Yes, yes, it’s important to see the big picture. But sometimes viewing life from 30,000 feet is not actually better. Two stories in today’s Boston Globe show how grand urban plans or budget metrics can sacrifice a touch of humanity.
First, in the interest of saving money, the Social Security Administration has been closing field offices, 64 field offices and 533 mobile offices over the last five years. The impact on seniors and the disabled is harsh, especially as the boomer generation seeking assistance has grown 20 percent over the last decade. Not everyone in this generation has a computer or is adept at using one. Those seeking help at a Social Security office to apply for benefits or get replacement Social Security cards have increasingly had to wait weeks for an appointment. Republicans and Democrats alike on the Senate’s Aging Committee expressed concern at a hearing yesterday. Maybe they can agree that more demand, less service, is an unfeeling equation.
Then there’s the vote expected today by the Boston Redevelopment Authority expected to relocate from Northern Avenue to Charlestown the staging area for horse-drawn carriages that go throughout downtown. The development potential of the Seaport area is the BRA’s motivation. These charming equine members of the local Boston scene would then have to clomp-clomp over a bridge with open metal grates, where the horses would be spooked by the water below and couldn’t get good traction on the surface. (Apparently horses and people have different depth perception.) The dangers predicted by carriage owners, again according to the Globe story, would probably spell the end of horse-drawn carriages in downtown Boston, including the Christmas rides that carriage owners donate to the city every year.
No one can deny what Seaport development has meant to the local economy, but it’s incomprehensible that the BRA can’t find a suitable staging area that would accommodate both development interests and the horse-drawn carriages, preserving the charm that attracts visitors and locals alike.
Both stories are just the most recent reminder that officials and bureaucrats allegedly working for “the greater good” don’t always get it right.
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