How much is Citibank paying you to ride that bike around New York
and advertise for them?
How’s that? You’re doing it for free?! For cryin’ out loud, why?
It must be because you want to thank them and the other big banks for suckering you and your fellow taxpayers into bailing them out during the housing crisis. Right? Or you want to salute Citibank for failing to report $40 billion of subprime mortgage bonds and helping drive the country into a minor depression. Is that it?
Well…whatever your reasons might be, it seems like a pretty kooky thing to do. Selling access to valuable New York City public space just so a private corporation can splash its logo and its colors all over New York…that’s a pretty weird way to use public resources.
Some folks point out that the bank is helping to pay for the bike-share. According to the New York Times (see http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/08/nyregion/new-york-cycle-sharing-gets-a-name-citi-bike.html?_r=0), Citigroup will pay $41 million to be the “lead sponsor” for the bike-share for five years.
Let’s see…that’s about $8 million a year for a corporation that, according to its own annual report, made $7.5 billion in profits (or “net income”) just in 2012. That’s an expenditure of a little more than one-tenth of one percent of their profits for the year. For that, they get ad kiosks at some 300 bike docks all over the capital city of global finance. No wonder Mayor Bloomberg mixed up the word “Citibike” with the word “Citibank” several times, and told reporters: “That is very good for Citibank’s business…” Plus the bank gets a free workforce of about 42,000 daily riders huffing and puffing and spreading the glorious “Citi” logo all over town. Not bad!
But, hey…maybe there’s another approach. Maybe we, the people of New York, should give back to Citibank the money they’ve spent on the bikes—and then tax them for the same amount. Or for more. The city belongs to all of us, doesn’t it? So shouldn’t we democratically decide how to use our own valuable public resources? I think we should. And the bank’s directors will sleep better at night. Paying the tax will be one way of giving back some of the money they’ve stolen from us over the years. It’s a win-win situation!
Let’s take the idea one step further. We can hold a wide-open design contest for a new emblem for the bikes. The winning design, of course, will be the one that’s most popular with the public. Then we can paint over the Citibank bikes with the new emblem. The people’s choice. The Populist choice!
A bike-share is a great idea. So we mustn’t give it away to some gang of crooked bankers. Let’s not let the Godfathers of Finance take us for a ride ever again.
Go to KannForCouncil2013.WordPress.com for more information, and contact Jerry Kann at KannForCouncil2013@gmail.com to hear more about this and other issues facing New York.
And don’t forget to vote JERRY KANN, Populist Party candidate for New York City Council in District 22, Astoria, on Tuesday, November 5th.
Paid for by Kann for Council 2013.