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Wake-up call

Billionaires and grave worms


During the time between two beats of a world-class sprinter's racing heart, former Mayor Michael Bloomberg's net worth compounds to a dollar amount greater than the daily pay of a conscientious working stiff doing hard labor in Death Valley. 

According to Forbes, it's leapfrogged over $70 billion since 2015. Cut that frog's legs down to size!

The literary masterpiece "Lady Chatterley's Lover" was once banned for obscenity. For true shameless smuttiness, take a peek at the centerfold of Bloomberg's financial portfolio. Many of his tycoon confreres are even more indecent than Bloomberg, who at least donates to medical research, once he's made good on his non-disclosure agreements. 

Getting to the bottom of other moguls' endowments is like dissolving sewer clog. Investigative reporters belong in the same trade school as plumbers.

Should the exponential piling up of personal wealth be restricted? Should it be forbidden outright, discouraged by taxation though tolerated by law, or its booty statutorily seized, like eminent domain, to serve the public interest?  

Do moral mandates ever kick in? Do they even exist?

Billionaires should all be raided, no matter their political and philanthropic settings. They all leverage every picayune aspect of life to the advantage of themselves and whatever and whomever they cleave to. Even until the grave worms do them part. They bilk the system ("tap opportunities") for all it's worth. 

But we are conflicted. Much progress that society makes can be traced to the entrepreneurial mischief of the master builders flush with lucre. But also its ills. Are we to hold the billionaires to the same standard as the Crumbley parents?

China has imposed capital punishment on a gaggle of errant billionaires in recent years. That's over the top. What happened to the concept of a "happy medium,” particularly when guilt is contrived or inspired by their accusers' standard operations?

If Mayor Eric Adams gets his way, City Council members will have to fill out an online document called an "Elected Officials Agency Engagement Request,” if they want a face-to-face with nearly anyone in city government. Its pretext is to promote governmental efficiency. 

But red tape binds mouths.

Will the document be less invasive than the intake questionnaire for my ambulatory medical care facility, which needs to know my race, gender identification, religion and other information pertinent to a sinus infection?

To her credit, Council Speaker Adrienne Adams rejects needless walls between members' offices and their constituents. But the mayor still wants state and federal officials to do the onerous chore as a condition for a sit-down with representatives from city agencies. Why, for market research? The arteries of governmental administration are already blocked with bureaucratic plaque. 

States of emergency are chronic in almost every area. 

Despite this, a very impressive project has just been announced. It's obviously been on the city's fast-track, since it's been in the planning stage for more than 20 years. The contractors and consultants' front burner's pilot lights have been fickle since the new millennium was welcomed by a solar flare. It seems like an impressive investment whose fulfillment has been, by the city's historical yardstick, almost premature. 

Better late than never, even if there's barely a quantitative difference between the two. The Willets Point blueprint calls for a soccer stadium, housing that is affordable to the near-affluent, a new public school and a hotel. 

The city can get its act together, but it needs some tough love, courageous producers, directors and stage managers who have substantial immunity from the coercive pressures of elected officials and courts. 

It needs a Mojo Czar! But every challenge is a whammy to the city.

Mayor Adams has launched the LockerNYC program. Because a half-million Amazon packages are stolen every week, his solution is to install outdoor lockers, not double-down on patrols. To recover almost three-quarters of a million dollars in revenue lost annually to turnstile jumpers, his elixir is congestive pricing for innocent motorists. 

And the answer to shoplifting is to imprison toothpaste tubes behind bars instead of thieves. 

In Battery Park recently, a 5-year-old child with a full bladder was caught midday with his pants down, discreetly urinating near a bathroom that should not have been locked. Instantly a half-dozen members of a Park Department SWAT team of code enforcers converged on his mother and gave her a summons and fine. 

At a playground named after a member of a prominent Queens political family, the bathroom has been shackled for months with no explanatory signs or action after multiple notifications to the city's official website. I know the guy who tapped a kidney on the side of the brick outhouse, but I'm neither snitch nor confessor.

Why not just fix the damn toilets and cut down on overtime for the Parks Dept. Delta Force?

What is being done to prevent e-bike fatalities, which numbered two dozen last year? The city is launching a safety campaign! Why not mandate licenses subject to revocation, escalating insurance costs and fines and forfeiture for violators.

And what does "prosecution to the fullest (expedient) extent of the law" mean? An old parishioner was punched down a flight of steps outside her church and sustained a fractured skull and brain bleed. The victim's grandson "hopes" the thug will be held in custody. That would universally be taken for granted in a rational society. He was at least taken to a juvenile facility but may not be tried as an adult.

But we see what we see, and we know what we know. A renaissance of the city is impossible unless we get through the dark ages caused by the blinders of leadership.

Civic engagement is no cake walk for jaded workers, juggling two full-time jobs and earning less than the taxpayers' gifts to unvetted visitors. No offense to migrants, but under ordinary circumstances, they should not be getting benefits above what is available to disabled soldiers and others in need. Neither should they be denied the essentials of life, such as housing and education.

Yet that is what the city has done by suspending its 60-day shelter rule. 

This counterintuitive and cockeyed edict ousts migrants, who must pack up their belongings and locate shelter elsewhere. This provokes resentment, confusion and more bureaucratic redundancies of personnel and documentation. And it causes traumatic and often permanent interruption in the continuity of their children's education.

If the universe were on the market and our city showed up at the garage sale with enough loot in hand and equity to laugh off the sticker shock and make the purchase, we still couldn't heal the dystopia in plain sight, unless we could first find the lost magic penny of honor and pride.

Every morning newscast reminds us that it is out of circulation and no longer minted.


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