Friday, June 30, 2006

Pushcart Before the Horse

As the NY Post reports today there was a protest yesterday in front of City Hall by unlicensed street vendors who are complaining about their carts being "wheeled away by the city for lack of proper licensing." A group called Street Vendors for Justice is protesting the move complaining that about 20 carts have been, along with the goods they contained, confiscated by the city.

NY1 picks up the story and quotes one of the unlicensed (undocumented?) vendors saying, "We are asking for an unlimited amount of licenses," and Councilman Charles Barron seems to agree since he has introduced a bill to raise the 3,000 license cap. As the Councilman told the Post, "Why should we restrict access to be fully licensed when they are just trying to make an honest living?"

Why should we restrict? Well for one thing these folks who are just trying to make an honest living (By working illegally?) are actually taking business away from the tax paying store owners they often set up their carts right in front of. If they are only interested in feeding their families than they should look for work at one of the countless supermarkets that are constantly looking for new employees.

If they are afraid to actually apply for a real documented job than we do have a real problem with illegal immigrants coming into the city and threatening, through their unlicensed peddling, to undermine the city's tax base. Calcutta hear we come!

One last point. The Post points out that the city only licenses 3,000 pushcarts but, at the same time, licenses 9,000 vendors. What this means is that the city is creating a pool of contract laborers to work for unscrupulous goods wholesalers. The exploitation is inevitable and needs to be investigated.