Sunday, April 20, 2003

I found the front page of this past Friday's New York Times interesting. Above the fold on page one, it was Bushism triumphant -- the four headlines starting at the rightmost column and working left were U.S. GIVES BECHTEL A MAJOR CONTRACT IN REBUILDING IRAQ; U.S. CAPTURES A HALF BROTHER OF IRAQI CHIEF; TRAINED FOR WAR, 12 GREEN BERETS KEEP THE PEACE IN AN IRAQI TOWN; AIRLINE PILOTS SET TO CARRY FIREARMS. Below the fold, by contrast, was this:

Once Just Threats, Cutbacks Sink in Among New Yorkers

For many New Yorkers, the budget blues have come on slowly, like a bad, unkickable cold that finally becomes a miserable sinus infection. A street on Staten Island looks a bit dirtier; an Upper West Side subway station seems to have a few more homeless people.

It is as if people are already starting to see their city crumble ever so slightly — even when statistics defy their perceptions — because they finally believe government when it says that it is out of money. The mayor's budget, which he released on Tuesday, portrays a city where firehouses would close, where teachers would lose their classroom assistants and where there would be far fewer places to take children come next summer.

Hearing about the privation on the horizon, many people seem to think it has already arrived, and they are starting to debate in earnest how the city's fiscal problem should be solved.

"There were predictions of these things a year ago," said Lee Goldman, 75, who lives in Brooklyn Heights. "But it seems to have become stronger. I have a sense that there has been a decline in services, especially in safety. From what I hear, the public schools are terrible. I guess I need to listen more."...

No, we're not in the Soviet Union yet, but it feels a bit as if we're heading that way, crushing little countries with our military might as we gradually go broke.

Oh, and here's another tidbit that was in Friday's Times, in a story titled "Boom Times for Repo Guys":

At Ford Credit, the financing arm of Ford Motor, the number of loans that require repossession has jumped 30 percent in the last three years, to almost 200,000 cars last year. And at the auto lender AmeriCredit, that number has jumped from 3.6 percent of total loans in 2000, to 5.8 percent in 2002 and an expected 7.9 percent the first half of 2003.

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