By Michael Powell – NY Times

“When the economy grows, it’s not because of a new government program or spending initiative. … It’s time to leave that era behind.”

— John A. Boehner, House speaker, May 2011

It might be hard selling that narrative line to the once broken beauty that is the Bronx.

As a teenager in the 1970s, I offered visiting friends tours of the apocalypse. We piled into an old Buick and drove north from Manhattan, which wasn’t in such great shape either, into the South Bronx. We rolled down ghost canyons of burnt-out buildings, saw mattresses and old sinks and tubs piled atop hills of rubble, and encountered smack dealers who cordoned off blocks for open-air markets. (We could not have been safer; they assumed we were white boys in search of a fix.)

It was macabre and infuriating, a core of urban America discarded and forgotten. Nothing, I assumed, could breathe life into this corpse.

I was spectacularly mistaken, a point driven home again on a recent tour in the company of city housing officials. Again I rolled across the Willis Avenue Bridge into the South Bronx, and what is there should (but almost certainly will not) give pause to those who argue that government lies at the source of our ills.

[Read More]