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August 18, 2018

Up Front - The Publisher's Column

Honest labor: Fixing Floridians' income inequality

Andrew P. Corty | 9/28/2016

Income inequality is the topic of a feature in this issue and of executive editor Mark Howard’s column. Mark writes about federal programs (disability, Head Start, food stamps, etc.) and how the structure of those benefits can create disincentives for recipients to try to move up in the world. The programs, meant to provide a basic level of support, end up having unintended (and negative) consequences — why train for a higher-paying job if the increase in income will be more than offset by a loss of benefits?

The Florida Chamber of Commerce is among the groups that advocate restructuring the nation’s benefit system so that recipients might lose certain benefits gradually as they climb the economic ladder rather than abruptly — rewarding work and initiative.

At this article (starting on page 104 in the magazine), a group of Florida executives tells readers how they think the country can best tackle the problem of income inequality.

As for myself, I believe the best way to fix the problem is by investing in education and job training and retraining. For instance, SunPass technology has largely eliminated the need for toll collectors. While that wasn’t the highest-paying job in the land, it certainly helped families put food on the table.

We can offer retraining to those people who have lost jobs for positions that do exist and will exist into the future.

Let’s ramp up K-12 education to provide better reading, math and thinking skills. Let’s follow Valencia College President Sandy Shugart’s recommendation to fund programs for expanded adult training. And let’s endorse Florida Chamber President Mark Wilson, who calls for “equal opportunity” for all, not necessarily “equal outcomes.”

Naturally, these solutions carry a cost. Harris Rosen is a most generous man who talks about adopting a community in need. So either we need more Harris Rosens to step up, or we need a system to tax the wealthy to achieve these same ends. After all, what good will wealth do if the United States falls into disarray in a couple of generations?


Miami-Dade gets special treatment in this month’s issue with a portrait of that large, fascinating and growing community.

With 2.7 million people from every corner of the globe, the region truly is a mosaic of cultures. Miami-Dade business executives often look to Central America, South America, Europe and elsewhere from their Florida base.

Why not? Miami-Dade has mega-companies like Carnival Cruise Lines and American Airlines that serve Floridians but also operate worldwide, assets like the airport and seaport that serve people around the world, professional organizations like Greenberg Traurig and Holland & Knight that serve Florida clients but also have worldwide networks, real estate firms like Cushman & Wakefield with strong Florida operations in addition to offices around the world, and top hospitals that treat our patients plus tens of thousands of medical tourists who come to the area seeking the best medical care.

Of course, almost all executives speak both English and Spanish, making business in this international city easy. Understanding this metropolis is the key to understanding Florida. After all, one in every eight Floridians lives in Miami-Dade, and about 30% of all Floridians live in southeast Florida. Take a visit and see for yourself.

Fitness Update: My running is going fine, but my weight hasn’t dropped. To perform well in the Turkey Trot, I must eschew bread, French fries and dessert — starting now.

— Andy Corty


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