As if January and February weren’t difficult enough, the general public is subjected to the annual “State-of-the-Something” speeches by politicians.
Speech Season usually gets started with the governor’s performance in the “State of the State” address. Once again, the governor assured that New York State is getting better, recovering from the economic downturn and the future looks good.
In New York City, the mayor generally provides a sunny-sideof the-street rendition of what’s happening in the Big Apple in the “State of the City” address. In recent years, the City Council speaker and the comptroller have also shared in the optimism with their own “State of …” speeches.
Even each borough president gets in on the action with “State of the Borough” addresses in which residents are told that their borough is getting better, jobs have increased, and things are looking up.
The crown jewel of Speech Season is the “State of the Union,” delivered by the president before every member of Congress and every major official in government. In good times and bad, the president always seems to find a way to tell us that the things are getting better, the statements punctuated by hearty applause from the other politicians.
There is a lot of talk in Washington, in Albany and in City Hall. But what really is the state of our union, our state and our city? If the housing market in the city is any indication, things aren’t as rosy as we are told.
Foreclosures jumped 19 percent in New York City and 164 percent in Queens in 2012 versus 2011. A great deal of the blame for this breakdown in the housing market can be blamed on unemployment and includes couples of whom one spouse loses a job and the only replacement is part-time work for lower pay. In two-family houses, owners fall behind on mortgage payments when their tenants lose their jobs and cannot pay the rent.
Homeowners are not only falling behind on their mortgages, but also their water bills and property taxes. The proof of that was in the 118-page single-spaced print out in the New York Daily News this week that listed page after page of properties in each borough which have liens attached for outstanding debts. Unresolved liens will be sold to private debt collectors in the spring, and those companies will seek foreclosure or other legal actions.
Jobs was a big theme in this year’s “State of …” addresses. Except for some public work projects, there wasn’t much substance on how to jump start the private sector market.
It is work that greases the engine of economics and maximizes a person’s capacity to achieve economic self-reliance, and this is what allows them to buy and keep houses. So far, the promise of green energy employment falls short of being the panacea for economic revival.
There’s talk of new gun control bills and immigration reform, but if the recent inaction of Congress is any indication, those ideas will spin in and out of Capitol Hill for years without ever being properly addressed.
Everybody talks about lofty goals toward remediating longstanding problems in our world, but too often, their words are never followed up with proper action. How refreshing it would be if politicians would do more and speak less about what they say they are going to do.