New York City has turned in a disaster area for Coronavirus. It is overwhelmed with cases and hospitalizations – and it is overwhelmed because it simply wasn’t prepared. Let us pause for a moment and review some salient facts:
The 2020 fiscal year budget for New York City is $92.5 billion. That’s about $11,500.00 in government spending for each person in the city. That is quite a lot of money, don’t you think?
Prior to the crisis, an N95 mask could cost less than one dollar. One dollar. So, for 8 million dollars out of the 2020 budget, NYC could have provided a mask for every man, woman and child in the city. After spending that 8 million dollars, NYC would still have $92,492,000,000.00 left over. If you want to have your eyes glaze over, you can read the entire NYC budget – I went through it a bit and found millions of dollars being allocated for such crucial things as replacing the skylights in the Metropolitan Museum of Art and providing illegal immigrants funds to defend themselves against deportation.
In addition to that, the directory of New York City is handy for you to see what the city is up to – among many, many other things, they have:
NYC Mayor’s Office of Climate Policy and Programs
New York City Department of Cultural Affairs
Four different listings for housing departments
New York City Commission on Human Rights
New York City Loft Board
New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission
And on and on like that – and, rely on it, these things are staffed to the gills with people who make high salaries and get excellent health and retirement benefits. None of these things, though, provide a mask for a nurse working a Coronavirus ward. What is a city government supposed to do? Easy:
Maintain public thoroughfares.
Non-Police/Fire Emergency services.
That’s pretty much it. Anything beyond that isn’t necessary for the city to function. That you might want to have it do other things is all well and good, but the purpose of the city is those six things – and only after those six things are completely done do you have anything left over for additional wants. New York City – like most governments – has got this all backwards. They act as if their primary function is to provide economic opportunity, to end bigotry, to make art – to do just about anything but what the government is supposed to do. The city has been living in a world of make-believe – a world in which the bad things simply won’t happen and so the crucial things can be slighted in favor of fashionable vanities.
Coronavirus has changed that. The real world does, indeed, exist and it is very insistent that we deal with it.
I’m not here just to knock New York City – as worthwhile as that exercise is – but the whole attitude of a world which has been whistling past the graveyard. It isn’t, after all, New York City’s fault that it can’t just make masks in the city. New York used to be a manufacturing powerhouse…but various taxes, regulations and trade policies over the years moved that capacity out of New York. And out of the United States, of course.
What Coronavirus is teaching us is that we have to act like adults and do the important things – and only after the important things are done can we spare any thought or effort to other desires. We have to build back our manufacturing capacity. We must stockpile the necessary equipment for emergencies. We have to make sure our transportation system is durable. That our water supplies are secure. That, at need, we can live for an extended period of time without one thing coming in from outside the United States. In other words, we have to start being adults, again. Cruel as that might seem.
One of the crucial parts of getting back to reality is to directly ask the people in charge just what the heck did they think they were doing? DeBlasio can be raked over the coals – and should be – but he’s not the only one out there spending money trying to keep immigration laws from being enforced. He and a host of others – including many Republicans – have prioritized all sorts of useless garbage over the necessities of American survival. To put it as bluntly as I can: because our leaders have had us spending on trivialities, Americans are dead of the Coronavirus. It is that one for one here, guys: because if we had been as prepared as possible for this – and had acted like adults at the first sign of trouble – many people now dead would still be alive. And many who are going to die wouldn’t. The vanity project of having a green new deal in your home town might have produced a glowing editorial, but it also produced a corpse. Or dozen.
And we had better get serious about this soon – because Coronavirus, by all historical standards, is mild. This is the alarm in the middle of the night waking us up to the threat…and if we don’t take it seriously, then we will pay a very high price in blood.