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Why NY’s Budget Problems are Relevant

New York likes to consider itself a capital of culture and one of the nation’s shining lights.  Unfortunately, now it’s becoming the capital of a new kind of culture – the deadbeat culture.

New York can’t pay its bills.

new york city

The state legislature, facing a statewide shutdown of critical public services, has been attempting to respond to budgetary pressures.  The budget must be balanced, but no one wants to be the bogeyman who gives cherished programs – or trash collection – the final cut.  Instead, the state legislature spent 11 weeks on emergency budget extensions, working their way up to a still-not-balanced budget partially vetoed by the governor’s office.

The rest of the country better pay attention.

New York isn’t the only state facing a major budget crisis.  Shutdowns of public services have been popping up throughout the country.  Rest stops shut down here.  Library hours reduced there.  Welfare cutbacks, food bank reductions, and quiet, but firm, denials of local services residents have always assumed would be available are prevalent.  While there’s not panic in the streets yet, there will be.

Though the federal budget issues make the front pages, state and local service denials actually present bigger problems for the average citizen.  Americans rely on their local police forces, local schools, and local government offices to ensure the smooth passage of one day into the next.  A failure in the daily touch points – especially over a prolonged period – causes civic disarray.

Much of this disarray is being swept under the carpet.  In the eyes of the media, it’s just not that newsworthy compared to other major disasters.  However, the little cracks in the foundations of the system are definitely present.

It may not be the big disaster – a war, oil spill, or stock market plunge – that ultimately unravels the daily institutions that surround us.  Inch by inch, service by service, local shutdowns push Americans out of the mainstream support grid and back out on their own.  Those who see it coming can be prepared, or at least make the smartest choices possible given their personal situations.  Those who are distracted by the “big news” will miss the rug being pulled out from under their feet.

For this reason, despite all the name calling and political pandering going on in New York, the events there are worth watching.  Even in a race for the gutter, New York is a cultural leader – one other states and cities would be wise not to emulate.

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