February 12, 2009

AND YET PEOPLE SAY OUR PROBLEM IS UNFETTERED CAPITALISM:

New York City’s main industry lies in ruins; its finances are in peril; its housing market is falling. What does the city need? That’s right, tougher rent controls!

In times like this, it’s easy to believe that if you laid all the economists in the world end to end, they still wouldn’t reach a conclusion. But here’s one of the things that basically everyone, left to right, agrees on: rent control is the surest way to destroy a city’s housing stock short of aerial bombing.

Yeah, and the damage from rent control lasts longer. Plus this:

This bill, if it passes the Senate, will represent the third time that New York has reneged on its promises not to control new housing. From what I can tell, it’s trying to claw back decontrols of units that were built under laws providing for time-limited stabilization in exchange for tax breaks. Just like the first two times, it’s a good bet that New York City will now have a damn hard time getting anyone to build anything except another skybox for rich patrons who do not arouse the sympathy of the New York State legislature. Every time a New Yorker curses their dirty, run-down shoebox of an apartment, they should save an especially juicy oath for Sheldon Silver.

Politicians can’t do much to fix an economy, but they’re great at wrecking one.

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