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Unfree Market

by on April 5, 2010

You may have made your annual trip to the Broadway Market last week to stockpile Easter delicacies.  If the pattern follows, you will then understandably forget that the obsolete bazaar exists until Palm Sunday 2011.  But it will likely be there next year despite going 51 weeks with little patronage.

Curiously, the public keeps the establishment open even if most of us don’t shop there aside from those rare occasions when one needs to acquire a butter lamb.  To be clear, the city owns the Market, which is how the lights have been kept on long after economic reality dictates it should have gone dark.

Running a shopping enterprise is just another position directly or indirectly on Buffalo’s payroll.  The municipality can’t figure out why the rot won’t stop despite all the money it spends.  Hmm.  Sadly, the city has been unwittingly provoking its own decline for years by making what’s private public.  In the end, propping up certain enterprises only hurts the same places’ fortunes, along with everyone else’s.

Essentially, Buffalo’s government is financially promoting tradition.  With the precedent of conserving sentimentality through public funding in mind, City Hall may as well pay to resurrect AM&A’s, Freddie’s Doughnuts, and The Sample.

Reviving memories and traditions of a bygone era is already literally keeping the city from moving into the future, so why not completely immerse ourselves in the past?  As seen on the East Side, the government doesn’t care whether such businesses could succeed on their own.

While they’re at it, they should also petition the King and Queen of Ontario to re-build Crystal Beach Amusement Park.  After all, so many of us have wonderful recollections of desperately scarfing down funnel cakes before reaching the end of the line for the Comet or Laff in the Dark; the fact that the park doesn’t presently exist shouldn’t prevent Western New Yorkers from being granted the right to again experience the unwise rite of passage.  Concerned Canadians shouldn’t worry: Buffalo will cover the price tag, naturally.

But propping up the past isn’t cheap.  Of course, no one in power will question why areas like the blocks surrounding the Market are so decrepit.  The multi-level mini-stimulus taking place in Buffalo, whereby various governments provide loans to retailers or bribe others to move in or not move away, does nothing but vacuum private capital out of an economy that desperately needs it.

It’s not the companies’ fault for taking what’s available: the area’s administrators are the ones who are handing out bags full of currency.  Reduce the tax burden by ending such payments, and companies might just move here or stay voluntarily.

Instead, there’s little income left under the present system to nourish both the commercial and residential sectors.  That leads to, oh, struggling vendor assemblages in rundown neighborhoods.

The reason the city has to subsidize places like the Broadway Market is precisely because the city subsidizes places like the Broadway Market.  It’s no different than what’s going on nationally, as taking our money to artificially nourish companies of all types isn’t helping for some baffling reason.

It might seem distressing, but the proper course is to let the Broadway Market expire naturally if the customers aren’t there most of the year.  That said, ending the practice of letting the city play real-life Monopoly might be the decision that actually invigorates and saves such businesses.

Let people spend where they want instead of impounding and redistributing income, and it will ultimately provoke a revival of the area’s prospects.  The Market might even be able to support itself.  Alternately, we’ve seen what it costs the city to keep the place open.

One Comment
  1. Public money celebrating 1970’s NYC Chique on Buffalo’s east side…

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