Fear City: New York's Fiscal Crisis and the Rise of Austerity Politics (MP3 CD)

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Fear City: New York's Fiscal Crisis and the Rise of Austerity Politics Cover Image
By Kim Phillips-Fein, Pam Ward (Narrated by)
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Staff Reviews

This book is a doozy, a colorful history of a specific time and place, which continues to have major implications today. New York in the early 1970s was facing many of the same economic problems as the rest of urban America: simultaneous blows of recession, inflation, and suburban flight sucked revenue out of the city and provided an economic shock that provided the circumstances for the financial sector to impose its will on the political system. In order to ride out the immediate crisis, political choices eventually led to austerity in regards to public spending combined with subsidization of the financial and real estate sectors. These fateful, pressured decisions subsequently provided a blueprint for succeeding decades of neoliberal hegemony. Public good was sacrificed at the altar of the banking industry and economic stratification resulted. The hundred-year-plus practice of free college tuition was hurriedly discontinued and spending on the departments of parks, police, fire--and, famously, sanitation--were all drastically cut, as garbage piled high in the streets. Emblematic of this period was the rise of rich redlining heir, Donald Trump. His real estate projects were gifted with massive local tax abatements (and his subsequent misadventures have been buoyed by federal tax and bankruptcy law). In stark contrast was President Ford's harsh response to the city's request for federal public aid, which was summed up by the iconic '70s newspaper headline, "FORD TO CITY: DROP DEAD." Phillips-Fien describes increasing institutional distrust in the wake of austerity measures with examples of major events of the time: garbage strikes, blue flu, and a particularly trenchant comparison of the contrasting political responses to the blackouts of '65 and '77.

— Will


An epic, riveting history of New York City on the edge of disaster-and an anatomy of the austerity politics that continue to shape the world today When the news broke in 1975 that New York City was on the brink of fiscal collapse, few believed it was possible. How could the country's largest metropolis fail? How could the capital of the financial world go bankrupt? Yet the city was indeed billions of dollars in the red, with no way to pay back its debts. Bankers and politicians alike seized upon the situation as evidence that social liberalism, which New York famously exemplified, was unworkable. The city had to slash services, freeze wages, and fire thousands of workers, they insisted, or financial apocalypse would ensue. In this vivid account, historian Kim Phillips-Fein tells the remarkable story of the crisis that engulfed the city. With unions and ordinary citizens refusing to accept retrenchment, the budget crunch became a struggle over the soul of New York, pitting fundamentally opposing visions of the city against each other. Drawing on never-before-used archival sources and interviews with key players in the crisis, Fear City shows how the brush with bankruptcy permanently transformed New York-and reshaped ideas about government across America.
Product Details
ISBN: 9781541453463
ISBN-10: 1541453468
Publisher: Tantor Audio
Publication Date: April 30th, 2017
Language: English