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World Trade Center: Anti-Capitalist, Anti-Private Property Symbol of Socialism and Politics

The new One World Trade Center tower in New York was in the news this week, as the spire was placed atop the tower, making it a symbolic 1776 feet high. But why did it take well over 10 years for all this, and it’s still not completed? It is expected to be completed in about 18 months, and currently 55% of it is leased.

The reason why it has taken so long to complete is that 95% of it is owned by the New York Port Authority. i.e. government-owned. This news story reminded me of a post I did a few years ago, and I’ll repost it here, with some minor changes:

The Twin Towers and Their Evil Eminent Domain Roots

September 13, 2010

The rebuilding on the site of the former World Trade Center 9 years and counting after the September 11th terrorist attacks has been slow. It appears that two of the main elements that have been holding things up have been bureaucrats and battles between victims’ families and leftists/”anti-war zealots” etc. on what kind of memorials to have on “Ground Zero.”

Had those properties been privately owned, you can bet your sweet bippy the whole area would have been completely rebuilt long ago. But the problems with the rebuilding are because the government-run Port Authority owns the property, as is the case with every other government-run entity or function.

Gary North in 2003 brought up the actual history of the World Trade Center: “The Twin Towers began with acts of legalized theft.” Eminent Domain.

It all started with those great freedom-loving Americans, believers in the ideals of the Founding Fathers, the Rockefellers.

No, I’m just being sarcastic. The Rockefellers, in this case then-NY Gov. Nelson Rockefeller and his brother David Rockefeller. It is a sad case of eminent domain, 1960s government confiscation of private property, with politically connected parasites destroying the lives and businesses of small business owners and entrepreneurs, so that some bureaucrats can play with their new properties like little girls play with their little dollhouses. It was a central planner’s dream come true. As Gary North notes,

The Twin Towers project was a combination of four crucial factors: (1) David Rockefeller’s desire to raise property values in lower Manhattan; (2) Gov. Nelson Rockefeller’s appointees, who controlled the Board of the Port Authority; (3) taxpayers’ credit, which was used to underwrite bonds to build the Twin Towers; (4) exemption from all New York City building codes and taxes….

The Twin Towers were conceived in the sin of eminent domain and leased in the iniquity of state ownership. They became symbols of state capitalism, towering emblems of technology and tax exemption.

And North quotes at length from a City Journal article with the details:

Virtually every important consideration in developing the World Trade Center had nothing to do with business and everything to do with politics. Costs, which the public would ultimately have to pay, mounted rapidly. To get New Jersey’s backing for the project, for example, the Port Authority agreed to take over the financially strapped Hudson tubes that brought many New Jersey rail commuters into Manhattan (today, it’s called the Port Authority Trans-Hudson, or PATH, train). The World Trade Center development thus extended the agency’s state-capitalist reach beyond real estate into mass transit. The final cost of the twin towers, as usually happens with publicly financed projects, swelled far beyond initial estimates. Supporters of the development had low-balled those estimates to win public support.

Since the World Trade Center originated as government’s idea of what lower Manhattan needed, rather than as what the market really called for, it’s no surprise that it misfired commercially….

Rather than attracting new firms to New York, as its planners thought it would, it drew tenants from other lower Manhattan offices, driving up vacancy rates throughout the area. With the towers still unfilled, New York State moved nearly all its Gotham offices into them, becoming the center’s biggest tenant. Similarly, the Port Authority moved many of its own offices there…

Such deal-making, with the public footing the bill, guarantees inefficiency, since there’s no free market in place that – by rewarding good work and disciplining bad – would pressure administrators to hire the right people for the right jobs and make sure they worked hard…

So, the Twin Towers really weren’t symbols of actual capitalism, actual free markets and private property, the principles upon which America was actually founded and that the Founding Fathers believed in. The World Trade Center towers were symbols of State capitalism, that is, State confiscation of property and wealth, in which it is the politicians, hacks and bureaucrats doing the wheeling and dealing, not only with the property that their bureaucracies stole from private citizens but not even paying the same taxes that their neighbors have to pay (which is already immoral enough).

All these arguments over memorials and rebuilding would not be happening if the property in question were not publicly, or, more accurately, State owned. We need some kind of Constitutional amendment or law — or something — that clearly states: “Separation of commerce and State!”

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