Monday, January 24, 2011
"So our challenge, especially as we continue to fight our way back from the worst recession in our lifetimes, is to harness this spirit, to harness this potential, the potential that all of you represent." - President Obama
It's not as catchy as Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and there's no devilishly handsome Jimmy Stewart. But, see that wee plane in the background above? You might have to squint to see the lettering but it says 'United States of America and it landed at Albany International on Friday afternoon as I was chipping ice from my windshield. There I was pounding away, putting my back into it and whoosh! da plane, da plane!
Prior to the President's trip to the Albany area I'd been so full of mocking of the choice of Schenectady. It's not a glamorous city by any means and while those of us living in Albany or Troy even guffaw at it's nothingness. It's so harsh and that is the point one would suppose, of visiting a city that is long past its heyday and only looking for that chance to pull a phoenix. In the end it makes me sad to see the devastation when heading west on I-90. Things that were once are no longer and once vibrant places, hit hard by even harder economic conditions.
Have you been to the southern tier? Or Corning? It's vast emptiness of what was before is shown in boarded up shops and buildings. There are spots of revitalization in bars on the main streets and yet...It's sad. The thing you must know about New York is that it's segregated. Not in the Birmingham 1955 kind of way but in the Upstate v. Downstate: What matters more? way. What people from the outside see is the thriving metropolis of the island of Manhattan. There's still hustle and bustle and when they were down and out on their luck there was TARP to save them. But west of Albany is a different story starting with Schenectady. It's like no one cares and so I mock in jest knowing that those who do live there stay because they do believe that State street headed towards Proctors only needs the volt of a crash cart to get it going again. Hence the President's visit there to a GE plant that made it the Electric City but has since lost its flicker.
Tomorrow evening is the State of the Union where the President will talk jobs, jobs and more jobs and why the economy is slowly rising and yet continues to suffocate some of our most deserving citizens. It's hard? You know. To see these hard hit areas who seem to continue with their struggle. So what to do, what to do? A speech won't help, will it? There's that SOTU bounce back that the administration hopes for but I hate playing with the politics of polling when it comes to people's livelihoods. Wait and see what happens I suppose. Knowing that these cities didn't fall in a day and it will take much more than 90 minutes of pomp and circumstance to bring them back to their feet.