If I wanted to become a good golf or tennis player, I would take lessons from a successful pro rather than from another beginner. If I were having problems in my business or profession, I would seek the counsel of a proven success rather than one who has taken bankn1ptcy.
The trouble with the United States is that our financial head quarters is in New York City, our governmental headquarters is in Washington, D.C., and our news media are headquartered jointly in New York and Washington; but the record is clear that the governments of those cities are the most conspicuous failures in handling public money and guaranteeing personal safety.
A decade ago, New York City started on a reckless spending binge. In the make-believe world of liberal economics, government is a merry-go-round on which politicians can ride forever, singing the tune of special interests and spending borrowed money.
City expenditures for welfare, social services, and higher edu cation all quadrupled. The cost of welfare and social services rose from half a million dollars per year to two billion dollars. While Chicago maintains one municipal hospital, New York provides 19. Expenditures on colleges and universities, which charge no tuition to city residents, rose from $180 million per year to $612 million.
As budget deficits rose from $100 million in 1964 to $600 million this year, New York City kept borrowing from one group of creditors to pay back loans from others. As the ranks of lenders declined, New York issued “tax anticipation” notes in anticipation of taxes ·which had not yet been collected (and which some people thought might never be collected).
The joy ride ended when the banks refused to extend any more loans because New York City is such a poor credit risk. Mayor Abe Beame, a liberal Democrat, sees the fiscal crisis as a Republican plot because President Ford wisely refused to make the taxpayers in the rest of the country underwrite New York’s deficit spending.
New York and Washington e two of the highest crime areas in the United States. One recent dramatic example of the breakdown of law and order in our nation’s capital w s the use of an ice pick to put out a bystander’s eye, and other violence, in front of the Washington Monument during last month’s celebration of Human Kindness Day.
It is illogical to expect the solutions to today’s complex political and economic questions to come out of New York City or Washington, D.C. However, we are inhibited in our search for success models elsewhere by the fact that the national news media are them selves based in those very same cities.
The press corps in New York and Washington operates in an intellectual cloister which assumes that nearly everything of importance originates, happens, or is thought about, only east of the Hudson and the Potomac Rivers.
The financial clouds over New York City could have a silver lining if they caused our politicians, our businessmen, and above all our reporters to go west in their search for new solutions and new leaders.