When I was a Civil Air Patrol cadet in the Bronx in the deadly 1980s we always discovered who was really poor when we left the city for competitions, training weekends, and summer encampments.
The CAP seniors at The Kingsbridge Armory fed us well and a few of the program’s 13 to 21 year olds needed their help paying for uniforms. The same kids tended to be the first to ask for whatever was left over on anyone's plate during team meals.
One kid named “Ortiz” would wait by the mess hall trash cans and eat everything in sight. He was smart, strong, tough, hardworking and fast. Basically everything Donald Trump and his fellow trust-fund babies pretend to be.
Ortiz didn't give a damn how much we joked about him "Starving like Marvin" because he knew what it was like to go to bed hungry. To walk the streets of New York City's outer boros at a time when the city routinely racked up more than 2,000 homicides a year - instead of the 500-600 considered normal today.
That translates into six or seven murders a day for a densely packed city with half the geographic footprint of Houston and four times as many residents.
The vast majority of New York City murders didn’t even rate a mention by the city’s 10 daily newspapers and TV news teams, or a few words on 1010 WINS – the “all news all the time” AM radio station.
Only the rich mattered enough for a story. The rest of us were invisible and irrelevant to the machine politicians running the city.
I was acquainted with this painful truth in 1984, after someone on my block was shot five times. A younger and less cynical Victor Epstein waited for the city’s voracious news media to descend on the neighborhood.
No one showed.
You didn’t have to be Stephen Hawking to understand we didn’t count for crap to the people running the city. Just like the hardworking Americans in Flyover Country today.
America adopted New York as a symbol of our national grit after 9/11, without realizing it was also adopting the city’s virulent strain of class warfare and political corruption.