Thursday, July 17, 2008

Now That's Patriotism!

Since September 11, 2001, American citizens have been bludgeoned with demands to be Patriotic.

The crimes at the World Trade Canter and The Pentagon were called attacks on our freedom.

Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan was turned into a shrine to patriotism.

We were told to stand behind our President and do the patriotic thing: shop.

If we disagreed with anything, our patriotism was questioned.

The architectural plans for Ground Zero became a battleground to determine whose freedom was bigger than somebody else's freedom.

The buildings planned to replace the World Trade Center will surround a single building dubbed "Freedom Tower."

Billions of tax dollars are promised to private corporations who will restore our global power and might by erecting the structure.

Freedom Tower is a terrible plan, companies stopped moving to high floors of buildings in the early 1990s to save costs. Clients aren't interested in paying multi-million dollar rents for their lawyers, accountants, bankers and consultants. There is no demand in New York City for a hundred story building.

Of course, this huge useless building is supposed to represent our "freedom" and the taxpayers are expected to foot the bill, and some landlord will make the profits.

Still, if we are to be patriotic, then we must support this ridiculously wasteful building. To oppose the plans for Ground Zero would be unpatriotic. There is money to be made there, and a patriot exploits his freedom for profit!

So . . . we bumble along with a slimy landlord and a couple of quasi-governmental agencies all vying to be the ones to make the decision, get the glory, and snatch the money for themselves. They negotiate leases with huge corporations they would like to have as tenants.

These corporations are big patriots, of course! They support the president and they "support the troops" and they think the government should stay out of the way of patriots who are trying to earn a buck, and they think social welfare programs are unpatriotic, and they believe that a patriot would privatize his government, and they think government subsidies should be provided only to them.

So, most big corporations support the idea of the stupid "Freedom Tower" and watch as government funds are funnelled to private companies. They look on with approval because they know that they will get a slice of the pie, too. Eventually.

In order for our freedom to succeed and our patriotism to shine in Lower Manhattan, there will have to be tenants in the Freedom Tower. It's not very impressive if our "freedom" is represented by a big empty building. That might imply that all this freedom talk is hollow, like an empty building.

The World Trade Centers that stood at Ground Zero were filled with less-than-luxurious tenants. Most of the floors were rented, at amazingly low rents, for back-office operations. There just isn't demand for luxury offices at high prices, fifty stories in the air. People don't want to ride two or three elevators up to work or to see their attorney, and as I mentioned before, clients aren't interested in hiring a professional services company that wastes its money on rent for such ridiculous offices.

It's sad, but, there really isn't anyone interested in renting space in a huge tower in Lower Manhattan.

But, this is the Freedom Tower! Companies, like working-class stiffs who shopped to support the war, should put their bottom-line aside and be patriotic and support he Freedom Tower! Right?


Merrill Lynch has withdrawn from negotiations to relocate to the Freedom Tower.
After bargaining for months over tens of millions of dollars in concessions and tax breaks for a 71-story tower, Merrill said that it and its negotiation partners were "too far apart to continue the process," according to the Times.

Merrill Lynch ends World Trade Center talks-report

So, it's patriotic to support the stupid Freedom Tower only if you get tens of millions of dollars in concessions and tax breaks! But, if it's going to be good for American AND cost money, then Merrill Lynch can't be bothered!

Now that's patriotic!

In the end, perhaps Merrill's pull-out will be a wake-up call. The World Trade Centers that were taken down in the crimes of September 11, 2001, were albatrosses. They were relics of a past age when energy was cheap, and time and money were more plentiful.

Nobody in America is building like this anymore because there is no demand and it is grossly wasteful.

Perhaps we could go back to the drawing-board and design some buildings based on need and economy and environment and cost; buildings that are needed and can be afforded.

Don't hold your breath!

What? Aren't you a patriot?

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