Daily Point

The opioid crisis’ economic effect

Thousands of lives across New York have been lost to the opioid epidemic. But the cost ripples far beyond the victims and their families.

A new report being released Wednesday by the Fiscal Policy Institute shows that the opioid crisis cost Long Island $8.2 billion in economic damage in 2017 alone — the latest year for which definitive data is available. That’s a staggering 4.5 percent of the region’s gross domestic product, according to the study, and amounted to $22.4 million in economic losses per day.

“There are really tangible, quantifiable fiscal impacts of the opioid crisis,” Fiscal Policy Institute chief economist and report co-author Jonas Shaende told The Point. “No one had priced the damage of the opioid crisis and its impact on the business community… We’re all paying for this crisis.”

The study, co-authored by FPI’s Shamier Settle, analyzed everything from health care costs to lost productivity. It examined the impact of opioid deaths, in terms of what those individuals could have contributed to the economy had they lived, and looked beyond that, to the broader cost of opioid addiction. The report estimates that a staggering 45,450 individuals on Long Island are living with opioid addiction, resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars in lost productivity and increased health care costs. Among the industries most affected are education, health care, professional services and retail.

The Long Island Community Foundation funded the report, and Long Island Association chief economist John Rizzo was involved as well, Shaende said.

Shaende noted that in the past, the narrative around the crisis had focused on families and communities. Involving the business community, he said, could help the broader effort to develop solutions and strategies.

“This is just the beginning of the conversation,” Shaende said.

- Randi Marshall @RandiMarshall

Talking Point

Eyes on the prize

New York City is getting its own version of the MacArthur “genius” grant. 

The Walentas Family Foundation this week is launching The David Prize, named after real estate patriarch David Walentas. The prize will “support people with extraordinary ideas, projects, or plans that endeavor to make New York City a better place for all New Yorkers,” according to the sponsors. 

Five prize winners who must live and work in NYC will each notch $200,000 for a project that specifically impacts one or more of the five boroughs. 

The MTA has tried a version of this specifically for transportation, with the authority’s “Genius Transit Challenge.” Then there’s Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s regional economic development Hunger Games. 

But the new David Prize is more open-ended. 

That got The Point thinking about a few non-capital-improvement-related-but-still-very-important submissions:

  • Hire four full-time “Brooklyn Bridge ambassadors” to keep tourists from clogging the bike path by taking people’s photos. 
  • Launch a public service announcement campaign reminding people that summer is not, in fact, over for a few more weeks.
  • Conduct a no-holds-barred investigation into whether Brooklyn and Queens are part of Long Island, and why. 

We hope our check’s in the mail. Point readers with better ideas can apply here: https://www.thedavidprize.org/

- Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano

Pencil Point

American tragic

Ken Catalino

Ken Catalino

For more cartoons, visit www.newsday.com/opinion

Quick Points

  • After a gunman killed seven people and wounded 22 others in West Texas, Vice President Mike Pence said, “Our hearts break.” But not enough to actually do anything.
  • As liberals continued to evaluate ideas and proposals from Democratic presidential candidates last weekend, the best thing they heard came from Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who told an audience in Washington that after her recent treatment for pancreatic cancer, “I am on my way to being very well.”
  • In pushing governments to take the necessary steps to fight climate change, Pope Francis evoked the wonders of nature by citing the Biblical account of the Creation, “And God saw that it was good.” Too bad President Donald Trump doesn’t see it that way.
  • A U.S. negotiator presented the Afghan government with a deal in principle with the Taliban over a ceasefire and U.S. drawdown of troops. Nothing says trust quite like a Taliban attack that killed at least five civilians and wounded 50 more — just a few hours later.
  • At President Donald Trump’s “suggestion,” Vice President Mike Pence is staying at Trump’s golf resort in Doonberg, Ireland, during his visit to that country. Before you get all hot and bothered about Pence joining the list of officials and dignitaries enriching Trump by patronizing one of his properties, where did you expect Pence to stay — at one of the many cheaper hotels in Dublin, where Pence held meetings with the Irish president, prime minister and business leaders and which would not have required the inconvenient and expensive extra air travel from Doonberg 100 miles away? Silly you.
  • Monday was the 50th anniversary of the first ATM machine, installed in Rockville Centre on Sept. 2, 1969. Which begs a question: Which was more amazing that fall, that you could get money from a hole in a wall or that the Mets would win the World Series?

- Michael Dobie @mwdobie