Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Atlantic Yards: "Culture of Cheating" or an actual "crime"?

Michael D.D. White writes in Noticing New York:
Mr. Oder takes issue with whether Atlantic Yards can be technically described as a “crime,” suggesting that, more accurately, it is just part of the “culture of cheating,” the rubric under which Mr. Oder has been running a series of articles summing up how the mega-project has, across the board, been based upon strategies of deception and bad faith. But denying the crime here overlooks how the government, itself, was used as an instrument of theft which is, after all, the definition of“kleptocracy,” where a politically connected elite steal from the less advantaged.
Those keeping careful score as to what defines a “crime” will tell you that in these situations the real crime isn't what is technically illegal, it is what gets redefined as legal in order to permit such behavior. To give just two examples: That kind of redefining is what happened when the state and federal constitutional prohibitions on seizing private property for private benefit (including constitutional protections recently voted upon by New Yorkers) were rewritten out of existence by state agency skulduggery supported by judicial fiat (meaning that property that neighbor and senator Charles Schumer clearly knewwasn’t “blighted” was pretextually deemed to be so by collusive government officials so it could be taken by Ratner). And that kind ofscrapping of laws on the books is what happened when the MTA decided that it didn’t have to comply with recently enacted public authority reform legislation designed to prohibit its rigged deal with Ratner because it was sure no one was going to make them follow the law.
So the real crime is what gets defined as legal? I get his point, but Michael Kinsley famously observed that the real scandal in Washington is what's legal, not illegal.

So as long as "crime" retains an actual relation to the criminal code, I'll stick with "cheating."

No comments:

Post a Comment