Every morning, public radio station WNYE switches from its overnight broadcasts of the BBC at 6 am, and starts its local, New York oriented programming. The first service announcement usually runs something like this.
Hello. I'm Bill Thompson, City Comptroller. Every year, phony lawsuits cost the City of New York tens of millions of dollars a year. That's money that can be spent on schools, roads and sanitation. If you know someone who's falsely suing the City of New York, please call the NYC Fraud Hotline on (212) 669-4747...
It's generally followed by a PSA that asks New Yorkers to join the Parks Volunteer programme. Public spirited citizens can volunteer to rake leaves, pick up trash, or tend garden beds, among other things. Because it's like your own backyard, the Parks Commissioner concludes.
Does this sound like a city that has its fiscal act together? I pay New York City sales tax, and income tax. Enough to pay somone to rake up the goddamned leaves, I would have thought.
It really makes me miss Tokyo; a larger, denser, more complex city, but one that runs like clockwork. I look forward to Germany, which, I assume, manages its cities with similar efficiency. Why can't Americans?