Monday, November 2, 2009

Reverse Political Psychology

So I've been reading today about how Bloomberg has hinged his campaign spending on the fact that he needs to burn 35K a minute to get his message out. I've also read that his lawyers have explained that a "level playing field" is no rationale to curb spending because the Mayor has a First Amendment right to put his money where his mouth is by spreading the word about his run. I'm also reminded that the reason this third term was necessary because we need him to keep the city from falling into ruin.

Most of these argument remind me of the plight of the orphan who kills his parents but cries he is alone. If we agree and give the Mayor credit for what he's accomplished in the last 8 years, the city indeed has not fallen into ruin but the diverse middle class has. We have pulverized and berated and pounded the already sheepish City Council into acquiecence on cuts to libraries and senior centers yet think nothing of no bid contracts to the growing hoard of consultants. We chastized older workers as "uninspired" and "dead wood" yet applaud the acumen of younger workers who have never held real jobs before being annointed consultants. We buy the fact that the city is in considerably better shape despite the record double digit unemployment rate and migration of the middle class out of Gotham. We applaud developers for erecting gleaming skyscrapers yet do little to retain affordable housing stock. We call Obama "poor" despite his six figure salary and retrain unfortunate stockbrokers who are out of jobs.

Fundamentally I wonder how well did the city really fare in the last 8 years. Did cranes fall out of the sky under Rudy's watch? Did firefighters perish because nobody bothered to file evacuation plans for a building destined for demolition? Would Koch or Dinkins have opposed Superfund money for the Gowanus Canal because such a classification would scare off developers? Are we ignoring the realities of today's city in a similar way? If we refuse to acknowledge that everything isn't so grand about our quality of life today are we being honest? Or is it better to insist that it is since anything less means we have compromised our own system of values? Is it better to pretend that today's city is more inclusive? Or do we just tell ourselves that it is?

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