Turning a Solution Into a Problem

The Antonio family owns a little grocery store in the Highland Park district of Los Angeles. Plagued by taggers who covered their walls with graffiti, they finally paid $3,000 to a team of graffiti artists to paint murals on the building. Because the artists they hired had "street cred," taggers respected the work and left it alone. Problem solved? Not exactly.

"ORDER TO COMPLY," said the letter from the Building and Safety Department, which required the Antonios to remove "excessive signage" under threat of a $1,000 fine "and/or six (6) months imprisonment" for each of four alleged violations.

The Antonios called the office of Councilman Ed Reyes for help, but to little avail. One day the city sent out a work crew and just like that, the Antonios' $3,000 investment was gone, covered over with dull beige paint.

You know what happened next: taggers covered the blank walls with graffiti by the next morning. Great work, city government. You managed to respond to a problem that had been solved by making it worse.

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    Sometimes government cannot see (5.00 / 2) (#2)
    by PssttCmere08 on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 12:22:18 PM EST
    the forest for the trees.  When I lived in the Silverlake area in CA, a liquor store did the same thing, only they never had to remove it....and in the North Hollywood area, they let the tagger artists use the upper parts of the walls in the washes to create their art.

    Bueracratic Insanity.... (5.00 / 0) (#3)
    by kdog on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 12:26:05 PM EST
    Doesn't it seem like the more rules there are, the less common sense there is?

    I can't believe there is a law limiting the amount of "signage" a private business owner can paint on their private building...I'll have to add this to the never-ending list of instances of tyranny-lite.

    NYC is chock-full of beautiful grafitti murals...I hope the beige-paint brigade doesn't come east and ruin the view.

    Thank god (none / 0) (#9)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 01:08:56 PM EST

    Thank god we can look forward to more exciting tales Bureaucratic Insanity when universal health care arrives.  You ain't seen nothin' yet.

    Point taken.... (none / 0) (#10)
    by kdog on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 01:22:05 PM EST
    I'm starting to look at universal healthcare as something to be feared instead of cheered.

    I wouldn't trust city, state, or federal bueracrats to tie my shoes...much less provide healthcare.

    But then again, is there a difference between govt. bueracratic insanity and corporate bueracratic insanity?  Insurance co's are no better...but at least you have the option not to do business with insurance co's.  Uncle Sam gives you no such choice.


    Or didn't you get the memo?

    Back on topic, I'm surprised the city didn't charge the Antonios to paint over their mural.


    you prefer complex regulation to simple? (none / 0) (#13)
    by rilkefan on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 01:32:15 PM EST
    good for you. </insurance co.s>

    Heh (none / 0) (#14)
    by Steve M on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 01:45:28 PM EST
    Of course, right now there are millions of people with stories about their nightmare experiences with private insurance companies.  The only difference is that there isn't a well-financed right-wing noise machine to publicize each and every incident as evidence of why you shouldn't trust insurance companies.

    Thanks god there are none (none / 0) (#17)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 01:51:13 PM EST
    with similar stories about the DMV, IRS, LA's Building and Safety Dept, UK's NHC, Canada's NHC (Medicare), etc., etc., etc...

    Like buttah.


    But of course (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by Steve M on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 02:01:44 PM EST
    no one is actually arguing that there is no such thing as a bureaucratic nightmare, that's solely your strawman.  In fact, my comment quite clearly acknowledged that such stories exist - and are routinely played up by people with an ideological agenda to convince you through anecdotal evidence that government is useless.

    Just as with the issue of waiting times, we never hear about the guy in L.A. who can't get an appointment for 2 months, but we hear all about the guy in England who can't get an appointment for 2 months!  Why?  Because there are people with an anti-UHC agenda who have the money and resources to publicize the latter sort of anecdotes.


    If are acknowledging (none / 0) (#19)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 02:04:21 PM EST
    that UHC ain't no nirvana, I'm with you.

    Not nirvana (none / 0) (#22)
    by rilkefan on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 03:14:08 PM EST
    just a lot better than the current mess (esp. for the currently uninsured, of course, but also for the rest of us who have to deal with changing coverage with new jobs and argue with the insurance companies over whether the doctor at the local hospital was in-network or not and spend a huge amount on duplicated effort and etc. etc.)

    The sky hasn't fallen in MA (none / 0) (#21)
    by CST on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 02:20:17 PM EST
    Although we haven't quite achieved UHC yet.  For everyone who already had healthcare, nothing changed.  No Bureaucratic insanity.  For those who didn't have health care, there may be some insanity (I don't know, I have it from my job); but compared to the insanity of having to get basic care in an emergency room, I imagine this is better.  Now, there are other problems with it, like the fact that you pay a fine if you don't have insurance, but that's not related to bureaucracy.

    My main point is, for the vast majority of people, uhc doesn't change a thing.  It doesn't cause outrageous lines at the doctor, or anything like that...


    UHC Changes a great deal for those without health (none / 0) (#23)
    by liberalone on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 04:15:15 PM EST
    insurance.  There are millions of Americans without jobs or with jobs and no health care.  It would mean a great deal to them.  While I agree with your basic premise of no major changes for those with health care, I think that with time everyone would see a benefit.

    Over time with UHC or some semblance thereof, you will have fewer folks using the emergency room as a primary care physician, which should help to increase efficiency and decrease costs for emergency care.  Corporations would have a leg up in global competition, as their costs of providing health insurance would eventually go down.  Individuals with private health insurance through their employers would also see a decrease in costs and have the comfort of knowing that they and their families are protected in the event of a job loss.

    IF, and this is a BIG if, we do coverage correctly, UHC will help our economy far more than any of us can imagine.  UHC is not nirvana but with time I think most Americans, like most Brits, will agree its benefits outweigh its cost.


    Well, I'm not so sure about much of that. (none / 0) (#24)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 04:19:53 PM EST
    But, for the record, there are essentially zero Americans w/o health care, though many w/o health insurance. It is a distinction with a difference.

    Waiting to go to the ER (none / 0) (#27)
    by rilkefan on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 04:52:30 PM EST
    when a problem is bad enough isn't having health care.

    Agreed (none / 0) (#25)
    by CST on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 04:19:59 PM EST
    The main point of my post was not that there is no benefit of UHC, but that it doesn't harm those who like their insurance the way it is now.  It was in response to a "UHC will be the death of healthcare" type of post.

    Agreed (none / 0) (#26)
    by liberalone on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 04:35:59 PM EST
    I realize what your response related to and I agree with your basic premise.  I was giving my opinion, not to refute your statement. (Off the main topic as it was.)

    As for the sarcastic one, since you are into distinctions, I don't need to tell you that you cannot state that there are zero Americans w/o health care.  I am certain that you understood my point regardless of the incorrect use of the term health care instead of health insurance.


    No, you don't need to tell me, (none / 0) (#28)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 04:53:19 PM EST
    I'm the one who used the word "essentially" as a modifier to the word "zero" for the exact reason you point out. I'm surprised you missed it.

    On the greater point, our constant misuse of the phrase "health care" in place of "health insurance," in my experience, can lead to some people forgetting that, essentially, all Americans have health care.


    still nonsense n/t (none / 0) (#29)
    by rilkefan on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 05:27:42 PM EST
    oh, I just figured it out (5.00 / 0) (#4)
    by DandyTIger on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 12:32:06 PM EST
    the problem we're having with government stuff like this, is because people that find their way into these government positions are clear among the stupidest people alive on the planet. No snark, I'm not kidding. People that get into government are stunningly stupid. I wish we could have some sort of test before you're allowed to run for elective office, or before you can take even non elected positions in government. I know, you have to make your way out of a big wet paper bag. That would eliminate about half of them.

    The old saying goes.... (5.00 / 0) (#5)
    by kdog on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 12:39:06 PM EST
    "those who can't, teach".

    Might be time to revise that to "those who can't work for the govt."


    ooooh SNAP k-dog :) (none / 0) (#6)
    by PssttCmere08 on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 12:46:14 PM EST
    Sorry, but this kind of (none / 0) (#16)
    by tree on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 01:50:53 PM EST
    mindless stereotype ticks me off. I've worked enough years for incredibly stupid private companies with incredibly stupid people in positions they had no right to be in to know that people in government are no stupider or more incompetent than those in the private sector. But, go ahead, push those Republican memes.

    Actually... (none / 0) (#20)
    by kdog on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 02:16:25 PM EST
    with me it's a libertarian meme:)

    Point taken...it's not just govt., the same bueracratic stupidity exists in the private sector.  The difference is I'm not forced to deal with Microsoft or GM...I am forced to deal with the government.  And when I am forced to deal with a corporation, like my auto insurance co, that is because of government mandate.

    The bigger the bueracracy, the more stupidity to be found...whether public or private.  That's why it is better to keep govt. small, and why it is always easier to do business with a small business as opposed to a massive corporation.  Less is truly more.


    Dandy....so true, so true (none / 0) (#7)
    by PssttCmere08 on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 12:46:39 PM EST
    Should have called ACLU or (none / 0) (#1)
    by oculus on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 12:17:49 PM EST
    a lawyer familiar with the state law mandating an artist's public work not be removed unless certain exceptions apply.  

    Then again, (none / 0) (#8)
    by bocajeff on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 12:59:12 PM EST
    Maybe the problem is the original problem: vandalism...

    If the city allowed this then what is to stop every building from putting up their own "art" and creating a visual nuisance as well as other problems?

    That is what building codes and enforcement are all about.

    It's up to the owner.... (none / 0) (#12)
    by kdog on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 01:26:57 PM EST
    of the building ain't it Jeff?  Or should be?

    One mans vandalism is another mans work of art...I don't want the govt., through the building code, to decide for me or you.  All the building code should be concerned with is safe enough to occupy...thats got nothing to with the paint on the walls...unless its lead paint.


    The Moral (none / 0) (#15)
    by tek on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 01:49:47 PM EST
    of this story is that the authorities should be making as big an effort to control domestic terrorists (street gangs) as they are to combat foreign terrorists, who are a much smaller threat to the majority of Americans.

    You can't criticize gangs who paint graffiti on small businessmen's walls and then come out in support of an insecure border.  The Mexican Mafia extorts money from all independent businesses in the immigrant areas of L. A., which is too ironic since the businessmen are in the country legally and the gangs are not.  But we should let people come in illegally and then let them all stay, right?  And they should not be reported to the authorities even when they commit crimes, right (San Francisco)?