How low can you go?

Apparently, a lot lower than Syracuse

Hunched on the eastern edge of the Monongahela River only a few miles from bustling Pittsburgh, Braddock is a mix of boarded-up storefronts, houses in advanced stages of collapse and vacant lots.

The state has classified it a “distressed municipality” — bankrupt, more or less — since the Reagan administration. The tax base is gone. So are most of the residents. The population, about 18,000 after World War II, has declined to less than 3,000. Many of those who remain are unemployed. Real estate prices fell 50 percent in the last year.

This year, the town will be featured in the film version of another work of art, Cormac McCarthy’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “The Road.” Set in a post-Armageddon America where food is so scarce that many survivors turned to cannibalism, “The Road” was shot partially in Braddock.

They do, however, have a mayor who has tattooed onto his arm the date of each murder in Braddock that has occurred under his watch. His (mostly symbolic and largely personal) efforts to hold the place together are worth a read (and watch).

I have to laugh at those who look at the wider economic collapse and imagine all kinds of post-apocalyptic scenarios for America. As if that all just started this year.