The Friday Five Not So Good Friday Edition By Peter Herr

As Christians world-wide commemorate the day Jesus was crucified on Good Friday, I always wonder and never ask, what's so "good" about Good Friday? It certainly wasn't a good day for Jesus. So, in that spirit, here's some not so goodies for you to think on this week.

1. Minimum Wage Hike Harms Business.....or not

In what might be one of the largest bonehead moves of all times, the Republican members of the NY State Senate added a tax credit to the budget that is being finalized now. The tax credit goes to businesses that hire teenagers at minimum wage, so that the business won't have to pay the expected increase, instead, New York taxpayers will pay that increase. In what comes as no surprise, no one can even guestimate what this will cost. Certainly, it will be substantially more than expected, since it will encourage businesses to hire at 16 and fire at 20. This one baffles me at the deepest levels, and confirms my feelings that the Republican platform of protecting business at all costs is off its rails.

2. A Much Needed Hunting Ban.......on Bigfoots

Peter Hans Wiemer, founder of the Chautauqua Lake Bigfoot Expo, was disappointed when the NYS Department of Environmental Conversation said "no go" to his requested ban on hunting of Bigfoots. (Shouldn't the plural be Bigfeet?) The DEC's rational? Well, Bigfoots don't exist. Undaunted, Wiemer decided to go over the DEC's head and straight President Obama. Certainly, I sympathize with Wiemer. Nothing would be sadder than driving down the Thruway during Bigfoot Season and seeing a gutted Bigfoot strapped to the hood of a car. Let's face it. As long as there is a market for Bigfoot burgers and souvenir salt shakers made from Bigfoot toes, this over hunting problem is going to continue.

3. To Work or Not to Work

Chana Joffe-Walt produced a great piece on NPR regarding the booming "disability industrial complex". More people are on disability than ever before, an estimated 14 million Americans a year. What caused this boom? Two things. In 1996 then President Clinton's Welfare Reform pushed some of the costs of welfare to the states in an attempt to get states more involved in getting people off welfare. At the same time, lawyers, led by Binder and Binder, started advertising their services to help people get the government to give up the dough. In 1979, when Binder and Binder started advertising for clients, they represented 50 disabled clients. Last year? How about 30,000 clients, earning the firm a cool $68.7 million in fees. The government doesn't advertise the program, the lawyers do it for them. Another factor pushing people to disability? States hire companies like Public Consulting Group (PCG) , to identify and move people from welfare to disability. PCG's fee? $2300 per person. Since disability doesn't cost the states, $2300 is a bargain. The story is a little long, but it's a fascinating read.

4. Rolling Food Fees Smaller but Still Hard to Swallow

Luckily, the Buffalo Common Council was thoughtful and ignored the pleas of local restaurateur, Tucker Curtin, to basically drive the drivers out of business. The annual permit fee will now be $500, and they are considering $800 for the initial year, down from the original $1000. Is this appropriate? Nope, probably not. According to a story on WIVB, the permit fee for a food truck in Washington D.C. is only $100 a year and in NYC, ironically enough, they supersized it to $200 for a 2 year permit. Food trucks are a unique addition to our already vibrant food community. They are going to enhance the business community and not take away from it. This is a perfect example of the rising tide lifting all boats. If neighborhoods like Larkinville and Chippewa and the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus are exciting and offer variety, more businesses will locate there and bring more money to the existing businesses.......because, as much as I love Lloyd's, I don't want tacos for lunch every day. Kudos to the Common Council on this one. Hopefully, the towns and villages will follow suit and offer affordable fees and fair and manageable regualtions.

5. Honey Laundering

Counterfeit honey? Yep, it's true. Honey that is coming into the United States from Asian markets and other foreign countries may not be honey at all, but just honey flavored goo. In fact, some of it may be filled with toxins like lead. Another example that the cheapest isn't always the best. Another food stuff that is subject to counterfeiting.....olive oil. Popeye gonna be pissed......

Hop, Hop, Hoppy Easter, one and all.

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