New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio just announced the end of his quixotic run at the Presidency a run for which the only large supporter to “show love” with money was the New York hotel industry.

How might the Lefty Mayor and the capitalistic, red-in-tooth-and-claw, hotel industry have interests that coincide? What could possibly have united this odd couple?

Mayor de Blasio enacted a law they might as well have written against Airbnb. The law essentially treats over-staying Airbnb guests as legal residents entitled to squatters’ rights, which makes the property owner subject to NYC’s eviction laws. The courts are using their own expensive sloth and whimsical uncertainty as a deterrent: an Airbnb owner might not be allowed to live in his own residence for the 3-6 months the eviction takes! NYC would take the stable-owner to court for putting up Mary when she had Jesus.

While one has to have some sympathy for the hotel industry’s complaint that it is burdened by taxes and regulations not applied to Airbnb, the answer should be that the rise of Airbnb (if they are allowed) is evidence taxes and regulations are excessive, in that they stifle competition. Of course, throttling competition is what the incumbent industry wants, which explains its incredulous love-show of nearly a million dollars.

The hotel industry’s trade is good for the city. But it is only a small part of the interest in making money in the tourist industry. Theaters, restaurants, nightclubs, airlines, etc., all want a chance at that same money. Money made by Airbnb renters is also just as green. But the real ethical point is that they all should have an equal chance to sell their wares on an equal footing. A mayor has too big a thumb to be on the scale of any one against the many.

More Airbnb renting would also advance the cause of environmental “green-ness,” which gains through more efficient use of city spaces. Cities are the most environmentally friendly way of housing people. What could be more “green” than allowing what would normally be vacant city spaces to be shared? But to hear de Blasio on the stump, you’d think the urgency of climate change would trump all (no pun intended).

What is also concerning is the permanence of the law, which will be on the books after we are all planted in the earth, if history is any guide. So, not only do we have a bramble-tangle of laws created by elected lawmakers, we have to add in laws-as-POTUS-audition from the quixotically failed ones too. As a special bonus: we will need yet more lawyers than everyone else for breaking a trail through the thicket they make. All this, instead of requiring one industry to adapt to a new technology.

Technological change was once an issue for cobblestone carvers, cigar rollers and horse manure managers, too. They adapted their businesses to the new markets, or they moved on to something else. They threatened nobody when they changed, they left behind no permanent barriers to slow progress.

The tools needed to check-and-balance these innovations in graft need administering by those same graft-makers., which is also why politicians will go for “solutions” like these, when they might simply have made Airbnb eligible for the same taxes as the hotels. God forbid they should re-examine arcane safety regulations. That would help everyone in the city. But incumbents always like the regulations as they are.

Which is why impeachment and upholding the rule-of-law against politicians is as dysfunctional as is the rest of our political system. They are mutually exacerbating, for the same reason: the tribes control the use of the self-policing tools, the same way they manage the political process, which is why the tools are used only a means to their tribal warfare. Look no further than the current impeachment squabble, and marvel at the tribal-distortion-field that makes one side bray of crimes to the national security through neglect when its tribe is out of power, only to seamlessly switch positions when its party is in (HRC’s Email “server-gate,” vs Trumps’ “Russian-electoral-interference-gate.” FWIW, I’d impeach them all). Anyone wanting impeachment to be some on-the-level, rule-of-law bridge between what politicians do and what they should do, has not been paying attention to the way the tribes use the process.

Most concerning is that alternative ways of living are being made illegal. We can never see what new ways are workable. Trying and seeing will now have to get past the vetos of the tangle-lovers. In the age of Trump, how well is that working for us?

Eugene Darden Nicholas

About Eugene Darden Nicholas

Eugene Darden (Ed) Nicholas is from Flushing Queens, where he grew up sheltered from the hard world, learning the true things after graduating college and becoming a paramedic in Harlem. School continues to inform and entertain in all its true, Shakespearean glory. It's a lot of fun, really. In that career, dozens of people walk the earth now who would not be otherwise. (The number depends on how literally or figuratively you choose to add). He added a beloved wife to his little family, which is healthy. He is also well blessed in friends and colleagues.


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