101008subway.jpgThe Times went around fretfully asking experts and 'men on the street' whether the economic downturn is going to lead to higher crime. The consensus? Well, it couldn't hurt to get renter's insurance, and hide those iPod earbuds as you stroll home through your increasingly blighted neighborhood. While this isn't an exact science, the article does draw some persuasive parallels between today's meltdown and the crime explosion that followed the 1987 Wall Street crash, as well as the fiscal crisis of the 1970s that made New York a “hell on earth,” as former NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton puts it. (He blames the high crime in those days on the city's decision to lay of thousands of cops.) Today budget cuts have left the NYPD with about 4,000 fewer officers then in 2000, and the department has been asked to cut another 2.5% of its budget. Mya Bee, a filmmaker in Bed Stuy, predicts, "When you can’t use your credit cards, it will get worse. When that happens, all hell will break loose."