BEHIND THE NEWS: Anger and money

November 20, 2008 1:49:01 PM PST
I'm no psychologist, and I'm no gambler, but I'd wager that we're going to see a whole lot more angry people out there soon. How could it be otherwise?

Money is the reason. Or the lack of it.

We know that recessions bring depression - and we're talking psychology not economics. A couple of weeks ago I talked about the smell of fear out there; tonight the talk is about the walls closing in.

If you live or work in New York, in addition to the tough times and the elimination of jobs, you're also now dealing with the prospect of increased fares and tolls for buses, subways and bridges; and the elimination of the $400 property tax rebate that many people have grown accustomed to.

It's the nickel and diming that gets to people, although a $400 rebate isn't chump change, and the 50-cent subway increase adds up to a healthy sum as well over the course of a year.

So the little folks end up paying for the mistakes and bad decisions of the big shots.

I know that's a simplistic axiom, but there's truth in simplistic axioms.

When times were good, Mayor Bloomberg chose to rebate the $400 rather than save the money for a budgetary rainy day. Back then, when money was flush, New Yorkers might have gotten along without the rebate.

But now that times are tough, many people have grown accustomed to the extra dough, but the City doesn't have the money, so the Mayor wants to withhold the rebate. The City Council is furious and is fighting him-- and many are asking, wait a minute, THIS is the guy some people thought was the ONLY person who could help New York navigate the recession?

I'm no MBA from Harvard, but it seems just good business sense to save some money when times are good so that when times get tough you have a cushion. But I'm sure Mayor Bloomberg knows much more about this stuff than I do.

The other bit of economic news is the MTA making official what everyone seemed to know anyway: the agency's in trouble and, because New York State is also drowning in red ink and is unlikely to help the MTA, the only way to raise money is to charge passengers more and cut services.

Welcome to the New York Subway system.

We'll have the latest on the proposed fare hikes, tonight at 11.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Lee Goldberg's AccuWeather forecast, and Scott Clark with the night's sports. I hope you can join Liz Cho and me, tonight at 11.