Saturday, January 05, 2008

Opulence amidst Crumbling Infrastructure

Tomorrow's NY Times underscores the problem of privately-funded opulence in the heart of crumbling urban infrastructure:
The shift from public money to private wealth in shaping the nation’s cities is evident in national data. Government outlays on physical infrastructure have declined to 2.7 percent of the gross domestic product, from 3.6 percent in the 1960s. Philanthropic giving, in contrast, has jumped to nearly 2.5 percent of G.D.P., from 1.5 percent in 1995 and 2 percent in the ’60s.
Read the entire piece to see how the Times follows an expanding and exclusive urban university in the midst of a declining city--a city within a city--as a case study for alarming, volcanic disparities between public and private. Here's a head-shaking taste:
Yale now spends more than $400 million annually on its renaissance, nearly six times its outlays for construction and renovation in the mid-1990s. New Haven, by contrast, budgeted $137 million in the current fiscal year for all its capital projects, including those subsidized by state and federal governments. That is less than twice the amount budgeted in the mid-’90s.

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