25 November 2008

Back from NYC

Well it was nice to retire from thinking about politics for a number of days. Especially in New York - one remarkable city. Vibrant, continuously. With the full range of people from the very friendly to the dismissively rude, with the wonderful range of cuisine, the art (and architecture) from the Guggenheim to MOMA, to the wondrous scene of this great city from atop the Empire State Building or from the Staten Island Ferry. The enormous diversity of shops and what they sell, the diversity of service from the gracious effortlessness to the Soviet style abruptness. New York is both everything you expect it to be, plus more. There is much that could do with fixing, but I'd rather not think of that - what I do think is that it proves one point of mine above all others - you never know the USA from just one city, and I have been to several US cities in various states (California, Arizona, Nevada, Minnesota, Indiana, Ohio, DC, Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York - not counting those I've sat in airports at).

However, the USA does have two notable qualities that make me smile - they are optimism and enthusiasm. New York has both of these, it is as if 9/11 did not happen, the dusty dark closed platform of Cortlandt Street subway station (which was adjacent to the WTC) is a was the only rather solemn reminder for me.

The optimism is what persuaded me to try NOT thinking about the world of politics while I was there. However, I will be blogging as per usual shortly. Sadly for too much that is pessimistic.

The new NZ government, a cobbled together mishmash of ACT, Peter Dunne and the Maori Party, is not, I bet, what most people who voted for those parties wanted. National has bent over for the likes of Peter Dunne, who should have been sent out to the political wilderness as an unnecessary adjunct, and his piece of pork is Transmission Gully. I will wait and see.

The UK on the other hand is going to "pump prime", meaning borrow from future taxpayers, by increasing spending, cutting some taxes (VAT from 17.5% to 15% for a year - yes don't wet yourself from excitement. Oh by the way, the EU wont allow the UK to drop it further, but no it's not some leftwing organisation is it now?) and increasing taxes on those earning above £150k.

The USA shows us that Change you can believe in actually means putting Hilary Clinton in one of the most powerful positions in the country. This lying power hungry control freak, who started some of the "I'm not sure Obama isn't a Muslim" nonsense is status quo politics par excellence. The "new politics" look rather familiar.

On that note I will make one point. In street stalls and markets around New York there are mountains of Barack Obama t-shirts, badges, hats, mugs and other miscellany - and I don't mean campaign material, but post-election. The man is a superstar, his image is everywhere and, for a moment, I believed it was good that, at least, many people are personally optimistic about the future.

However, that is sadly decimated by why they are optimistic - a politician made them so. Not by wanting to set them free. Martin Luther King Jr. sought that and spoke that. No. Obama made people optimistic because of the word "change". Little about what he proposes is new at all. People are optimistic and love Obama not because of his policies, or what he believes in (which is at best rather vague and oblique), but because of how he can speak, his background and because he is different. He is partly the creation of a news media that fell in love with him, so much of the USA followed. He has a lot to live up to - I am very sceptical that he can meet half the expectations placed upon him.

Though one thing does matter - go to New York if you can - there is so much more I want to see. It is an expensive trip from New Zealand (more than London), but cheap from Europe. It is a remarkable city, too much that is so different from every other city in the USA.

I can't believe it has taken me so long to go - and I'll go again, and again and again.


Stephanie said...

My parent's one big regret was that they never once took the trip down to NYC when they were living in toronto. They did eventually make it there last year and really kicked themselves.

Trevor Loudon said...



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StephenR said...

You actually believe that most Maori party voters wanted them to go with the Nats?


I had a New York stopover last year and it was great.
2-3 days was not enough.

Echo, etc. said...

Glad you had a good trip!
You have also been to Kentucky. The airport is there, as well as a store or two you went to. :)