Eyes wide open

April 1, 2009 2:18:15 PM PDT
Most of us learn about life's realities by shedding over time the illusions that form our innocence.

We start with our parents - godlike creatures that can do no wrong. Until life peels the onion layers off and we see -- gradually in the perfect world, but sometimes quite radically -- that our perfect parents are anything but.

Even the President of the United States must stand naked, to quote Bob Dylan.

This perfection-doesn't-exist learning process usually takes time, but sometimes unexpected events force us to leapfrog the organic, natural process, and face reality rather harshly.

The recession, for many, is that event.

What lots of people accepted as gospel turns out to be quicksand: The value of your house, or your retirement plan, or your job. All of it now seems rather shaky and anything but a sure bet.

And included in the no-one-has-the-answers reality of life in 2009 is the age-old debate about whether government or the private sector is better equipped to solve problems.

Clearly, neither is.

Leave it to business to deal with the recession? Helllllooooo? It was the ill-managed, short-sighted private sector that got us into this mess.

Have government bail everything out? Hi, again. Where was the government and its look-out-for-the-people regulators as the financial institutions turned housing, stocks, corporate earnings, and any commodity imaginable into a mathematical equation designed to get a tiny sliver of the population rich beyond belief?

No one has the answers. And perhaps drawing that conclusion means we've lost any semblance of innocence; but it also means our eyes are wide open.

It's difficult not to think all this as we watch the New York State government in action in Albany. No question, they're a tough row to hoe. It's not their fault that revenues are down. It's only partly their fault that there's a huge budget gap, estimated at nearly $16 billion (I say "partly" because hundreds of millions of expenditures are the pure-pork projects politicians like to bring home to their districts).

But it is entirely their fault for appearing to be directionless and clueless when it comes to figuring out how to deal with the deficit. And their secrecy flies in the face of what is supposed to be an open democratic process.

That process continues tonight in Albany, where our political reporter Dave Evans is watching lawmakers try to come up with a budget deal, and a way to bailout the troubled MTA. Is slapping a 50-cent surcharge on taxicabs the way to avoid hitting bus and subway riders with a large increase? Is that fair? (CLICK HERE to tell Eyewitness News what you think)

We'll have the latest, tonight at 11.

Also at 11, we're trying to get to the bottom of a story we reported last night - about a 7-year-old boy at a school in the Bronx who walked out of his school and was found about three miles away. How did he just walk out - especially because he was being "held" by administrators for getting in a fight?

And we're also looking at car sales - and all those new incentives some car companies are now offering. Our Tim Fleischer tonight takes a close look at buying a car: used or new? Big or large? Domestic or foreign? It's an enlightening report. (CLICK HERE to watch a preview)

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Lee Goldberg's AccuWeather forecast, and Scott Clark with the night's sports, including the retirement of long-time Yankee Stadium announcer Bob Sheppard.

I hope you can join Liz Cho and me, tonight at 11.

BILL RITTER


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