Freedom Finger

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I see in the Wall Street Journal, May 2, that the silvery skyscraper planned for the site of the Sept. 11 attacks in New York City may be filled in large part by federal security agencies, including Customs, Immigration, and the FBI. Why do government officials need to be in such a fancy building? They don’t. But building it is a political decision, and it may take political support to fill enough of it to finance its construction.

The private sector is not so eager to fill it. One of the reasons now cited is that a lot of people don’t want to be down the hall from the FBI, Customs, et al. That may be so – and it may also be easier to say that to a newspaper reporter than to say they don’t want to get blown up.

There is a school of belligerent anti-terrorists, especially certain Objectivists, who are hot for replacing the Twin Towers with the tallest, starkest stainless-steel middle finger possible, to extend an unmistakable message to the enemies of civilization. That is what is being done: the building is to be called the “Freedom Tower” and it is to be 1,776 feet high. I think these folks are following their emotions rather than their reason, which ought to tell them that this building has a special risk attached to no other office building in New York City. And the flashier they make it, the more difficult it will be to underwrite life insurance on the tenants. I wouldn’t rent space in that building, and I wouldn’t invest in it either.

Private tenants can make that decision; they don’t have to prove anything. The government does.

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