An early morning commuter might step into a subway car and be outnumbered by bums 50 to one. (Trust me: I was the one.)
If you knew better, you didn't sit down, because a homeless person with soiled pants may have been sitting there earlier.
Today, New York is returning to those dark days of the 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s. The days B.G. - Before Giuliani. When politicians were afraid to confront and expel the homeless. When commuters, business owners and residents were expected to tolerate their presence, their assault on our senses and sensibilities and, too often, their mental illnesses and violence, as the price for being in The Big City.
Those were the days when a New Jersey judge ruled that local residents objecting to a stinking bum's presence were ignored by that judge and told that "Instead of revoking [the bum's] library card, we ought to revoke his condition.". As if his "condition" were either the fault or the duty of the public to remedy.
New York City has returned to the days of inaction, of paralysis, of grudging resignation to tolerating the homeless. The evidence is the hundreds of stinking, menacing homeless now inhabitating Grand Central, Penn Station and Port Authority, certain midtown indoor plazas and even some parks.
New York City and building owners are rightfully reluctant to expel the homeless for fear of the plaintiffs' class action lawsuit asserting unconstitutional deprivations of rights. But the average person on the street has a voice.
Businesses which refuse to address their homeless problem -- of the homeless refusing to vacate the premises -- have an unenviable choice: fear the lawsuit, or fear the lost business when customers flee. (Indeed, the homeless understand this; part of this problem is a game of urban extortion played by the intentionally obnoxious.)
New York's renewal was sparked by Mayor Giuliani's understanding that the old paradigm of nonconfrontation had to change in order to retain businesses and residents, attract tourists and attract development.
New York's renewed decline will be sparked by a return to the fearful policies of appeasement and guilt. The elites may decry their condition. The average family with options -- hell, with a car -- will go out to the suburbs. And stay there.
Something to ponder the next time to hear any of the nine announced or presumed candidates for New York City mayor speak.