing options. I'm not sure what the answer is, but asset prices are increasing at rates much, much faster than general inflation. I'd love to read an article about how Central Florida is combating the housing shortage crisis and what we can do to help. Thanks as always for the great content and perspective.

@Rebecca Arefin: Minimum wage has NEVER been a living wage. It has always been a subsistence wage. It will always be a subsistence wage, no matter how much it is raised, because corporations will simply raise their prices, causing a never-ending cycle of greater and greater inflation. All that raising the minimum wage is going to accomplish is to put more and more people at poverty level.

@Tyler Rice: Why not go learn a trade? Absolutely nothing wrong with being an electrician, roofer, hanging drywall or a plumber. Sure it’s hard work, but you make good money. PLUS, construction companies are begging for skilled labor with this housing boom. No, no, take the easy way out. Keep whining about minimum wage and hope sleepy Joe makes everything better!

@Ethan Baker: Tyler Rice, restaurants, hotels and other places in the hospitality and tourism industry are also begging for employees because people did find better-paying jobs.

¶ September is library card month

A library card is the most valuable card you will possess in your wallet. It's estimated the average American gains $500 annually with a library card. It could be as simple as availing yourself of your local library's books and publications, saving you this expense. But this only scratches the surface.

The benefits you get by stepping into the library itself are priceless. Today, this expands beyond books to include science kits, telescopes, maker spaces, and a wide range of programs for young and old alike. Being Florida, the air conditioning and Wi-Fi doesn't hurt either. A library is not a mausoleum of books, however. It is the one of the most vital public spaces in America today, where civilization happens.

The benefits to our lives are too numerous to list here, but one deserves special notice: the pleasure of reading. Bestowing this on your children is perhaps the most powerful gift you can ever give your family. It will redound through the ages, long after you are gone.

Benjamin Franklin founded one of America's earliest libraries in the 18th century. Most of these early libraries were limited to paying members. But as America evolved, so did our libraries. In the 19th century, Andrew Carnegie and others helped spur the growth of public libraries. Many of central Florida's libraries date from this time. These were taxpayer-funded institutions, befitting a society based on democracy and self-improvement.

So, where's your library card? — Bryan Stewart, Maitland

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