BET ON WORKERS

We must focus our efforts on the hundreds of small companies based in our state and especially manufacturing firms.

I propose an incentive for hires in the high-tech and manufacturing sectors to build the work force for the future. Instead of paying unemployment benefits not to work, let us use some of that money to offer cash incentives to companies that add to their staff at the entry-level and provide training to such employees.

We should cover 50 percent of the wages with a cap of $25,000 per job and a time limit of no more than two years. Incentives would be available to companies within the manufacturing, high-tech, software, bio-med or bio-tech industries and to start-ups in those fields. This would be in cash and not tax credits because start-ups especially don't have the earnings to take advantage of tax credits! I would restrict such payments to companies with fewer than 200 employees as a way to limit the overall cost and to focus on the small and medium companies.

Betting on our workforce is a smart and a winning strategy.

Paul Pirrotta, South Glastonbury

DROP OUTDATED MORALITY

Drop the education mantra. Are Connecticut manufacturers really waiting for the educated before they will turn out products? Are the Chinese who are making our clothes well versed in advanced calculus? During World War II, bombers were built by housewives whose education before manufacturing was in bread and bed making. Wizard-of-Oz diplomas are not required to begin most jobs.

Begin an embryo company. Instead of giving money to existing companies that have a product whose workforce is already sufficient for its demand, the state should find an unfulfilled consumer need, obtain capital from investors and begin production. For example, a one man, small, safe, classy, comfortable and efficient vehicle could be designed and made in Connecticut and leased to commuters nation-wide.

Some laws are based on an outdated idea of morality. Such laws often restrict the production and sale of a service or product. Here the state has a window of opportunity to go into business for itself. Such was the situation with gambling years ago and the state opened a lucrative lottery business free from competition. Marijuana may be the next great competition-free business for Connecticut.

Edward Putman, Vernon

HIRE MORE PEOPLE

The answer to why Connecticut — and the United States for that matter — has not created enough jobs lately is simple. The recession technically ended many months ago, but the job market has not rekindled because profit-making companies are spending profits on equipment, and enormous compensation for top management!

Yet, they are pressuring current employees to work 60, 70, 80 hours per week to meet demands instead of hiring more people. The Department of Labor needs to step in! Many companies are taking advantage of the definition of "salary" and are denying full-time employees of their right to a lunch break.

This is not only bad for the job market, but bad for employees' health! Americans do not sleep enough, do not exercise enough and eat crappy food because they work too much. Profit hoarders think leaner staffs equal savings on employee benefits. However, overworked, unhealthy staffs equal bigger health care expenses.

To create jobs, all that overtime needs to be shifted over to new hires — and our health care crisis will end as well! Let's make sure our legislators properly fund the Department of Labor, so it can do its job of protecting workers from workplace abuse.

Kathi Prudente, Glastonbury

SELL PRISON SPACE

The state Department. of Correction re-entry program has successfully decreased the inmate population allowing for closures of correctional facilities such as Webster and Bergin and there are thoughts of closing Enfield. Other states, however, are facing severe prison overcrowding. The state should contract with a state in need of overpopulation relief to incarcerate up to 700 of its inmates in Enfield.