City Journal: The Cost of New York

In the City Journal, Steven Malanga highlights New York’s startling costs and explores why our state is so expensive for residents and businesses.

From its arcane regulatory regime to the nosebleed taxes and fees it imposes on firms and individuals—usually amplifying similar measures radiating out from the state government in Albany—New York City government drives up the cost of living and working in the city dramatically, making it harder for ordinary New Yorkers to get ahead.

And what is one of the major cost drivers? You guessed it: the Scaffold Law.

New York’s local and state elected officials also write laws and codes that curry favor with various special interests with a financial stake in development, raising prices higher still. Litigation-friendly New York State makes it easy to sue builders and developers, for instance, which benefits construction-worker unions and trial lawyers, two powerful Albany lobbies, but makes insurance on the construction of an apartment building as much as 8 percent to 10 percent of total costs—twice the national average. The Scaffold Law may be the most striking example of this kind of legislation. Unique in the country, it mandates that a developer or contractor is completely liable if an employee gets injured on a job site, even if worker negligence played a role. Even workers found to be drunk on the job have won big judgments.

Read the full article here

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