Buffalo News: On minimum wage, let's end the absurdity

By Rod Watson
Buffalo News, May 31, 2012

From the “you can’t make this stuff up” department:

The State Senate’s Republican leader opposes hiking New York’s minimum wage because paying workers more means they’d lose some government benefits.

Really. That’s among Majority Leader Dean Skelos’ objections to the idea that New Yorkers be able to lift themselves out of poverty by working hard. ...

The public knows that, as evidenced by Wednesday’s Quinnipiac University poll showing wide support for the higher wage floor. Some Buffalo entrepreneurs know it, too.

Business issues are “much bigger than the minimum wage,” which is not “going to make or break New York State,” said Jon Welch, co-founder of Talking Leaves Books, which employs between 12 and 15 people at two stores.

“Even in Buffalo, there are small retailers opening all the time,” said Welch, who supports the hike.

By contrast, he noted that big retailers look for any advantage they can extort and use competitiveness arguments “as a battering ram to try to get better deals for themselves.”

The more important issue is whether a small business is growing. That’s what the minimum wage facilitates by putting more money in the pockets of people who, by necessity, must spend it. That’s what boosts economic growth.

“Our costs go up every year. Our staff’s cost of living goes up every year. So it only makes sense that the minimum wage should go up every year,” said Tim Bartlett, general manager at the Lexington Co-op.

Despite the GOP’s faux concern for small business, Bartlett said that such retailers are more likely to pay better “because they’re looking their employees in the eye every day” and “because we’re concerned about our communities.” ...

Maybe state senators such as Buffalo’s Mark Grisanti should talk with some of these local business owners.

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Copyright 2012 Buffalo News

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