Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Economy Hits Home - Empire Falls

Good Morning America apparently is doing a "Whistle Stop" series across the U.S. They recently visited Rome, New York. City officials are NOT happy, according to today's newspaper story in the O-D (that's Observer-Dispatch, BTW). They are responding to this briefest of video clips from GMA. (Haven't heard such outrage at a media portrayal since -- yesterday, when Cindy McCain dissed The View - see CNN).

Seriously, I think the initial comments section of the O-D sums it all up well. One points out:
Sad part of all of this is, it's not just Rome it is the whole area. Open your eyes and drive around the area it is depressed runned down and basically every third house is for sale. Utica has literally become a dumping ground for refugees since 1990's. Herkimer County lost all their manufacturing as well as Oneida County, over regulative state government with all the overburdening laws and taxes has chased many away. There isn't too much that is positive. You can't blame Good Morning America for the troubles we face. If it is any consolation we can slightly point our finger of blame at NAFTA and Government regulations, and high taxes.

What is amazing now is the whole country is starting to feel just like we all have been through for the past 25 years.
The situation regarding taxes and regulations may be more complex than that, the bottomline is that this is everyday reality for us.

Not long after I first moved here in 2001 I went to Rome (church event, cross country race?). I got lost downtown where several roads meet together in the center near the Fort Stanwix monument (recalling its role in the infamous Battle of Oriskany). No place around here is a model for a booming economy, but Rome struck me as one of the most depressing places I've ever visited -- areas with vacant homes boarded up, debris in places, no constraints on commercial signs or development that I could see. While there are certainly similar looking areas in Utica, Rome is different in that some properties were vacated after the air force base left rather than part of a long-term decline of inner-city neighborhoods.

In any event, this is the reality both our politicians and our church leaders need to confront. Grabbing earmark government money here and there for local pet projects is not going to fix things. Nor is pretending that local parishes are not struggling, being very short on people, money, and sound buildings, for reasons that have nothing to do with church politics, theology, or anything but local conditions.

Bottomline, whether you live in Wasilla, AK or Rome, NY or Washington D.C., we all need the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

1 comment:

FranIAm said...

I always forget that you live there. The whistle stop was here in Albany, at the Amtrak station too.

Central NY has taken it very hard; I've not seen Rome since I was in college 30 years ago, when I but passed through.

So sad to think of how cheap talk is and how action is rare to follow.