Morning Links

Monday, May 23rd, 2011
  • Amazing color photographs from the Great Depression.
  • Smoke or deal pot, and the SWAT team will violently break into your home in the middle of the night. But beat a man within an inch of his life, then run from the law, and the SWAT team will come for you in broad daylight, surround your house, make several announcements over a bullhorn, and give you the opportunity to surrender peacefully.
  • Lawmakers, regulators take aim at prepaid credit cards. Because of the drugs.
  • Have no idea if this actually happened. But I hope it did.
  • New York City cracks down on “illegal hotels“, basically making it impossible for a non-profit, private home or apartment owner, or any other party to rent a room to out-of-towners without getting all the proper and prohibitively expensive hotel permits. Great example of how regulation often protects big businesses, and screws over just about everyone else.
  • Time lapse puppy-to-adult video.
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67 Responses to “Morning Links”

  1. #1 |  pegr | 

    The church signs are fake. Fake, but hilarious. ;)

  2. #2 |  JimBob | 

    Of course they gave the guy a chance to surrender. He had a history of violent behavior; cops can’t be expected to confront violence head-on! The drug users are typically non-violent potheads. That’s why it’s so much fun to break into their houses, military-style: the expression on a blazed stoner’s face as you shoot his dog and point guns at his kids is fucking priceless.

  3. #3 |  mdb | 

    I know you are trying to draw a distinction between SWAT team usages, but this is how I would want a SWAT team used. The crime was obviously violent, it was a crowded building, and they did not do a forced entry. All pluses in my analysis. Of course they wanted people to watch this one, so they could be seen as doing something, and they don’t want people to see the drug warrants – but snarking at this won’t convince anyone about the wrongness of most SWAT team attacks.

  4. #4 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 

    mdb,

    I think you may be wrong about that. I think that JimBob’s reaction might be fairly common …. which would be all to the good.

  5. #5 |  John Jenkins | 

    +1 to JimBob. Cops don’t want to get shot any more than anyone else.

  6. #6 |  Hal_RTFLC | 

    Regarding: prepaid cards. I love this justification:

    “It was bank and wire-transfer records that enabled law enforcement to identify the 9/11 hijackers and their overseas cells. “Had the 9/11 terrorists used prepaid (stored-value) cards to cover their expenses, none of these financial footprints would have been available,” a U.S. Treasury Department report observed.”

    Yes. Wire transfer records totally prevented 9/11. Oh, wait…

  7. #7 |  Michael Chaney | 

    Lawmakers, regulators take aim at prepaid credit cards. Because of the drugs.

    Whaddya bet police are stealing these during the forfeiture stops and just pocketing them?

  8. #8 |  Greg | 

    I’ve always found it fascinating how people react to color v. b&W photography.

    WWII seems so far away when viewing the majority of the documentation done in black&white, but the color images from WWI seem as current as Vietnam (save for the attire and the weaponry).

  9. #9 |  Nick | 

    RE: Church Signs – They are in fact fake… and yes… very funny. Its pretty obvious they are fake since the shadowing doesn’t change between the different pictures of the different signs (very obvious with the Catholic Church signs) and also the cars in the background of the Catholic Church sign never change.

  10. #10 |  Jeff | 

    The content of the New Testament was pretty much finalized during the 4th century, long before the Reformation. But what is now the Catholic Church was the editor, if not the author, of the Bible. So I’ve always found it a bit curious to see Protestants claim that their denomination is more faithful to it than are the Catholics.

  11. #11 |  Yizmo Gizmo | 

    NYC, basically making it impossible for a non-profit, private home or apartment owner, or any other party to rent a room to out-of-towners without getting all the proper and prohibitively expensive hotel permits..

    Heading up there in a few weeks, wondering why I need to
    pay $250 a night for a friggin room.
    Now I know. Same old story.
    “It’s for your safety.”

  12. #12 |  Chad Olsen | 

    http://www.says-it.com/churchsigns/

    make your own church signs. Always good for a laugh.

  13. #13 |  Cyto | 

    The SWAT issue all comes back to exigent circumstances, doesn’t it? If they allowed a suspected drug dealer to remain in the house for any period of time knowing the police are on to him, he could destroy evidence! So they have to risk death and mayhem, lest he flush those 3 marijuana cigarettes and render the entire exercise moot! (notwithstanding the notion that the “violent drug dealer” was supposed to have 30 kilos of pot in the house… try flushing that!)

    Since our violent offender couldn’t flush himself down the toilet, no such emergency exists.

  14. #14 |  Bob | 

    “Lawmakers, regulators take aim at prepaid credit cards. Because of the drugs.”

    This scourge has to be stopped! People are buying contraband like drugs and snack foods over the official per person RDA for consumption with these cards!

    All forms of untrackable financial compensation must be eliminated in favor of the GPS encoded Personal Credit Chip. A True American ™ would never buy 4 bags of chips in a month when the legal limit is 3! These people need to have their health insurance cancelled! Or better yet, thrown in jail!

    All True Americans ™ carry PCC cards and use them for all their purchases. Ex Libertae Tyrannis!

    This message brought to you by the committee to eliminate untraceable currency, a political action committee wholly owned by the Free Citizen Coalition.

  15. #15 |  Kristen | 

    JimBob nailed it.

  16. #16 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    Pre-paid: the states hates-HATES-anything anonymous. You will be tracked thru car, computer, bank, and bathroom.

  17. #17 |  crazybob | 

    Um – little history lesson here: all those photos are from the prosperous WWII era when the economy was growing by leaps and bounds – not the depression era.

  18. #18 |  celticdragon | 

    Great example of how regulation often protects big businesses, and screws over just about everyone else.

    Big business has the money and the ability to influence government to do what it wants. Is this a surprise? Of course they will lobby and donate to politicians who will then introduce regulations (or trash them, as needed) as their business donors ask. When they get out of office, their corporate sponsors reward them with board positions and stock.

    Expect to see even more of this in the wake of Citizens United, since multi national corporations can now buy our elections wholesale

    (and foreign governments and the like can get into the action too, since there are little or no regulatory mechanisms to watch the superpacs and other spending groups. Any Russian oligarch can now come in, set up a group called “Americans for Super Democracy!”, shove 200 million into it and begin fluffing candidates who will gut any attempt to link human rights and murdered journalists to the next Russian/American trade bill that comes down the pike for instance…the Chinese tried this bullshit under Clinton and had to launder the money through a couple of intermediaries and a Buddhist Temple in Diamond Bar. Not any more. We lost, and the kleptocrats won…and they expect a profit from their lapdogs in local and national government.)

  19. #19 |  celticdragon | 

    The inspectors documented a number of unsafe conditions, some of which resulted in partial or full vacate orders.
    At the New York Hostel 104, on East 105th Street, inspectors discovered an overcrowded building with combustible material throughout the building, the city said.

    This was something you may have missed, Radley.

    New York has a nasty history of mass casualty fires in buildings that were over-crowded and had insufficient exits, etc.

    If the rentals do not meet fire code, then I agree with the decision to shut them down. That isn’t about propping up unfair competition. That is about keeping people alive.

  20. #20 |  Yizmo Gizmo | 

    Sofas and mattresses and sheets are “combustible.”
    So, shut down the Marriott and Waldorf-Astoria too.

  21. #21 |  albatross | 

    In this New Yorker article, reference is made to a huge data-mining program used by the NSA, which vaccuums up all kinds of data and pieces together information on people of interest. (That program is a minor side-piece to the main point of the article, which is a rerun of the old story where being a whistleblower to some massive illegality means that you’re the only one who goes to jail.)

    In recent years, we’ve seen people pushing back on prepaid phones, and pre-loaded money cards. At a guess, the purpose is to get better information to use in the datamining programs. A law against prepaid phones and cards won’t keep terrorists, spies, or serious criminals from getting multiple phones/cards in someone else’s name, obviously. But they will leave it almost impossible for normal people who aren’t criminals to avoid being 100% tracked and subject to the in-depth mining of everything they do.

    On the day when someone in the administration wants to know what 20 people are at the center of the recent very annoying antiwar demonstrations, so they can be audited, raided by a SWAT team, have their kids taken into custody due to an anonymous tip to the CPS, added to the no-fly list, DDOSed, or hit by a car, etc., this information will be very useful.

  22. #22 |  albatross | 

    Sorry, the New Yorker article is at:

    http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2011/05/23/110523fa_fact_mayer?currentPage=all

  23. #23 |  albatross | 

    celticdragon:

    Actually, this is one of the interesting problems with both regulation and libertarianism. At the same time:

    a. There is a real problem which is being addressed by government action or regulation–unsafe food and drugs, incompetent medical practitioners killing their patients, unsafe or unhealthy places offered as lodging, etc.

    b. In order to address that real problem, we must create an opportunity for a lot of other things to be done. Regulating who may practice medicine may save some people from quacks, but it also lets doctors keep out competition and thus keep their salaries up. Hotel safety rules may protect travelers from unsafe conditions, but also let existing hotels keep out cheap competition. And so on.

    This is a universal, seldom-noted feature of government. You start with “taxes are the price we pay for civilization,” and then discover that you’re also paying for blowing up random annoying people in the third world, subsidies to inefficient businesses and farms, bailouts for politically connected large companies that make bad bets, etc.

  24. #24 |  Zeb | 

    #18 Do you vote for the candidate with the most expensive ads? How stupid do you think people are?

    The only way to prevent large companies to stop wielding undue influence over government is to reduce the size and scope of government. You cannot isolate government from such influence without unreasonably limiting the rights of people to participate in the political process.

    Free speech/press means exactly what is says: the government can’t stop you from publishing, even if you do so in collaboration with other people.

  25. #25 |  Brandon | 

    “That is about keeping people alive.”

    Ah, the siren song of tyranny. “It’s for your own good.” How about the fact that they only talked about specific reasons for one of the three specific shutdowns that they forced? Of course they mention that one first to try to associate all of their actions with preventing “overcrowding and combustible material.” Meanwhile at least one of the others was up-to-date on their fire code and occupancy requirements from before they changed the rules this year, and they still shut them down. But keep telling yourself it’s all about safety.

  26. #26 |  Greg | 

    In this New Yorker article, reference is made to a huge data-mining program used by the NSA, which vaccuums up all kinds of data and pieces together information on people of interest.

    NSA monitors and datalogs everything that moves on the web. Everything. They have for years. This hasn’t been noticed much by the serfs, err, public, because NSA doesn’t have it all perfected enough to completely 1984 us. Yet.

    In the near future the “bad guys” will be identified based on patterns of behaviour and social circles. Minority Report is being fine tuned as we speak.

    Here’s where the fun comes in – not only will the NSA track that uber-scary “potential terrorist” , they’ll also connect you to that guy who occasionally brings some of friends “the sticky”. Whether or not you smoke or just play chess with the dude, expect the black-pajama-Barney-Fife-squad kicking in your door at 3 am.

    The 4th Amendment is, for all intents and purposes, dead.

    This is not tinfoil hat land. Here’s one of a pile of articles on the subject. Actually, even the Narus corporate website will publicly proclaim the evil they are helping the government do.

    http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9164978/Narus_develops_a_scary_sleuth_for_social_media

  27. #27 |  Danny | 

    Those color photos were amazing, but I think most would be termed WWII era, distinct from the depression, although 1940-41 was the tail end of the depression.

  28. #28 |  JS | 

    You can’t blame them for cracking down on the illegal hotels. We can’t have a free exchange of services or goods between consenting parties. What would that be?

  29. #29 |  Blair | 

    The church signs are fake. Here’s the website where you can generate fake church signs.

    http://www.says-it.com/churchsigns/

  30. #30 |  thefncrow | 

    Radley, seen the Brown v. Plata decision yet? The dissents contain a number of choice quotes.

    For example, here’s Scalia’s dissent (with Thomas joining) where the “textualist” describes how the court should have bent over backwards to find any tortured reading of the law to avoid issuing the decision that was rendered today:
    “One would think that, before allowing the decree of a federal district court to release 46,000 convicted felons, this Court would bend every effort to read the law in such a way as to avoid that outrageous result.”

    And here’s Alito (with Scalia joining), attempting to invoke the spectre of “big muscular scary black men coming to get you”: “Most of them will not be prisoners with medical conditions or severe mental illness; and many will undoubtedly be fine physical specimens who have developed intimidating muscles pumping iron in the prison gym.”

  31. #31 |  celticdragon | 

    Ah, the siren song of tyranny. “It’s for your own good.”

    Because making hotels have safe and clean operating conditions is just like living in North Korea.

    It isn’t because of wanting to smoke cut rate weed that most folks think that libertarianism has gone off the rails…it’s because of silly shit like this.

  32. #32 |  jcalton | 

    During the Depression, the New Deal/FDR paid out of work photographers to drive around the country and take photos.
    Chances are very high that the LoC images are government-sponsored art.

  33. #33 |  celticdragon | 

    Do you vote for the candidate with the most expensive ads? How stupid do you think people are?

    Prop 8 answers that question pretty well.

  34. #34 |  Kristen | 

    be fine physical specimens who have developed intimidating muscles pumping iron in the prison gym

    I wonder what genre we’d find in Alito’s pron collection? I bet I can guess!!

  35. #35 |  EH | 

    Something tells me Alito doesn’t have as much of a problem with soldiers coming back from battle and becoming police officers.

  36. #36 |  Pablo | 

    “be fine physical specimens who have developed intimidating muscles. . .”

    Yes I’d like to see whats in the hiding space under his closet too.

    This is a joke–prisons have pretty much eliminated weight rooms due to such concerns. There are some muscular inmates but that is genetic. And it doesn’t take an 18-inch bicep to pull a trigger.

    Re: the credit card article–same thing has happened with money orders. A few weeks ago I got one to send to a friend in jail and discovered that you now have to show ID and have your information recorded in order to get a money order. Can’t just walk in and get one without showing your papers. I asked why and was told it is a new law or regulation intended to prevent “money laundering.”

  37. #37 |  maybelogics | 

    #32 – Yes. There are 1600 more color photos from late 30’s-40’s on the LoC’s Flickr page, and the aesthetic shift between the FSA days and the OWI era (around ’42, I think) is striking. It’s a history of propaganda.

  38. #38 |  Brandon | 

    “Because making hotels have safe and clean operating conditions is just like living in North Korea.

    It isn’t because of wanting to smoke cut rate weed that most folks think that libertarianism has gone off the rails…it’s because of silly shit like this.”

    Because as long as there’s a country out there that abuses its citizens worse, any criticism of our own government can be dismissed out of hand.

    It isn’t because of wanting to be Europe because Europe is cool and has trains that rational folks think that liberalism has gone off the rails…it’s because of mindless authority fellating like this.

  39. #39 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    most folks think that libertarianism has gone off the rails

    You mean the same libertarianism that has more followers, more influence, and publicity than ever before?

  40. #40 |  DarkEFang | 

    It depends on what kind of libertarianism you’re talking about. Not many people will label themselves as libertarians, since most people view libertarianism as the political philosophy of Ayn Randian/Mad Max anarchists. But if you were to ask people their political views on specific topics, you’d see a significant segment of the population espousing libertarian views.

  41. #41 |  J.S. | 

    It was inevitable that the major cities would go after apartment/condo rentals, its become a big business in the last 10 years. I’ve saved on average $100 a night when renting an apartment for a week over hotels. I’ll take having a kitchen and even laundry options over a overpriced hotel room.

  42. #42 |  celticdragon | 

    It depends on what kind of libertarianism you’re talking about. Not many people will label themselves as libertarians, since most people view libertarianism as the political philosophy of Ayn Randian/Mad Max anarchists. But if you were to ask people their political views on specific topics, you’d see a significant segment of the population espousing libertarian views.

    It’s called “cafeteria libertarianism” and that would actually include me as well(I own assault rifles and I really, really do not like where we are headed with police state law enforcement). I do not go along with the notion that the government has no business regulating certain industries for public safety. I worked as an aviation sheet metal mechanic for some years, and I absolutely supported and welcomed FAA inspection of my work. I sure as hell didn’t want 300 people dead because I fucked up somewhere.

    When I check into a hotel, however cheap, I want to know that in the event of a fire, the doors are not chained shut and flammable items are not strewn in the janitor’s closet. Things like this are well within the Constitutionally provided mandate to Congress to pass laws for the general welfare. Public safety is, in fact, a function of government.

    Now, when we get to “cozy capitalism” where big business and big government have melded together, then we have another situation entirely

    Also, the notion that “smaller government” will stop cozy capitalism strikes me as fallacious. Business (or another party…like the Catholic Church did in the Irish Free State in a 7 decade debacle. Just check out what they got away with in the Magdalene Laundry religious prisons for women) will take over where there is a vacuum and these entities have even less responsiveness or concern about individual liberty then most governments.

  43. #43 |  Highway | 

    celticdragon: as always, the rebuttal to your idea that the government is promoting public safety through inspections and regulations is that the government rarely finds those problems in their inspection. Instead, it uses the regulations as bludgeons after the fact to punish people who broke the regulations. Inspection frequency is so low that it’s just as likely the problems will be found by customers or owners, and corrected. I guess one could say that it’s good that the regulations exist, and it might be argued that if there was no threat of punishment, they’d be slower to be corrected. But from a preventative standpoint, inspection and regulation really don’t mean that much.

    I mentioned in another thread about two of my favorite shows: Kitchen Nightmares and Holmes on Homes. In one, you have restaurants that are failing, frequently because their food is terrible. And their food is terrible frequently because their sanitary practices are terrible. But the government’s not shutting them down. The market is. Maybe people aren’t getting overtly sick, or seeing roaches scurry across the table, but something about the place keeps them from coming back.

    In the other, you have many licensed contractors who do work that is *not* to code (codes which, by the way, are usually industry developed, and then adopted by government, not developed by government), and then hidden from or ignored by inspectors. This bad work is discovered when something doesn’t operate, or leaks, or isn’t performing the way it should.

    In neither show are government inspections catching the problems of unconscientious operators. They’re caught and corrected by a 3rd party agent.

  44. #44 |  Andrew S. | 

    celticdragon, I used to work for a large, independent aircraft maintenance facility. It wasn’t FAA regulation that made sure that the maintenance tech guys, the avionics guys, and everyone else who worked on those planes do such a great job. FAA inspections were the last backup, and heaven help any worker, from the line up to the supervisors, involved with an aircraft that failed at the FAA inspection level (can’t remember it happening while I was there).

  45. #45 |  JOR | 

    “Not many people will label themselves as libertarians, since most people view libertarianism as the political philosophy of Ayn Randian/Mad Max anarchists…”

    It’s true, most people are that stupid. (Ayn Rand hated libertarians, especially anarchists, and her politics were really only coincidentally libertarian on a few issues, where she followed her individualist intuitions against her egoist philosophical commitments, or where someone she sympathized with was being genuinely wronged in some way. And “Mad Max anarchists” are largely a figment of popular hysterical delusions. As Charles Johnson has said, the term “anarchy” is sort of like an ink-blot test that conjures up what a given person thinks of as the worst case social scenario, whether it’s Conservative Christian fears that Teh Geys will turn us all into homosexual pornstars, or leftoid fears that without an earthly Final Decider whose permission we need for anything other than talking or having sex, we’ll lapse into a state of total chaos.)

  46. #46 |  JS | 

    JOR “…whether it’s Conservative Christian fears that Teh Geys will turn us all into homosexual pornstars, or leftoid fears that without an earthly Final Decider whose permission we need for anything other than talking or having sex, we’ll lapse into a state of total chaos.)”

    really brilliant combination of words there!

  47. #47 |  Big A | 

    #23 albatross- We do get screwed when regulations “for our safety” eliminate options. People aren’t stupid. If someone wants to rent an overcrowded room, let them. Why is it wrong to have a choice? Why buying used cars, people can pay more and go through a dealer, which probably checked the car more thoroughly and may offer a warranty, or they can pay less and check out the car themselves. It’s a personal decision and probably more related to safety than renting a room. If someone isn’t interested in their own safety, then don’t regulate everyone else’s choice away to prevent them from doing something dumb. Regulation isn’t necessary for safety anymore than taxes are necessary for civilization.

  48. #48 |  André | 

    There are tons of places in Manhattan to sleep that won’t cost you an arm and a leg. Most of them are outside.

    So why don’t they just enforce the fucking fire code instead of heaping further burdens upon people who want to offer affordable places to sleep in New York City? I bet if this were phrased as “helping out the poor” in some bill, it would pass unanimously, just because of the eventual attack ads that could be made.

  49. #49 |  Stick | 

    I sent the ‘church billboard’ link to my pastor. He’ll get a laugh out of that.

  50. #50 |  Arthur | 

    Before Citizen United, money = political power…after Citizen United, money = political power. If anything, that decision has just made some contributions more transparent than they were previously. Furthermore, it allows for groups with less insider influence to join the party. Finally, the legal reasoning that supports a more literal reading of the 1st Amendment is so delicious and rare I cannot understand how anyone who claims to support American freedom would have a problem with it. Bottom Line: You can’t legislate the money out of politics but you can legislate the politics out of our money (in theory…with a return to enumerated powers.)

    As for this latest attack on pre-paid credit cards, I wonder how many alternate universes I would have to jump through to find one where American incomes and savings truly were personal and private???

  51. #51 |  Stick | 

    Do you vote for the candidate with the most expensive ads? How stupid do you think people are?

    Most of them are on the wrong side of the bell curve.

  52. #52 |  jesse | 

    What if FDR had kept his campaign promise and we had stayed out of that useless war, and the gold had not been confiscated, and our money stayed sound.

    Well, we wouldn’t have been able to be the only industrial country, after having bombed everyone else into oblivion, but perhaps our economy and monetary system would have stayed on a straighter and narrower path.

    Not to mention hundreds of thousands of people that would have been left alive, here to procreate, so our country would have possibly trillions of unspent government dollars and millions of unrealized citizens that are now spent and gone on both parts.

    Hey, the Founders were idiots. the USA was meant to project power and politics hither and yon, no expense spared, who are we kidding!!!!!!

  53. #53 |  Doc Merlin | 

    “Smoke or deal pot, and the SWAT team will violently break into your home in the middle of the night. But beat a man within an inch of his life, then run from the law, and the SWAT team will come for you in broad daylight, surround your house, make several announcements over a bullhorn, and give you the opportunity to surrender peacefully.”

    Well, yes, beating a man to death shows you are dangerous and willing to commit violence and SWAT doesn’t want to risk getting hurt. Where-as the average pot smoker isn’t and if they are slow in a pot case he will destroy evidence. SWAT people are rational self-interested human beings just like everyone else, and we should expect them to maximize their own utility.

  54. #54 |  marco73 | 

    Its all part of the SWAT tactics. They didn’t really need any more evidence on the beating guy, they just needed to pick him up. So no hurry, no need to put any citizens (and certainly no cops) in danger.
    But for a drug warrant, you always want to get more evidence. Forced entry in the early morning hours, kill the dog, then point your guns at someone’s kid and demand: “Where are the F** drugs!” People who are scared to death will tell you anything.
    Now if some courts were to start throwing out evidence gathered through such blatant armed force, those armed entry tactics would change. But with the recent shredding of the 4th Amendment by the Supremes, I’d expect forced entries to gather evidence to increase.

  55. #55 |  albatross | 

    Highway:

    As an independent datapoint: My sister worked for several years as a county health inspector. It was *very* hard for her to shut down restaurants, even ones with horrible sanitation. She managed it a couple times for places with godawful problems, and I’m sure that made for noticably less foodborne disease in that county.

    You can and should notice bad sanitation and lukewarm food and avoid it. (And that’s what health inspectors look for, in practice, though with more access than you have–restaurants never seem to let me wander around their kitchen looking for rodent droppings or bugs, testing the temperature of the food in the holding areas, etc.) However, it’s not easy to work out what meal made you sick all by yourself. You either need lab tests, or data from many people who ate the same thing (but didn’t share the rest of their meals) to be sure.

  56. #56 |  Pablo | 

    Speaking of dogs:

    http://www.accessatlanta.com/celebrities-tv/dog-nurses-ligers-after-955632.html?cxntlid=thbz_hm

    Something to make you feel a little better in the midst of all the bad news.

  57. #57 |  JOR | 

    “SWAT people are rational self-interested human beings just like everyone else, and we should expect them to maximize their own utility.”

    Oh for fuck’s sake. Anyone who does anything at all is trying to maximize their own utility and follow their incentives. Nobody ever thinks that is an excuse for anyone but the pigs.

  58. #58 |  celticdragon | 

    So why don’t they just enforce the fucking fire code instead of heaping further burdens upon people who want to offer affordable places to sleep in New York City?

    A fair point.

  59. #59 |  celticdragon | 

    You can and should notice bad sanitation and lukewarm food and avoid it. (And that’s what health inspectors look for, in practice, though with more access than you have–restaurants never seem to let me wander around their kitchen looking for rodent droppings or bugs, testing the temperature of the food in the holding areas, etc.)

    A good example of where government inspection can work with the free market. When you go into a restaurant…look for their health inspection scorecard, and decide for yourself. A Chinese restaurant we went to often suddenly got downgraded to a “B” and we stopped going for some time. Last week, they were back up to a 99% and we had dinner there.

  60. #60 |  albatross | 

    celticdragon:

    Also, many (though perhaps not all) chain restaurants are pretty careful to keep their restaurants up to a higher standard of cleanliness and health than the local authorities demand. ISTR that McDonalds is one example of this. A very long time ago, when I was working at a McDonalds as a college student, I remember that our store owners were utterly unworried about the county health inspector, but were scared to death of failing the McDonalds corporate inspection. (This was an announced inspection–I vividly remember scrubbing the tile floors with a bristle brush, among other things. I think they also did unannounced inspections at various depths.)

  61. #61 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    A good example of where government inspection can work with the free market. When you go into a restaurant…look for their health inspection scorecard, and decide for yourself.

    Except I cannot get my “Boyd Kitchen Safety Rating” service off the ground because of the shitty, but free, government service…which is mandatory. Luckily there are a couple hundred tech industry areas where the “freer” market is able to answer the call without a jack boot getting in the way…for now.

  62. #62 |  albatross | 

    Boyd:

    Franchise/chain restaurants are one counterexample. AAA ratings (hotels and restaurants, though the hotel ratings are more useful) are another. Zaggat guides (and all their competitors) are still another. So I’m not seeing the dead hand of government keeping you out of this market.

    The dead hand of government may well be keeping you from running a restaurant that would achieve the goal of safe food in some non-approved way (for example, you could serve your hamburger and chicken rare when ordered that way, but serve only irradiated meat so there wouldn’t be enough surviving pathogens to make anyone sick even without cooking). But it’s not keeping you from rating existing, open restaurants on whatever basis you like.

  63. #63 |  Highway | 

    albatross, that kinda furthers my point. So the government can’t even shut it down when there’s an observed problem. That’s because the process becomes political, no? On top of that, what do you think really changed in the time between the restaurant you like being ok (with you going to it) to them getting a “B” rating, and then recovering it to a 99%? Did they fire someone? Was some less than optimal ingredient sourced? Was a general practice changed? Or was the problem just cleaned up, and they get their good rating and back to business as before? You don’t know, and because the government inspector’s not coming back for six months or a year, it’s hit or miss whether they’ll catch it next time.

  64. #64 |  Highway | 

    Sorry, the second part was addressed to celticdragon again.

  65. #65 |  celticdragonchick | 

    albatross, that kinda furthers my point. So the government can’t even shut it down when there’s an observed problem. That’s because the process becomes political, no?

    How so? Isn’t that what you should want when you allow the market to make the choice? It really does take a monumental screw-up to get shut down, but a B rating at a restaurant is a real incentive to get your act together and clean up, since customers start staying away.

    I am not seeing your problem here.

  66. #66 |  Highway | 

    My problem is the faith that’s put into a government system, without actually knowing anything about the government ratings, and without any provision of effectiveness of the government system. The B rating might never have happened if the inspection was a different day, or a different inspector. Or maybe it’s just known that it got a ‘B’ rating, without knowledge of the scale. Perhaps a B is something like “Dumpster overflowing” because the trash company missed a pickup cause some jerk was parked in front of the dumpster. Or perhaps a B is something like “cleaning products stored too close to dishwasher”. Or maybe a B is something really bad, but not a worse rating because it’s the first time it was found.

    albatross’ point (well, what I took from it) was that even restaurants with an F don’t get shut down by regulators. Sometimes they don’t even have to post the rating, other times they hide it. There was a funny picture going around the internet a year or more ago of a restaurant that posted the F rating warning in their window… with similar letters around it spelling out something about the restaurant so it was hidden. So the reliance on government ratings and inspection to ensure safe food preparation just doesn’t hold up. Yet it’s treated like an end-all, be-all.

  67. #67 |  albatross | 

    Highway:

    My knowledge is limited to a small number of cases, but in those cases, my sister *was* able to close down the “F” rated restaurants, albeit with a lot of effort. But she couldn’t really close down the “C” restaurants. In her county, they didn’t even have to post ratings, though I think that’s a good idea.

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