Just one day before the 600-foot-tall apparatus teetered and fell, killing one person and injuring several, it had been certified as safe as the pre-iceberg Titanic... as safe as the cumbersome machine straining to hoist another Clinton back to the heights of power. But sometimes all it takes is one fresh gust of wind to topple even the strongest-appearing edifice.
Today, all that remains of the New York accident is a bleak caravan of crushed luxury cars, broken glass, construction debris, gas and water main leaks, and pockmarked high-rises stretching for more than two city blocks. The gentrified landscape of the Wealth Inequality Capital of America was transformed into a post-apocalyptic movie in the space of a New York minute. It will take days, even weeks, for deconstruction crews to complete the painstaking job of separating the wreckage into removable pieces.
|(credit: Roberto Alvarez)|
From the New York Post:
Officials have yet to explain why exactly the crane capsized, but one expert explained that a 565-foot boom is devilishly tricky to lower.“It will take hundreds of tons just to counterbalance that boom, and if you do it too quickly, it could be thrown off balance,” said James Pritchett, president of Crane Experts International, which investigates such mishaps. The crane’s operator, Kevin Reilly, 56, has a record of three DWI arrests, all from the 1980s. He was questioned by cops after the collapse and submitted to a Breathalyzer test, blowing a clean .000, law-enforcement sources said.
Locals said the crane’s looming presence had been making them nervous all week.The irony -- that the collapsed crane was erected to install new infrastructure on the roof of the iconic Western Union building for the specific purpose of speeding up energy-hungry casino capitalism -- should not be lost on us. The whole point of putting monster-generators on the roof instead of in the basement or at ground-level was to avoid inconveniencing the residents of the tony neighborhood, as well as to avoid interrupting the high frequency trading orgy of the surrounding brokerage houses.
The irony is that high-speed trades are just the kind of fraudulent activity that Bernie Sanders railed against during his debate with Hillary Clinton the night before the accident. Sanders wants to institute a tax on the high-speed traders of Wall Street in order to pay for free tuition at public colleges. Hillary just wants the grifters to snort a gram or two less, and call it a reformation.
The doomed crane had been lowering 62,000-pound generators onto the steel-reinforced roof above the 24th floor of the landmark Western Union building at 60 Hudson Street, when squall warnings prompted crews to attempt lowering it to the ground for the duration. They lost control, and the edifice crashed, of its own top-heavy volition, to the streets below.
Since the city's existing power grid is not sufficient to power the servers, switches and storage units necessary for the turbo-charged capitalistic ambitions of a company called DataGryd, the owner has had to install his own private infrastructure. The original plans for underground installation were pre-empted by flooding fears in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. So, considerate guy that he is, CEO Peter Feldman seized upon the unique idea of going Up, Up and Up in order to avoid inconveniencing the high speed trader-tenants already making money hand over fist in both the building itself and in the surrounding neighborhood. Such high-speed trading is, apparently, extremely noise sensitive. "We had to modernize and future-proof the building. We had to turn the building inside out to do it," he told an interviewer in 2014. "But now we can meet future market demand."
Or maybe not. The sound of Feldman's collapsing crane has been compared to the sound of the Twin Towers collapsing on 9/11. Oops. But since Hillary Clinton is representing New Hampshire instead of New York this week, she is not rushing to the scene to comfort her Financial District constituents, as she bragged about doing in one of early debates. To the contrary, she took their money and ran... for the presidency.
Meanwhile, the monster "crawler cranes" of the type that collapsed on Friday are a new and ubiquitous feature of real estate-booming, class-disparate New York City. People have compared them to the science fiction creatures known as the Transformers. Whenever one of these steel monsters appears in the neighborhood, whenever the wind kicks up, people get very, very nervous.
Faux-progressive Mayor Bill De Blasio, just back in town after stumping for Hillary Clinton in Iowa, was sanguine about the latest catastrophe. Only one person was killed, he bragged. (The victim was a Harvard grad/math whiz employed at the high-speed firm responsible for more than half of all the rigged stock trading in the United States.) And anyway, this wasn't a case of blatant neglect, since Feldman's contractor was in the process of lowering the crane when it collapsed. Stuff happens. In capitalism as in war, you have to expect some collateral damage. "This is a totally different matter," De Blasio insisted, while Comptroller and former Public Advocate Scott Stringer accused overworked building inspectors of "sleeping on the job."
Machine operators and political operators alike, it appears, have yet to learn the laws of physics.
Things fall apart, things go ka-boom, whenever there is too much power and weight at the very top. Any toddler playing with her first set of building blocks quickly learns that you need a strong foundation to keep your tower from collapsing.
NASA also came out a few years ago with a handy guide, called HANDY, to explain just how inequality inevitably leads to societal and economic collapse. It ain't rocket science. Neither is the fact that corruption is the direct result of politicians taking money from plutocrats. No entitled candidate is immune. Not even fake Transformer Hillary Clinton.
As a matter of fact, it was the deregulation-happy Clinton administration which has allowed high frequency trading (HFT) firms in the neighborhood of Friday's crane collapse to grow and flourish in the first place. As mentioned above, the one fatality of the collapse was employed as a "flashboy" or "mathlete" in the firm which has perfected the practice. President Obama has always strongly opposed taxing these outfits, as have the Wall Street contributors to both political parties. Clinton herself only very narrowly wants to reform HFTs, to the extent of barring "false orders" -- cancelling a trade the split second after it is ordered. Tax-free HFT itself would be kept in place under her administration. Bernie Sanders, on the other hand, wants to rehab Wall Street by making it pay for gambling with other people's money.
Capitalism on crack is devilishly tricky to detox, but detox it we must. Cure it of its addiction, or let it rest in peace before it kills the rest of us.
Stop the poison of the plutocracy. Feel the Bern.