By J.P. FREIRE on 12.21.11 @ 1:49PM
A challenge to New York City’s onerous rent control laws hasbeen granted cert by the Supreme Court according to the New York Times. The plaintiff, James Harmon, aformer lawyer in the Reagan adminisration and an alumnus of WestPoint, inherited the house from his grandparents, who worked longhours as a governess and a waiter to afford the home. Harmon arguesthat the rent stablization laws amount to the government taking hisproperty without properly compensating him for it.
Harmon has taken to the Supreme Court because the lower courts,and even his assemblywoman, Linda B. Rosenthal, are fine with thecurrent regime. Rosenthal herself is quoted in the Timessounding a bit like an Occupy Wall Street devotee:
Ms. Rosenthal said Mr. Harmon had asked for an exception to rentregulations for his building, which she found untenable because itwould, she said, extend to thousands of other people in “thevanishing middle class.”
“I understand he thinks he could make more money, that he isbeing deprived,” she said. “But I have so many constituents whowould willingly trade his problems for theirs.”
As for luck, she said, Mr. Harmon was “lucky enough to inherit atown house.”
She said her views had nothing to do with the fact that shelives in a rent-regulated apartment, though she added, “If Ididn’t, I probably wouldn’t be representing tenants in thisdistrict because I couldn’t afford to live in the city.”
The chilling note here is that the assemblywoman appears unaware that we have a system by which hardworking parents can designate their belongings to children after their deaths. Ownership is ownership, regardless of the role of “luck.” But in this account, Harmon is just lucky to have had hardworking grandparents, and he himself is not entitled to keep what was legally transferred to him in a will. Assemblywoman Rosenthal, however, is arguing that she is entitled to her cheap rent because her political worldview demands that others make accommodations so she can do the job she likes.