Monday, November 30, 2009

Speculator Dies, Gets Canonized

Abe Pollin may not get a Rot In Hell Award, but that's because he's too insignificant to deserve hell. Purgatory will do. In any case, what's with stiletto sharp columnist Maureen Dowd of the New York Times canonizing a guy whose life was essentially devoted to real estate speculation?

He owned a basketball team -- because he was rich. He invested lots of money in downtown Washington, D.C. -- because he was rich. He started, too late to live to see it, an "affordable housing" project in the Third World section of Washington, D.C. -- because it assuaged his conscience concerning how he got rich.

As Balzac wrote, behind every fortune there is a crime. I haven't investigated into the details of Pollin's particular crimes, but I'm sure nothing of what he did was charity. He had fun being a basketball owner, he got his money back and then some from his "courageous investing," that's why it's called investment.

Oh, and after making millions for how many decades in the Washington area, did he decide to set aside a portion of the land he bought, on speculation, in Southeast Washington, where health, wealth and well-being indicators are closer to most developing failed states than the USA. And what tax breaks did he get from the deal?

The land in Southeast has been cheap for years while Pollin and his friends were buying it up in expectation of the planned development that a baseball stadium near the area would bring. With the best politicians money can buy, the land he bought for chump change is becoming quite valuable.

So, excuse me, but Abe Pollin was no saint. He was merely a speculator who got rich. I'm so tired of the hagiographies of shameless name-dropping sycophants such as Dowd.

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