The City of Ottumwa is considering investing in the development of a hotel property adjacent to the Bridgeview Center. The primary goal of the investment, as stated by Councilmember Mark Roe during his editorial board interview, is to attract visitor spending and offset the existing public subsidy to the Bridgeview Center. These goals address the needs of the City and local businesses, but what about the workers who run the hotel? Front-line workers at our hotels endure some of the lowest paying jobs in our community. If we want to be a good host to visitors, let’s put our best foot forward and make sure our hotel employees earn a living salary. This requires our private hotel partner to provide a wage rate and sufficient hours for front-line workers to make ends meet. 

The arguments against paying a living wage are numerous. Opponents typically rely on espousing America’s success in relying on free-market principles, harkening back to Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” of the market place. Government interference in moving that hand is tied to socialism, and the ills that have befallen (fill in the blank with a country).  Here are the fallacies with those arguments, well-intentioned as they may be. First, Adam Smith advocated for a living wage in his Wealth of Nations. His logic was simple. Employers need to pay a living wage so workers can raise families and continue to provide employees for future generations of capitalists. Second, our economy is already a blend of capitalism and socialism. This is particularly true in the tourism sector where government builds and subsidizes visitor attractions and convention facilities. In the words of our current White House Chief of Staff, “Get over it.”

Drawing the line on public involvement in visitor attractions, just before addressing the wage structure of front-line employees, is wrong.  The debate over forming a public-private partnership should include addressing the health and well-being of city residents that will staff the new hotel. If we want our community to put our best foot forward, we need to have front-line employees who enjoy some modicum of economic security.

William Farley

Ottumwa

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We plod along daily with little or no thought of tomorrow. I recall a Ben Franklin quote. You have a republic if you can keep it. Our complicity leads us astray or our belief that all things good last forever. What is known at higher government levels but is never released are the 10 rules for the takeover of the United States. How many of these have not been completed? 1. Take minds from church, putting them on sex and sports. 2. Devaluate the money. 3. Cause problems in government. 4. Create labor problems. 5. Lower educations. 6. Widen the classes in persons. 7. Make people more indebted to government. 8. Cause language barriers. 9. Create civil disturbances among persons. 10. Control all firearms. These rules have been shortened along with them is how to do it. These are not my inner thoughts but truth. I learned of them many years ago while working for the government. Certain required reading was necessary before employment. They are for real and we can see they are being fulfilled. Only one is lacking, No. 10, and it will be quickly resolved. See it this way if an army feared another army there would never be a war. What is feared are the armed civilians. Think what it might be like to land an army on the west coast of this country and be met with 20 million armed civilians. You lose. Take the weapons. No problem. The Japanese Empire after the bombing of Pearl Harbor had us defeated but know if they landed on the west coast they would lose. That is recorded history. This republic has lasted longer than most. Feel proud. Listen to those seeking the office of president, let your common reasoning and history guide you. Cast politics aside and think. My time has already gone but your children and grandchildren have not.

Max Hulen

Ottumwa

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