In his attempt to prove why we don't need a Labor Department, Matt Patterson ("Why do we need a Labor Department?" Mar. 22) unwittingly demonstrates just the opposite. Free market advocates like Mr. Patterson love to lionize the business sector, and there are indeed government agencies and programs that support and promote the employer side of the labor market. Commerce and the Small Business Administration come to mind. Even the Agriculture Department is charged with, among other goals, expanding markets for American agricultural products.
But there is another side of the labor market: employees, whose contribution to the nation's economy deserves equal respect. In exchange for their labor, wage earners quite reasonably expect fair wages, decent working conditions and some measure of protection from the abuse and excesses that inevitably surface in a profit-driven economy. It is the mission of the Labor Department to support those goals and to provide that protection.
To his credit, Mr. Patterson accurately cited the department's mission in his commentary, but then he perversely castigates the Labor Department for failing to achieve not the mission it has, but the mission he wishes it had — helping businesses grow the economy.
It is precisely this lopsided view that values only the employer side of our economy that demonstrates why we need a Labor Department to advocate for workers.
Lorraine Rohlik, Jessup