The Teachout-Wu campaign was an awesome opportunity to mainstream some of the game-changing ideas that have been considered too wonky or uninteresting to voters. For example: public financing of elections, trust-busting giant monopolies, supporting local economies. However, there was one proposal that I thought was so powerful, relevant, and politically obvious that it could have unified true New Yorkers and won us the election -- but we simply ran out of time and didn't get a chance to make the case.
However, James Parrott at the Fiscal Policy Institute has now made the case -- and the initial reviews are good. Because who really wants to defend members of the global kleptocracy who stash their wealth in empty luxury apartments -- and pay little to zero taxes? I mean, if there's a common enemy who can unite the 99.98% and the .01%, it should be the .001%, right?
Wouldn't even New York's 1 percenters -- who live here, send their kids to local private schools, and support local fancy restaurants -- feel like the absent owners of 445 New York City apartments worth more than $25 million should pay their fair share? I'm sure even they could think of a good use for the $665 million a year that these nonresident oligarchs are costing our city:
It's a fair assumption that folks like Dmitry Rybolovlev, the Russian fertilizer billionaire whose family bought a condo at 15 Central Park West for $88 million, and reportedly owns homes in Hawaii, Palm Beach, Greece, and Monaco, does not pay local income tax. The same presumably holds true for Lawrence Stroll, the Canadian fashion industry billionaire who reportedly keeps homes in Mont Tremblant, London, Westmount and Mustique, not to mention the shimmering One57 on West 57th Street, where he is said to have bought a condo for $50 million.
Why is the rent so high? Because these guys are distorting the market with their lonely, untouched stainless steel appliances and granite countertops in the sky.