by Joe Gerken Jr.
If Carl Paladino were alive in 1862, he no doubt would have condemned President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation as a “socialist” measure which will “tie the hands” of enterprising slave owners and lead to “massive loss of jobs” among negroes in the South.
Paladino uses the same misguided set of arguments to contest the proposed community benefits agreement, which will insure that shops and restaurants in the Canal Side development will pay a living wage to their employees. Paladino, who made a good deal of his fortune on government contracts, apparently resents any government “interference” that benefits workers. He notes that Buffalo is “the second poorest city in America” but ignores the fact that new businesses paying minimum wage to their employees will continue the cycle of poverty.
The simple fact is that, if a shop or restaurant is operating on such a small margin that it can’t afford to pay decent wages, it probably ought not to set up at the Canal site. Buffalo does not need a spate of new development unless there is a real economic benefit to the city. Real benefit means good jobs at decent wages. The community benefit agreement is good for Buffalo. It will ultimately be good for the Canal Side entrepreneurs, since it will level the playing field, and allow them to adequately compensate their staff without being undercut by less scrupulous employers.
Joe Gerken Jr.
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