Wednesday, May 17, 2017

How N.Y.'s Fiscal Crises of the '70s Has Shaped So Much Of Our Politics Today

Many of you may remember that back in the mid 70’s, the City of New York had fallen into a kind dystopian horror...crime and graffiti were rampant, social services and infrastructure were decayed and expectations of public services had come to be taken for granted.  It was more reminiscent of Batman’s Gotham than the shining city it is today.

Even as Gerald Ford told New York to “drop dead,” in October of 1975, the seeds were being planted for New York's gentrification. As Disney rose like the phoenix from Times Square, it was the early symbol that would ultimately and symbolically show the triumph of private enterprise shaping public good and public spaces.

In so doing, it set the stage for what would become the next forty years of American urban policy. The economic policies of the Reagan administration would come just a few years after New York's nadir, and would personify this new approach.  One that is still driving public policy today, and which in many ways has shaped some of the fundamental divides of class, wealth and power in this country.

Going back to ground zero in this battle is Kim Phillips Fein in her new book Fear City: New York's Fiscal Crisis and the Rise of Austerity Politics.

My conversation with Kim Phillips-Fein: