Harry Bernstein's May 27 column, "Combating the Underground Economy," was disturbing.
Bernstein attacks "tax evasion schemes" by implying that this money belongs to the government--and people are stealing it. On the contrary, this money belongs to the people of California, and they are fully within their rights to try to keep it from the prying hands of tax collectors and other government agents.
Employers and employees who avoid taxes are not showing dishonesty, but frustration with a system that taxes them, spends their money and regulates them more and more each day.
Without wages from the underground economy, thousands more people would be unemployed and underemployed. In other countries, such as Italy and Mexico, there would be no economy or prosperity without the underground economy (or "black market"). At some level, taxes become so high and regulations so cumbersome that people rebel--not violently, but economically.
An excellent example of the fallacy of Bernstein's views are his attacks on people who hire non-union electricians for $7 per hour when they could hire union members for $23 per hour plus benefits. Obviously, Bernstein flunked Economics 101.
The unionists are pricing themselves out of the labor market. Consumers demand quality services at a reasonable price, and they just are not getting them.
Bernstein is upset that employees are not receiving their health benefits when they are paid "under the table." I work for a living, and I would gladly trade all my benefits for the $379 per month that is forcibly extracted from my paycheck for federal and state income taxes, Social Security taxes, and state disability taxes.
Rather than shrinking, the underground economy will be growing in the years to come, much to the benefit of business, working people and consumers. I urge Bernstein to join this movement rather than working to beat it.