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The global financial crisis began in Manhattan, and its effects are being felt far more strongly there than elsewhere. Mayor Michael Bloomberg says the situation is critical. Millions are fighting to keep their jobs. Is what is happening in New York today a harbinger of the fate of the rest of the world?
They still remember how things used to be. That's part of the problem. New York's heroes, the men and women who only yesterday considered themselves the knights and conquerors of Manhattan, remember all too well what New York was like in the 1970s -- the era before seven-figure salaries came to the Big Apple.
They remember -- and they see the signs. That's why they're afraid.
Cathy used to be a banker. Today she is homeless and living in Tompkins Square. She thinks about the heroin and the stench. In the 1970s, Cathy had a small apartment not far from here on Orchard Street. It was broken into three times. She remembers the burning cars and broken glass, the plumes of smoke and the cops who shouted "# you!" every time they lashed out.
The Christian Science Monitor summarized the challenges:
- Unbalanced economies. States that depend on a particular industry or two, such as automobiles or home construction, can be at greater risk in recession.
- Budgets out of kilter. The recession puts almost all states in a bind, but California, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin have a history of persistent shortfalls, the study said.
- Limited ability to act. In Arizona, California, Florida, Nevada and Oregon, the ability to raise taxes or cut spending is limited by their state constitutions, ballot measures passed by voters, or other legal impediments, the Pew researchers found.
- Putting off decisions. The study said that lawmakers "punted" responsibility in California, Illinois, and New Jersey. They passed responsibility to state voters or governors to make tough calls, or used borrowing or accounting methods to put off tough budget decisions.
"Punting" was the speciality of disgraced former Governor Rod Blagojevich of Illinois and his enablers. Remember that in 2010. New Jersey voters already sent their message.
The troubled 10 states comprise one-third of the nation's population.