THE FISCAL CRISIS OF AMERICAN CITIES: Essays on the Political Economy of Urban America with Special Reference to New York by David & Roger Alcaly--Eds. Mermelstein

THE FISCAL CRISIS OF AMERICAN CITIES: Essays on the Political Economy of Urban America with Special Reference to New York

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Neither profligate officials nor greedy bankers brought New York to its knees, runs the premise of this volume, but the cyclical nature of a capitalist economy: to reverse the worldwide downturn, New York, visible and vulnerable, was stripped of its autonomy, some ""small wealth"" was liquidated, and--through loss of wages or social benefits--workers' living standards were reduced. ""The crisis is thus valuable to capital as an object lesson for others."" This, at least, is the nexus of Matthew Edel's cogent, systematic application of radical political economics, ""The New York Crisis as Economic History""; it is pursued intriguingly and persuasively in Robert Fitch's ""Planning New York"" (which identifies urban planning with maximizing real-estate profits--""The proponents of the Robert Moses Theory of History notwithstanding""); illustrated in Jason Epstein's lament for what the construction industry wrought (""The Last Days of New York""); explained in terms of the general ""restorative function of crises"" by Roger Alcaly and Helen Bodian (""New York's Fiscal Crisis and the Economy""); and placed in a socio-political context by Frances Fox Pliven (""The Urban Crisis--Who Got What and Why""). Others of the 22 selections--some original, some reprinted--take divergent positions, make mutually contradictory assertions, and cite irreconcilable statistics; altogether there is much overlapping. But the organizational weakness of the collection does not lessen its utility as a source of fresh, penetrating analysis.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1976
Publisher: Random House