The dandies of the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board today blamed New York City compassion for the poor as part of the reason for Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s lousy response to the Great Blizzard of 2010.
Its editorialists huff that though NYC’s annual budget stands at $63B, it couldn’t afford the manpower and machinery to sweep the streets outside of the rarified districts of Manhattan clean.
The WSJ berates NYC for not having its priorities straight. Why not wield an ax at the programs that support the city’s poorest people, wonders the WSJ. Let them eat snow, indeed.
Rupert Murdoch's flagship grumbles: “The city has no fewer than 14,530 workers spending $8.4B on social services, up about $1B and 500 employees since 2007.”
Did the Journal miss the beginning of the Great Recession? I grew up with many friends whose families were dependent on the city's social safety net for their healthcare needs. They turned out to be productive citizens. Recently, I helped a down-on-his-luck friend deal with a NYC social service agency. The workers we had contact with were respectful, diligent and didn’t exactly come across as people living the high life.
And more WSJ egads: “There are 6,100 public employees working on environmental protection and another 12,100 at the housing authority, plus 6,400 devoted to ‘health and mental hygiene.’”
Bloomberg recently reported that New York Harbor is the cleanest that it has been in a century. I don’t hear a round of applause from the WSJ for NYC’s “green team.” And the Journal has the gumption to put health and hygiene in quotes, a move ridiculing the existence of a city agency that deals with new arrivals from all over the world.
The Dept. of Health and Mental Hygiene is getting the job done. It reported Dec. 29 that the city’s death rate and infant mortality rate fell to an all-time low. Despite an increase in overall population, incredibly 6,900 fewer New Yorkers died in 2009 than in 2002. NYC’s life expectancy held steady at 79.4 years, bucking the national life expectancy decline.
The Journal begrudgingly admits that city spending “doesn’t fully explain the snow-shovel breakdown, but they are illustrative of a city government that thinks it has a writ to do everything.”
During the past 125 years, caring for the poor has been the strength of New York. But throughout its history, the city has taken in immigrants, assimilated and readied them for the American Dream, which oftentimes played out elsewhere in the U.S.
WSJ editors take heed. Warmer temperatures are promised for the weekend. Snow melts. The needs of the poor remain.
NYC shines brightest when it serves that need.