(In the era of funny money - $1.5 mil got you this fixer-upper)
As California continues it's circle around the monetary drain, I was reminded of another fiscal crisis on the other side of the country. New York and the big default of 1975 - the one where President Ford all but said drop dead to Mayor Beame and his request for Federal bailout funds. Interesting times - they became something of a pattern for American cities during those years. New York, Cleveland, Detroit. And the offshoots - Prop 13 for California. The Savings and Loan Scandal. All potential crises, swept under the carpet of history and forgotten about.
I ran across this documentary, part of NPR's "Options" series called "Growing Economic Problems for U.S. Cities", which ran in September of 1975.
It features Mayors Abraham Beame of New York and Coleman Young of Detroit, along with Treasury Secretary William Simon and Senators Jacob Javits and Hubert Humphrey, all wrestling with the impending fiscal crisis.
New York City Comptroller Harrison Golden has an interesting take on it - I'm sure much of it echoes today.
“The politicians who developed the tricks and all of the devices that built in the seeds of disaster bear a measure of the blame. So does the media, the press which heralded those sleights of hand as representing mathematical ingenuity or fiscal wizardry. What all those steps were was delaying till tomorrow which should have been the problems on the day in which those tricks were used. The banks are to blame because they made money off of the devices that were developed. The citizens generally and businesses are to blame because they wanted a free lunch, wanted more service without paying for it. There’s plenty of responsibility, plenty of culpability to go around.“
Plenty of culpability. And plenty more now where that came from.