Scoopy’s Notebook, Week of May 23, 2019

Waterfront warrior: We’re sad to report that former Village leader Ben Green died this past Friday at age 73. The cause of death was cancer. He had also suffered a serious heart attack more than 10 years ago. Green was the head of the Federation to Preserve the Greenwich Village Waterfront and Great Port, a group that was among the most outspoken and organized in opposing the creation of the Hudson River Park in the wake of Westway’s defeat. Above all, the Federation — many would say, presciently — feared the commercialization of the Lower West Side waterfront. Green was also well known as the chief of staff to legendary, long-serving local Assemblymember Bill Passannante. He was also a former chairperson of Community Board 2. At one point, Green was a member of the board of directors of Westbeth Artists Housing. His longtime home was at Christopher and Hudson Sts., in the large red-brick building, just west of the Lucille Lortel Theatre. We plan to have a more complete obituary in next week’s issue.

Andrew Yang in Washington Square Park on May 10. (Photo by Sue Brisk)

‘Human’ candidate: Enigmatic Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang was in Washington Square Park on May 10, where he continued his “Humanist First Tour.” He drew a crowd of about 2,500. Relying on the Internet to spread his message, Yang’s three main platforms are a “universal basic income,” Medicare for All and “human-centered capitalism,” which includes keeping robots from taking our jobs.

Free the weed — and free building: Veteran pot-legalization advocate Dana Beal tells us he has gotten the city to give him and his fellow Yippies a building — gratis — that they’ll use as a sort of museum to celebrate the “marijuana movement” and related issues and causes. Beal has really been bummed out in recent years after the Yippies lost 9 Bleecker St., their former H.Q. So, not surprisingly, this development has him on a (natural) high. His pal, Aton Edwards, an emergency-preparedness expert, told us the city gave them a book with info on 50 properties, and they’re looking them over. As for why, the city is willing to just give them a property, Beal said it’s all about boosting tourism.

One Response to Scoopy’s Notebook, Week of May 23, 2019

  1. Gavin R. Putland

    What's better than an unconditional Basic Income (BI) of $X/week? A punitive "vacancy tax" on vacant land and unoccupied buildings, which property owners are so keen to avoid that it *reduces rents* by $X/week. Why is this better? Because:
    (1) Nobody asks where the money is going to come from. (And the tax, in order to do its job, need not raise any revenue.)
    (2) By definition, the benefit of lower rents isn't competed away in higher rents — as a BI would be. (You don't see this problem with "pilot" basic incomes; but you *will* see it if the BI becomes universal.)
    (3) Avoidance of the tax generates job-creating activity. Moreover, if jobs are to be created, the employers must be able to afford business accommodation, and the employees must be able to afford housing within reach of their jobs on wages that the employers can pay. Lower rents therefore create jobs — reducing the need for a BI.
    (4) If the reduction in rents doesn't serve *all* the purposes of a BI, it reduces the size and cost of the BI needed to serve the remaining purposes.
    (5) The economic activity driven by a vacancy tax broadens the bases of other taxes, allowing their rates to be reduced — offsetting the tax impact of a BI, if you still want one!

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