More than a decade after the 9/11 attacks, a new World Trade Center is finally rising, along with a memorial, museum, and a transit hub.
When the projects are slated to open they'll supposedly symbolize America's strength, determination, and refusal to cave in. But they really tell a different story about taxpayer rip-offs, public-sector incompetence, and union and corporate greed.
One World Trade Center, formerly known as the Freedom Tower, will be the most expensive office building in American history by a long shot. Cost overruns have driven the price tag to $3.8 billion. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the public agency that's running the show, is sticking commuters with part of the tab by hiking tolls across the Hudson River to $12.
The new complex will dump 3-million square feet of office space into a soft rental market meaning Condé Nast, the flush publisher of The New Yorker, Wired, and Vanity Fair, got beau coups subsidies to move in. And who-other-than the federal government signed on to fill up five floors at a cost of $351 million over 20 years?
Even The New York Times' stimulus-pimping columnist Joe Nocera has called World Trade Center rebuilding an "example of just about everything wrong with modern government," asking, "where's the Tea Party when you need them?"
Just down the street from the Trade Center, a federally-financed transit hub is a billion dollars over budget, now coming in around $3.4 billion. Construction costs for the September 11th Memorial and Museum have climbed to $700 million, with taxpayers footing a portion of the bill.
New York's politically connected construction industry has benefited the most from 9/11 largess, but the city's real estate and banking cartels have gone whole hog at the taxpayer-funded trough, too.
The Bush administration gave New York $8 billion in tax-free Liberty Bonds, only to see a big portion of that gift go for projects that have nothing to do with September 11th. Brooklyn's Atlantic Yards benefited from subsidized bonds, as did a midtown Manhattan office project. Even Goldman Sachs, which has nearly a trillion dollars in assets, got almost two million dollars towards its new headquarters.
Since when did honoring the dead become an occasion for fleecing the living?
After September 11th, small townships in New Jersey and Long Island quickly built modest but moving memorials to pay tribute to the loved ones they lost in the attacks. In Lower Manhattan, something else completely is being built: an overdue, over-budget monument to the ease with which politicians, bureaucrats, and opportunists spend other people's money.
Written by Jim Epstein and Nick Gillespie, narrated by Kennedy, and shot and edited by Epstein, with help from Anthony L. Fisher.
About 2.30 minutes.
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