Streetview of New York City

Economy Inequity

            Brooklyn          In one of the performative episodes in the divided Congress, two or three might still remember some of the yahoos thought that they would embarrass somebody by having hearings in New York City about crime.  Yawn.  Anyway, Ohio’s raging Jim Jordan’s big blurb that made news everywhere is that his big reveal on crime in the city was the fact that his cabdriver told him so.  Really.  That was his big expert opinion.  I hope you’re with me still.

We ended up in an Uber, god save us.  New York City doesn’t play and actually regulates them, requiring a minimum wage for their time on the road that is more than $18 an hour, so it’s possible to rationalize the ride.  Since cabbies are now the experts on the city, and we were going to be a captive audience for some time, I thought I would get his street view of current conditions.

He had a flag from Ghana on the windshield, so that was my opener.  He was from Accra, the megacity that also serves as the capital of the country.  My knowledge was limited.  I had changed planes once there while transferring from Nairobi to Lagos, so we could share stories about airport chaos.  He had a PhD in economics and had come to the United States on an athletic scholarship to play soccer for the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa.  He had a positive view of the economic stability of his home country in its previous administration, but under the current government felt that inflation had gone out of control and corruption was now ubiquitous.  He went back to Ghana several times a year, but he had been in the US for more than twenty years now, and felt there was no use for his degree in Ghana or future for him there.

When it came to New York City, his view was less positive, not because of crime, but because of racism.  He felt spoiled by the friendliness of the Alabama and the South, the openness of neighbors, and the greetings on the street.  He had a nephew in a Houston suburb, and was planning a move there.  His nephew had a giant house in Richmond with a mortgage hardly one-thousand per month, while he was paying twice them for rent in the outer borough.  The cost of living was just too much.  The inequity was unbelievable to him.  Driving through Brooklyn, he couldn’t believe the new construction, the giant condo skyscrapers, and more.  Neither could I.

Crime never entered the conversation.   It was all about the money.  Maybe it’s not a question of who you’re talking to, but whether or not you’re really willing to listen to what they’re saying.