In the wake of Wall Street crises, we mustn’t forget that poor people can be greedy, too

Heather MacDonald, at City Journal, has it here:

In June, the city’s Rent Guidelines Board approved a rent increase for apartments whose tenants have lived in them for more than six years and that rent for less than $1,000 a month. The Board acted in response to rising fuel, water, and tax expenses, which have hit small property owners particularly hard. On September 16, the Legal Aid Society and Legal Services of New York sued the Rent Guidelines Board over the new rates.

The rent increase—$45 a month for one-year leases and $85 a month for two-year leases—will affect tenants like Santiago Garza, who has been living in a rent-stabilized apartment on West 48th Street since 1981. Garza pays $570 a month for his digs, while a comparable apartment next to him rents for $1,800, he told the New York Post in June. Yet Garza and the hundreds of angry tenants and advocates who protested the rent hike when it was approved believe that they are merely getting what they deserve—unlike their landlords, who don’t “do enough,” Garza complained. Getting a $1200-a-month subsidy from your landlord, and forcing him to take a huge loss on the market value of his property, isn’t greed, it’s a right! A $1200-a-month windfall to a tenant: simple justice. A market-driven level of rent: landlord avarice.

[My emphasis. – NPO]

I am not dispossessed of sympathy for those living near, at, and beneath the poverty line — Hell, right now, I’m technically living there! (Yes, my parents offer to help if ever I need it, and actually contributed to my having some significant repairs done under the hood of my car, but I generally refuse.) — and, in more foolish times, I have actually defended, to myself, rent control. However, the arguments against this policy more than compelled me to open my eyes. My sympathy for property rights particularly makes rent control anathema to me.

I haven’t the solution to the very real problem that rent control fails to address, and, revealing my sometimes-surfacing doubts about the free market (which, of late, I have, if you have not noticed, completely suffocated as I’ve joined in waging a war of words against the increasingly interventionist bureaucracy that “governs” this nation), I eagerly proclaim that something seems not to be quite right about how our property valuation systems work, but an almost-twelve-hundred-dollar-per-month break on the rent is just not right. Not right at all. Santiago Garza ought to appreciate how easy he has it, rather than to complain about a pathetically small increase in his rent.


One Response

  1. Mr. Garza is thinking small. Apparently, he has a right to a big ol’ five-bedroom house, and a zero-down mortgage, too – with “mortgage control” subsidized by Uncle Sam.

    And in other news, those proverbial wolves just voted themselves, by a 2:1 margin, the right to eat the proverbial sheep.

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