Bill Clinton and the Economy

Bill Clinton won the 1992 Presidential campaign mainly due to the fact that George Bush Sr. focused mainly on foreign affairs and neglected the problems at home. Bush Sr. was seen to be an elitist politician, far removed from the everyday struggles of regular American Citizens. Clinton focused mainly on the economy and the problems at home. When he came to office he realized that he was very disillusioned as to where the actual power of the United States was centered.  As a candidate Clinton wanted to focus mainly on “investment in infrastructure, worker training, and job creations”. By the time he became President he did not realize that he appointed to many advisers to his staff that favored the private sector. People like Robert Rubin(co-head of Goldman Sachs) convinced Clinton to look at the financial problem in a different way. Instead of creating tax cuts and other stimulus programs, that were aimed at reducing unemployment, Clinton was convinced to help reduce the fiscal deficit.  In reducing the deficit and reducing federal borrowing requirements he created a highly favorable environment for the bond brokers on Wall Street. Besides that Clinton also helped to create free trade treaties with other countries and greatly reduced tariffs on imports. In doing so he greatly open other countries of the world to U.S. investment. This last part is what ties into the movie Dirty Wars. By helping to produce an environment for great growth of Wall Street investments in other regions of the world, such as for example the middle east, he opened a flood gate for violence and terror. In order to protect their investments in the developing world, large corporations began to employ their own private armies such as the Black Water security company. These mercenaries had no moral obligation to the United States people nor were hindered by any patriotic ideals. They simply went out and did what they were told to do in order to secure their paycheck.

Empire State of Mind

When this song came out it had a strong resonance with me. It epitomized the city that I grew up in. The rhythmic steady beats symbolize the beating pulse of New York, the city that never sleeps. There is always something going on. In the first verse of the song Jay-Z talks about coming up from poverty in Brooklyn to heights of fame. This probably is what every New Yorker strives towards. People come from all over the world to try to make something of themselves here. “If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere”. This line shows that the city is big and blinding and you have exactly the same chance of making it here as well as losing everything in the process. The most important message of the song, for me at least, is that even if you’re down and out of luck, and nothing seems to be going your way, the city can lift you up and inspire you to go on. I really like the line “New York, concrete jungle where dreams are made of
There’s nothin’ you can’t do, Now you’re in New York, These streets will make you feel brand new, Big lights will inspire you, Let’s hear it for New York, New York, New York”

WIN “Whip Stagflation Now”

WIN or “Whip Stagflation Now” was a program that was introduced by President Ford in order to battle “stagflation.” Stagflation was a very new challenge imposed on the policy makers of Ford’s administration. The problem did not fit any of the Keynesian solutions that helped to stabilize the economy in the past. Both unemployment and inflation were on the rise. The reason that policy makers had a great problem with this is that in the past unemployment and inflation seemed to be reciprocal to each other. As one rose the other one dropped.

President Ford believed that inflation was the main  reason for economic decay. He wanted to cut spending on federal programs. he wanted the public to cut spending as well. More precisely he wanted the public to spend 5% less on food and 5% less on driving expenditures. Ford tried to institute the WIN program. He tried to mimic it after Roosevelt’s New Deal Program. In 1974, after his address to the Congress, he pinned a WIN pin to his lapel. Through this program, Ford wanted to “decrease federal regulation of the economy and use public mobilization as a substitute for state intervention”. Although mimicking the New Deal Program, this WIN program was completely opposite. Ford put to much trust into the hands of the public and their ability to help the spiraling economy. The result was a complete failure.

The Congress rejected all of Ford’s proposals and instead went a different route. Members of the Congress had very strong ties to the labor unions and their constituents than to a healthy economic system. That is why in 1974 they went with another program that was aimed at combatting unemployment instead of inflation.

Robert Moses and the Cross-Bronx Expressway

home_southbronx Aerial_view_of_the_Bronx,_Harlem_River,_Harlem,_Hudson_River,_George_Washington_Bridge,_2008-05-10

Robert Moses was considered the most “powerful modern builder of all time”. He was know especially for the building of the Cross-Bronx Expressway. This highway connected New Jersey, North Manhattan, South Bronx and ended up in in Long Island through wither either the Throgs-Neck Bridge or the Whitestone Bridge. The building of this new highway system meant that over 60,000 residents would have to be uprooted and relocated to new areas. Most of these people lived in South Bronx. Moses led the white exodus out of the Bronx. Most of the white residents moved to either Westchester or Northern Bronx areas and other moved to small suburban houses being built around the Cross Bronx Expressway in New Jersey. The poorer residents who where given a meager $200 per room compensation were forced to move out and settle in new high-rise apartment buildings that were being built. These new behemoths had could include up to 1700 apartments per building.

As a result of this mass relocation the economy of the Bronx suffered immensely. The South Bronx area lost over 600,000 manufacturing jobs. Youth unemployment rose to 40 percent and in some areas as high as 80 percent. The most devastating affect of the Cross Bronx Expressway took place when the newly built apartment buildings passed into the hands of slumlords. These people used many different tactics such as demanding more money when they shut off heat and water supply to the tenants. Another tactic that the slumlords used proved to be the most effective and profitable for them. They would find junkies and rent-a-thugs to set fire to abandoned apartments and then they would collect the insurance polices from the city. The slumlords profited greatly from this enterprise as they collected as much as 150,000 dollars per fire. The insurance companies didn’t really mind in the begging as they were leasing out many new insurance policies, but after a time even they realized that their costs were beginning to get to high. In the end as insurance companies refused to provide insurance policies to cover certain buildings in South Bronx and the fires continued to spread, whole city blocks became completely abandoned and opened up a place for crime and gangs to fill the void.