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Big companies dominateIn the "Woman to Woman" "Chicago 'big-box' minimum-wage ordinance" piece (Aug. 9) your conservative Shaunti Feldhahn says that laws forcing big companies to pay higher minimum wages ignores economic fundamentals and cites Economics 101. She, like all conservatives, believes in the fantasy of laissez-faire and ignores market power.

It is true that in 101 you learn the glories of laissez-faire in an economy where all of the firms are small and are forced by price competition to lower prices to just above costs of production.

But then you are supposed to go beyond 101 to 102, where you learn the realities of the economy. Here price competition in the laissez-faire sense is almost nonexistent because all big markets are dominated by a few giant firms, which avoid price competition like the plague.

Firms get big, not through laissez-faire price competition, but mostly by using market power to drive smaller firms out of business, either by lowering prices below costs in the local market or buying them out. Wages are a big part of costs and the profit motive dictates the use of market power and political influence to minimize health and insurance benefits and pensions. &

8212; Harry L. Cook, Ashland

Time to pay upMedford residents will soon be asked whether we are willing to tax ourselves for school renovation. For many years, state school budgets were balanced in part by reducing district maintenance budgets. In effect we have neglected to maintain our schools. It is not sensible to continue this policy any longer. If we refuse to spend money on oil changes and tune-ups, soon our cars will need much more expensive work. The same goes for the schools. Our decision now is whether to run our schools into the ground or pay the mechanic to bring our schools back to safety and functional integrity. Things like roofs and heating are necessary but expensive. And good schools keep property values high. I don't enjoy paying taxes either, but we need to be responsible &

8212; let's vote for this bond. &

8212; Kevin Keating, Medford

Not that stupidAfter watching the news on Aug. 5 I must comment on a statement made by Rep. Sal Esquivel. He proudly announced that he was sending a message to the leadership of the Oregon State House of Representatives pledging a new era of bipartisanship. PUHLEEEEESE! Do we look that stupid? I guess he intends to rescue us from the evil forces of ... himself and the same leadership that has manipulated and obstructed any and all possible legislation that didn't meet their agenda. There has never been an opportunity quite like this one to change horses in midstream. The water is only getting deeper. It is our chance to "throw the bums out". I urge you to vote. &

8212; Barbara Donneaud, Medford

Handyman to the rescueI'm a senior, disabled person. My car stalled at a stop light in heavy traffic and this wonderful person, John Fletcher, got my car to a safe place and called a tow truck for me and wouldn't take anything for the help.

He's a handyman by trade and he lives up to his profession!

A very lovely person. &

8212; Pat Dusenbury, Jacksonville