Oct 08, 2020 Editorial
Kaieteur News – For decades New York has been a safe harbour for fleeing and hopeful Guyanese. The exodus has been going on so long and at such a heavy volume that there must be hundreds of thousands of locals, who left for the Big Apple and now call it their first home. Now the atmosphere of that once teeming place, that immigrant bastion, is largely dismal and broadly negative.
The evidence from all around – most sections and neighbourhoods – is of a war zone under heavy fire, of opportunist criminals and politicians adding to the ruins, of leadership failures at many levels, and of a once vast and vital environment in the throes of a seeming death spiral. There was the sustained and remorseless battering from the COVID-19 pandemic that just about shut down the economic engines of the five boroughs that make up the City, including glittering Manhattan. In conjunction with the viral, the human in the form of chaotic protests and generalized paralysis introduced a second nail into the coffin and has left it all but dead on its feet.
One proud New Yorker, a former hedge fund manager and bestselling author, said that New York City is ‘dead forever’ (Market Watch, August 17, 2020). Between March and May of this year, at the height of the pandemic, upwards of 400,000 residents fled. Vacant apartments are at a record number and most New York City offices are closed, with downsizing on the cards. The agonizing question, never before imagined or faced, that residents ask of themselves now is this: “Is New York City worth it anymore?” The more relevant question that Guyanese living there, or heading there is this one: is it worth staying there or going anymore?
The jobs have dried up, quality of life has faded rapidly, and the overall energizing culture of the greatest city in America is shattered and scattered all over the place. For it was the same depressing story coming out of the New York Post on August 2, where the caption conveyed where people are: “Business leader say wealthy New Yorkers don’t want to come back’ to the city.” According to the New York Post, “The top one-percent of earners account for 40 percent of New York state revenue.” If those folks have little desire to work and play (theater, restaurants, nightlife) in New York City, the erosion of the tax base is sure to ripple furiously outward and impact many communities in many ways.
With existing budget deficits already burdening, the departure of wealthy taxpaying citizens could sound the death knell a place that was, at one time, thought to be unconquerable and immortal. With this as context, it is exasperating that the kind of decisive and timely leadership so vital in circumstances such as these is conspicuously missing. Political leaders curse each other and fight among themselves, from the mayor and governor, and then both of them exchanging frequent bitter barbs with the current occupant of the White House. As if not wishing to be left out, the influential City Council is fragmented, the NYPD is at war with its civil and political detractors, and nobody is in charge. This is not helping anyone, especially those who most need authoritative leadership in the crises facing residents.
Crime is out of control, the economy is severely depressed, businesses are shuttered, and many are out of work, with no relief coming from any quarter on any draining issue. The man in the White House, who has been called every dirty name in the book, was proud to conclude that New York City is a ‘ghost town.’ That certainly further depletes flagging spirits but is a sampling of wisdom from ranking politicians.
Separately, the ultra-leftists and limousine liberals awake and find the homeless in their neighbourhoods and, worse yet, right at their doorstep, and the response is: not in this backyard! Reality collides with ‘not in my backyard (NIMBY). From their perspective and visions of pristine Manhattan, the barbarians, vandals and Visigoths are inside the gates and now overrun everything held dear.
This is the scarred and worn-down battlefield in which Guyanese live and where locals plan to go. Suddenly, right here looks like the better option.
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