New Deal for New York, the prize-winning historian Mike
Wallace focuses on the crisis precipitated by 9/11. He argues
that the disaster allows us to correct long-standing imbalances
that have made our economy especially vulnerable.
Over the past generation, New York City has become dependent
on the financial services sector. When Wall Street catches a
cold, the city economy and the governmental budget get pneumonia.
Mr. Wallace outlines how public policy contributed to the decline
of a once thriving manufacturing sector and how transportation
policy contributed to the decline of the seaport. He convincingly
argues that understanding this past is key to understanding
our current dilemma and outlines ways government can aid in
building a different kind of infrastructure to support a more
Mr. Wallace is also concerned about the kinds of jobs the city
has cultivated, even in boom years. The 1990s boom generated
only high-paying and low-paying jobs in abundance. He calls
for minimum wage and living wage legislation, laws making it
easier to unionize, Depression-era New Deal type programs like
the Works Progress Administration which created useful
work for the unemployed and programs to build affordable
Mr. Wallace also looks to the more recent past for solutions.
If the tax give-aways of the 1990s caused much of todays
budget gap, then more progessive taxation and restoring the
stock transfer tax could help rebuild our economy.
But while New York City is in crisis, the rest of the country
is also suffering, and federal action is needed. Mr. Wallace
argues that the country needs a new New Deal, building on the
best of the 1930s efforts. The place to begin is here in New
York City, where so many of the ideas of the original New Deal
bubbled up and were implemented.
This is a program and an agenda that could excite not only Democrats
but even some moderate Republicans in other states that are
also hurting from the recession.
Mr. Wallace is a fountain of new ideas based on the best of
the progressive tradition. To find out more, read this short
manifesto for change and log onto his Web site at www.gothamcenter.org
Ken Nash, DC 37 Education Fund Library,