Friday, February 02, 2007

Barclays Redux

In today's NY Times the paper gets around to talking about the Barclays beef in the Atlantic Yards naming rights controversy. It begins to look more and more like we were correct when we observed that the moral outrage is more about politics and money. On the politics side the controversy allows the fight over the merits of the overall project to be kept alive in the public domain.

On the money side we have the acquisitive Roger Green who continues to use the controversy for a less noble purpose. As he told the Times, "At least as a point of negotiation...we should seek more." Similarly, newly elected assemblyman Jeffries opined that all options should remain open but "Barclays compensating the community for the wrongs" of the slave trade should be on the table.

Clearly, as is pointed out in the paper by Roger himself, if we excluded all of the companies that participated in the slave trade there would barely be a handful of firms left. Indeed, as an expert cited by the Times points out, the Barclays played a relatively minor role in the slave trade and anyone around in the 18Th century couldn't avoid having at least some tangential relationship-"either directly or indirectly"-to this economic reality.

So we would hope that the critics who have rushed into this whole dispute would take a deep breathe and realize that their remarks are tendentious, and are only designed to revive the dead horse that they have tried to ride in on. Like, Barbaro, however, they have been euthanized.