Inbox – September 24, 2014

Letters to the Editor

LEO Weekly welcomes letters that are brief (350 words max) and thoughtful. Ad hominem attacks will be ignored, and we need your name and a daytime phone number. Send snail mail to Inbox, 301 E. Main St., Suite 201, Louisville, KY 40202. Fax to 895-9779 or email to [email protected]. We may edit for length, grammar and clarity.

Fair, not fear
Enjoyed Kevin Gibson’s article “Louisville’s long love affair with beer” (Sept. 17). It’s worth noting the reason Fehr Brewing Company used the bear (pictured on the cover) in its later advertising was a problem potential customers had with pronunciation of “Fehr” (pronounced “fair,” rhymes with “bear”). Often mispronounced as “fear, “the slogan, “It’s always FEHR WEATHER” (taxi poster pictured on page 16), was an early attempt to remedy the situation. The problem persists. Type “Fehr Beer” into eBay’s search engine and you are asked if you meant “fear beer.” Don’t fear the beer, in moderation!
PS: The bear’s name is Freddie Fehr, the friendly bear.
Kent Speer, 40207
One white friend 
Let me start by saying I am not a math genius. OK, full disclosure: I sort of am a math whiz. But I am not a journalism guru. Still, I do think that opinion pieces are supposed to state the big idea first, and that idea should be roundly based on facts that support an argument.
And so, I was disappointed to read Jaison Gardner’s In Visible Ink column, and see some questionable math in the first paragraph. I am also disappointed that he would try to use that study (even if it were accurate) to make a point.
Let me explain. There are roughly five whites in America for every black (depending on how you count the races). So, assuming that friendship is symmetric (math term), then the average (mean) black will have 5 times the number of white friends as the average white has black friends.  It has to happen. It is simple arithmetic, really.
Reporting otherwise is sort of like saying that the average guy has had 10 female sex partners, while the average girl has had five male ones. It ain’t so. Not if you are meaning by average “the mean.”  But I digress.
So, the only way that blacks truly have 8 white friends per hundred (while whites have 1 black friend per 100) has to be one of the following:
(1) Average whites have 100 friends for every 62.5 friends that average blacks have (i.e., whites are inherently “more friendly”; i.e., those 8 per 100 white friends are really only 5 folks, because the average black guy only has 62.5 friends). (2) Somebody is lying (blacks over-report white friends or whites under-report black buddies). (3) Both races make lots of friends outside the country, but sadly they are all white foreigners.(4) Friendship isn’t symmetrical. Sorry, “black acquaintances” — you aren’t “my friend” even if I am “yours.”
I say all this tongue in cheek because my real point is (after marinating on that study as Mr. Gardner suggests), the study doesn’t really tell me anything. Even if it were accurate (under one of my four scenarios), it really just means there are more whites than blacks, so by simple math, blacks have to have a higher percentage on mean than whites.
Bob Hogan, New Albany, Ind.
More minimum wage debate
I would like to thank Mr. Self for his thoughtful reply to my letter about the minimum wage (Sept. 17 Letter to Editor). He states that “the minimum wage should be tied to increases in inflation and production in the economy as a whole.” I would suggest that this does not solve the basic problem that people whose production is not worth at least as much as the minimum wage, at whatever number it is set, will simply not be hired. I would also note that while the productivity of U.S. workers on average has risen considerably since the 1960s (this is what Sen. Warren bases her $22 an hour figure on), the productivity of minimum wage workers has not risen nearly as much.
I would like to point out something else. Every time any costs increase significantly, it puts pressure on businesses to reduce them. This is true whether the costs are taxes, energy, rent, raw materials or labor. The future in labor costs at fast food restaurants, for example, is automation. Someday 60-year-old folks will take their 30-year-old, never-employed children to McDonald’s. They will place their orders on their cell phones, their food will be brought out to them by robots that look a lot like the robots that are cleaning the floors and the empty tables, while in the back, a machine will prepare all the food precisely as it was ordered: no pickles, extra ketchup. Everyone will wonder why the only person working at McDonald’s is repairing one of the robots.
A higher wage that no one makes doesn’t seem very humane to me. Perhaps instead a negative income tax that guaranteed everyone a minimum income, but allowed people whose skills are more modest to be employed, would be better.
Rich Mills, Shawnee