Thursday, October 01, 2009

Tale of Two Cities

Albor Ruiz has an interesting look today at the other New York-you know, the one that Mike Doesn't see that clearly as he motors around in his chauffeured limo or SUV: "Is New York the greatest city in the world? Without a doubt, it is for some. Although for hundreds of thousands of its residents, who seem to survive only by the grace of God in the most expensive city in the country, it may be difficult to give their hometown the thumbs up. New York is a place of startling contrasts and deep disparities."

The poverty levels are startling-and have escalated in the past eight years: "More than 1.5 million New Yorkers (or as the New York Coalition Against Hunger puts it, enough to fill Yankee Stadium 25 times over) lived in poverty last year, the study shows. This, before the full impact of the economic downturn hit the city. More worrisome, the report confirms what many New Yorkers already knew: Poverty in the city and the state has been growing by leaps and bounds over the last few years. Actually, as hard as it may be to believe, more than 125,000 city residents last year had to survive on an annual income below the meager federal poverty line of $17,660 - about $340 a week - than in 2000."

And on top of this bleak outlook, the city's unemployment rate is now at record levels-making the increasing poverty rate even more challenging to overcome. But the answer here lies not-what a nice turn of phrase-with the Bloomberg propaganda machine's incessant drivel about five borough plans and middle class uplift. The way out is through real economic growth, something that both the Wall Street cohort down at city hall, and their partisans opponents of the WFP fail to grasp.

On the one hand we get big real estate aggrandizement at the expense of local businesses-to wit, the travesty at Willets Point where 2500 workers are facing eviction and the loss of their jobs for a pie-in-the=sky development pipe dream. On the other we get the equally deleterious WFP-driven "tax the wealthy" crowd-seeking to increase the size of local government and tax their way to prosperity.

Talk about a Hobson's choice! And, as Steve Malanga wonders today in the NY Post, who will speak for the middle class New Yorkers? While doing so, over at the NY Daily News, Errol Louis seems to luxuriate in the prospects of the return of the Dinkens coalition, the same one that has led the Democrats into mayoral exile for the past sixteen years. It may, as Louis indicates, be the rise of a true minority-led coalition for a new politics-but in our view, it simply bodes a back to the future for New York that will have little to offer in the way of positive solutions for the city.

So, here we are, caught between a rock and a hard place-with the likelihood of a ultra-liberal mayor with the heart of an accountant pitted against folks for whom business is all too often simply a piñata for the latest government spending scheme. Make no mistake about it, NYC is in for some very rough sailing over the next few years, with all of our putative problem solvers handicapped by their own unique trained incapacities.

But have no fear-because Mike Bloomberg is geared up-fired up, you might say-to tackle these serious issues in the years ahead. How so? He's ready to stop people from smoking in the parks. All New Yorkers, but especially tose out of work, can now rest easy, the city is in really good hands.