Thursday, March 24, 2005

When government keeps you poor

A New York Post editorial criticizes the New York City Council for passing a broad law meant to single out one particular business:
Legislation meant to block hotels in the city from converting more than 20 percent of their room space to condominiums was laid before the council.

The intent, of course, is to thwart an effort to turn most of the once-prosperous Plaza hotel into condo units.

But why should the council care what the hotel owners do with their private property? Besides, wouldn't luxury condos of that sort turn a pretty property-tax penny for a fiscally stressed city?

Shouldn't the council welcome investment of that sort?

Don't be silly.

The council cares only for itself, and the special interests who become so useful at election times. In this case, the lawmakers are kissing up to the city's hotel-workers union — which is dead set against the conversion plan.
I've previously mentioned Kelo v. City of New London, now being heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. The state of Connecticut is trying to force private property owners to sell to developers, who will establish businesses that will generate more tax revenue. It's one of the most shameful crimes against the Constitution I've ever heard of, because the Fifth Amendment's power of "eminent domain" never meant a forcible transfer from private hands to private hands.0

Well, the New York City Council is exercising a different type of property control: you keep the land and building, we just tell you what to do with it. The City Council couldn't care less that it would generate more tax revenue if the Plaza owners could exercise their full private property rights. The council doesn't care about private property rights, and why should they care about maximizing tax revenues when they don't have to personally make up any budget deficits?

On the other hand, union lobbyists' "contributions" during election season are something very much worth caring about.

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