Wednesday, March 10, 2010
The New York Botanical Garden sent me an email asking me to complete a survey on why I did not renew. My response to the final open question follows.
Over the last year my finances, like those of many others, have been devastated. I have been looking for work for 22 months. This is undoubtedly the harshest environment in the last 70 years faced by institutions like the Garden and the others I listed (Natural History, The New York Historical Society, The Frick, The Jewish Museum, The Museum of Jewish Heritage, the Noguchi) and can no longer afford to support. I know the work you do and how careful you have been with every dollar. More needs to be done always to keep the public informed. I know your neighbor the Zoo had to ship animals out when they could not afford to keep them. The answer is not more government money, because there is none. The answer is supporting the engines of wealth creation that built New York and that supported so much in this town. I am very active in the Red Cross and since the loss of Lehman Brothers, who supported so much that we admired in this city, the Red Cross has had to cut almost half their staff. When, not if, we get hit again we will be less ready then we were 8 years ago. Perhaps on the Science and maintenance sides a closer partnership with the municipal gardens can be forged. Be careful to keep your independence. Perhaps area passes good at many institutions can be pushed. Perhaps the Garden can sponsor a Victory Garden program with the City to keep people fed when the economy crashes again, as I fear it will within the year. Do not be shy at getting all the publicity you can and please keep trying no matter how hard it gets. One day soon with luck and grace I will renew.
What has made our civilization so special, what made us unabashedly Exceptional, was supported by the wealth generated by our Capitalist economy. The thugs who mugged the mortgage industry and then raped and destroyed Lehman Brothers and the rest of our financial system did more than loot like vandals. They cut the heart out of the greatest engine for charity in human history. Since then they moved like a horde of army ants to strip the assets of the Automobile industry and are seeking ravenously to devour the Insurance, Health Care and Pharmaceuticals industries. Those who will suffer will include the future generations who will be less educated, less sensitive, less civilized and ultimately less safe.