This happened more recently than I'd like to admit — the day I realized that a New York City taxi cab medallion costs $1 million.
I was in the newsroom reading about the fight between yellow cab drivers and their new green cousins roaming the outer-boroughs. The story, from last June, was that yellow taxi drivers disliked the fact that green cab medallions were first sold for a mere $1,500. Quite a price differential from the yellow cabs, of course.
I grew up in the country, but for as long as I can remember my city family has been in the taxi business. So on hearing this fact my first thought was, "Woah, my uncle has $2 million on wheels." My second thought was, "the city absolutely had to lower the cost of a green medallion. How could an immigrant just starting out possibly purchase a $1 million taxi cab now?"
New York is the kind of place that is always in danger of becoming a city of 'haves' and 'have-nots.' Unless we're careful — unless we purposely create opportunities for those willing to capitalize on them — the pace of this city can leave people behind.
It's impossible to think about this and not think about growing income inequality on a national or global scale — and what kind of measures we as a society need to take to ensure things don't get worse.
If you do a quick Craiglist search you can see that green medallions can go for around $15,000 now. It's a tough buy for someone starting with nothing, but not an impossible dream.
And ideally, New York is a city of possible dreams.