Thursday, August 26, 2010

Your Government Inaction, Parts XXXV and XXXVI

I can't say that anything about inefficiency in government surprises me any more, but I've heard about a couple of more blood boiling episodes. First of all, the Iowa egg salmonella outbreak demonstrates once again that too many cooks spoil the broth. What is the government agency that oversees the processing and sale of eggs? The answer is, it depends based on whether the egg has been processed or not. If the eggs are not yet processed they're under the purview of the Agriculture department. After processing, it's the Food and Drug Administration in charge. As you know, the USDA focuses on things like grading agricultural products, so with eggs they're only concerned with the physical attributes of the egg and it's not their job to determine if the product is safe. That part falls on the FDA. Did anybody consider the fact that it might make sense for one agency to be in charge of eggs from the moment they're laid? Apparently not.

The next example involves the retail space near the southwest corner of Sunset and Western in Los Angeles. This was formerly home to Farm Fresh, a gem of a supermarket specializing in produce. They lost their lease and word was that a new Target store would be built there, not a bad exchange since that would be very convenient for us. Except that it's been a couple of years and nothing has been done with that space. Now word has leaked out as to what the hold up is. It seems like this retail site is in some kind of special district where the city of Los Angeles has mandated that any large operator has to provide free delivery service for their customers, something which Target is unwilling to do. Why, pray tell, is such a requirement imposed? Well, to permit people who ride bicycles or take public transit to the store to be able to purchase large items! Now nobody walks in L.A., and they don't bike or take public transit either. It is commendable to try to encourage people to do so, but to stop Target from opening up because you would like to encourage alternative means of getting to the retail site is lunacy. Indeed, this ranks right up there with Los Angeles city planners who deliberately did not provide parking space along Metrorail subway stops, because they wanted people to take connecting public transit to the subway instead of driving there. Naturally, as a result people have chosen not to take connecting public transit and not use the subway. Doesn't government ever learn? (Obviously not.)

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