Ten years later

By EDITORIAL  |  September 7, 2011

It is no longer a given that children will do better than their parents. In fact, it may now be highly unlikely — unless you are part of the one percent of the nation that owns and controls 24 percent of America's wealth.

The gap between the rich and poor in the United States, which began to grow 30 years ago, has become staggering.

The distribution of American affluence, which remains awe-inspiring, is nevertheless on a par with a banana republic.

The rate of relative economic deterioration for about 90 percent of Americans and their families has accelerated over the last 10 years, and it has gone into hyperdrive as the number of jobless and homeless have increased daily since September 18, 2008. That was when the full panic set in due to the failure of Lehman Brothers and the near collapse of insurance giant AIG, along with the still unprosecuted theft by Wall Street firms and the banking industry.

In very measurable ways, 9/18 is the new 9/11.

The economic meltdown was already 13 months old at that point. We may wonder today, what's left to melt down? But as grim as prospects are, they could get much, much worse.

And in a way, Saint Vincent's Hospital is a symbol of that potential for further decline. It is closed now. A victim of the perverse and punishing economics of the health-care industry. A neighborhood institution that stood ready to serve in great crisis.

All over America, the Saint Vincent's — be they schools or libraries or local employers of every size — are disappearing.

As we remember the dead and celebrate the heroes of 9/11, we should be aware that, as a nation, we have become diminished. It is going to take more than 10 years to come back.

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