Tuesday, February 8, 2011


A couple of years ago I blogged about a book called The Works which looked at the "anatomy" of NYC -- where our electricity and water come from, where our trash goes, how our traffic and pedestrians move around the city, etc. While reading it, I could only think of what Mr Spock would have said: "Fascinating." Fascinating because there are whole worlds that exist within this city that we never see but vital to our security and way of life. 

Recently I read a couple of new articles that also got me thinking in a similar vein. And, again, Spock's voice rang in my head. 

This month the Atlantic has a tremendous article about how the Secret Service operates in this town during the UN General Assembly. If the expression "the weight of the world on their shoulders" was ever apt, it's for the US Secret Service which converges on NYC each fall when the General Assembly meets. They are responsible for the safety of every single world leader who comes to town including, as profiled in this article, that nutty President of Iran. Considering that NYC is a perennial terrorist target, along with the challenges of shepherding all of the worlds' CEOs around a crowded town, it's amazing to read about what these people do to keep not only these powerful people but also all of us safe. Something they do -- but that we never see.

Then there's another reality in this city that we all live in but almost never see: the economic reality of NYC. In America, as we know, the distribution of wealth, the gap between rich and poor, has never been larger. NYC is just like America, only more so, and the gap between rich and poor in this city is even larger than the national average. In his final piece for the Village Voice, Tom Robbins crunches the numbers and paints a devastating picture, not only of the gross economic disparities in this town, but of the political class in this city and state that serves to protect the elite at the expense of the poor. Republicans and Democrats have done everything they can to short shrift city workers, cut social services, underfund our schools, decimate the unions -- while giving tax breaks to the rich. Robbins writes about a corporate group called "The Committee to Save New York" which is run by a bunch of rich people. One of the members of this organization, which claims it wants to "save" our great city, is Rob Speyer -- yes, a Speyer of Tischman-Speyer which was responsible for the biggest real estate debacle in this (or any) city's history. Yes, this same man believes he is qualified to "save" New York. Did you know that? Well now you do.


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