- The New York Times - unrelenting champion of the underprivileged,
mighty battler against all corporate evils, and vehement opponent of Republican
tax cuts for the "rich and powerful" - lives by a far more self-serving
motto: All the corporate welfare that's fit to collect.
- You won't see it reported on the Times' front page, so
here's the scoop: The Gray Lady is a greedy leech, siphoning off millions
of dollars in state taxpayer subsidies for private real estate development
disguised as a public good. Now, the company stands to benefit from a federal
tax-exempt bond program intended to help businesses devastated by the Sept.
11 terrorist attacks.
- This week, it was revealed that the Times Company's development
partner for the headquarters project has asked city officials for $400
million in federally financed "Liberty Bonds." The federal program
was meant for rebuilding in New York City's Sept. 11 disaster zone, not
for subsidizing a private newspaper's long-planned palatial ambitions.
- The background: While small business owners near Ground
Zero in lower Manhattan struggled to pick up the pieces after the Sept.
11 terrorist attacks, all the midtown Manhattan fat cats at the Times had
to do was throw a tantrum to obtain public funding for a new building.
After the newspaper's executives threatened to move their workers out of
town, city and state officials coughed up a vast tract of land on the edge
of Times Square for a shiny, new 52-story headquarters.
- One minor glitch: The land that government authorities
proposed to give away - and the 11 buildings and 30 businesses located
on it - wasn't theirs for the taking. No matter. The corporate welfare
conspirators invoked two magic words: eminent domain.
- Eminent domain powers were originally intended only for
"public use" projects, such as highways or bridges. But with
the wave of a pen, the Empire State Development Corporation, a "public
benefit corporation," condemned the coveted private property on Eighth
Avenue between 40th and 41st Streets for the Times' new digs. Opposed to
special tax breaks for everyone else, the Times' project comes lined with
a handy $26.1 million in sales-tax exemptions on equipment and materials
used for construction, a waiver of the mortgage-recording tax, and a discount
on electricity rates.
- Although the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution
(you know, that pesky old piece of paper that Times editorial writers only
seem to rediscover when it's needed to justify a right to sodomy or abortion
or downloading porn from the Internet) bars the use of eminent domain without
"just compensation," the Times is only required to pay $85.6
million for the land. That's at least a 25 percent discount, according
to Massachusetts Institute of Technology real estate professor W. Tod McGrath.
- In addition, the Washington, D.C.-based Institute for
Justice noted in a recent report on eminent domain abuse, the Times and
its developer will recoup any cost of acquisition that exceeds $84.94 million
in rent concessions, a figure the Times itself estimates may come to $29
million. Buried in the 99-year lease agreement is an option provision stating
that after 29 years, the Times may buy the site in exchange for one dollar.
- This cozy arrangement is "legalized theft,"
plain and simple, as New York Libertarian Party official Richard Cooper
has noted from the beginning stages of what he and the party have dubbed
- It's also an example of the Times' sky-scraping editorial
- The paper's opinion pages have been filled for the past
two years with liberal rants from the likes of Nicholas Kristof and Paul
Krugman decrying corporate welfare schemes and accusing President Bush
and Republicans of "crony capitalism." Kristof called a Texas
Rangers baseball stadium land grab supported by Bush an "avaricious
bruising of the public interest." Krugman carps about subsidies to
the energy industry. The Times' editorial board lambastes government loan
guarantees to special corporate interests as "pork-barrel politics"
that have no honest economic justification.
- All have been silent on their own employer's avaricious
feasting at the public trough. Who wants to oppose "crony capitalism,"
after all, when a corner office with windows in the new publicly financed
headquarters may be at stake?
- Michelle Malkin's column is syndicated by Creators Syndicate
and appears in about 100 newspapers nationwide. Her book, "Invasion:
How America Still Welcomes Terrorists, Criminals and Other Foreign Menaces
to Our Shores," is a national best seller and now available at ShopNetDaily.
All copies of the book sold at ShopNetDaily are personally autographed.