Posts tagged Scratching By

Bureaucratic Rationality #7: the Louisiana State Health Department vs. Health and Adequate Nutrition in Louisiana

From occupied Louisiana, here’s how a state Health Department is forcing homeless shelters to destroy demonstrably safe and healthy meat because even though they accept the safety record of the slaughterhouse that processed it, they don’t recognize the organization that donated it, and, even though venison is something that humans have subsisted on since before recorded history, it’s not an approved meat source to be distributed commercially.

SHREVEPORT, La. (CBS Houston) — Louisiana’s State Health Department forced a homeless shelter to destroy $8,000 worth of deer meat because it was donated from a hunter organization.

KTBS-TV reports that the Shreveport-Bossier Rescue Mission lost 1,600 pounds of venison because the state’s Health Department doesn’t recognize Hunters for the Hungry, an organization that allows hunters to donate any extra game to charity.

We didn’t find anything wrong with it, Rev. Henry Martin told KTBS. It was processed correctly, it was packaged correctly.

The trouble began last month after the Department of Health and Hospitals received a complaint that deer meat was being served at the homeless shelter. A health inspector went out and told the homeless shelter that deer meat was not allowed to be served and that is had to be destroyed.

Although the meat was processed at a slaughterhouse (Bellevue) that is permitted by the Louisiana Department of Agriculture to prepare and commercially distribute meat obtained from approved farms, deer are not an approved meat source to be distributed commercially, the department said on its Facebook page. And because hunters brought the deer to the slaughterhouse, there is no way to verify how the deer were killed, prepared or stored.

So, therefore:

Martin says that bleach had to be poured onto the meat in order to destroy it.

They threw it in the dumpster and poured Clorox on it, Martin told KTBS. Not only are we losing out and it’s costing us money, the people that are hungry aren’t going to get as quality of food, the hunter that’s given his meat in good faith is losing out.

While we applaud the good intentions of the hunters who donated this meat, we must protect the people who eat at Rescue Mission, and we cannot allow a potentially serious health threat to endanger the public, the Health Department stated.

— CBS Houston (25 February 2013), Louisiana Forces Homeless Shelter to Destroy $8,000 Worth of Deer Meat

Here, as everywhere, the Licensing State operates on the fundamental assumption that anything it doesn’t know about, must be a potentially serious health threat, and the only way that it can know about anything is by checking whether or not the source has the right paper license, issued according to the state’s unilaterally dictated procedures. It doesn’t matter that literally nobody has been hurt and many people in desperate circumstances have been helped; it doesn’t matter you can show them there isn’t anything wrong with the meat; all that matters is that you can’t show them your papers. And so, rather than asking to just test some of the meat, or accepting the results of the health and safety tests that were already performed at the slaughterhouse, they sadistically insist that the food must be thrown away and rendered inedible with bleach, at tremendous expense and to the known detriment of the shelter and the health and nutrition of the homeless people who depend on it, so that they can ensure that the right forms are filled out and only officially licensed meat is served in the state of Louisiana. This sado-statist compliance hold on desperately-needed food, which insists on bureaucratic procedure and approving legal recognition at the expense of demonstrable safety, is dignified as protecting the people who eat at Rescue Mission from the food that they need to get by.

Bureaucratic rationality, n. The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may have something good in their life without your authorization.

See also.

Monday Lazy Linking

The only other known phenomenon of similar density is Four Dollar 40 Night at Babs’ in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Oh, God, it’s like every hipster joke in the Universe was pulled together and compressed until they reached the Schwarzchild radius and formed a humor event horizon — where no attempt at satire, no matter how ridiculous, can escape the gravitational pull of reality. And so these words appeared in print — not in the Onion but in the Los Angeles Times.

A wrong turn for L.A.’s food truck scene?

Kogi chef Roy Choi thinks some people miss the point of food trucks.

. . . [RoadStoves co-owner Josh] Hiller is not alone in feeling that what was once an exciting, underground food scene driven by a punk rock aesthetic and an exploratory mentality is swiftly becoming a mainstream, bottom-line-obsessed maze of infighting and politics.

When Kogi started, there were only a few new-wave food trucks on the scene; now that number is hovering near 200, says Hiller. And where experimental entrepreneurs once dominated, corporate players such as Jack in the Box and Sizzler are entering the fray.

There are other issues too, including a wealth of copycat trucks and the sense that many entering the business have no culinary experience but expect to make a fortune.

— Jessica Gelt, A wrong turn for L.A.’s food truck scene? in the Los Angeles Times Food section, 6 May 2011

(If you are curious, the rest of the story is more or less the following: self-consciously quirky gourmet food trucks have been all the rage for a couple years.[1] Now the market is getting competitive, and the first-movers are discovering, holy crap, that mature markets without high barriers to entry are often no longer dominated by experimental entrepreneurs. Because low overhead means lots of competition, and economic rents eventually dissipate as all those entrepreneurial discoveries and the results of all that market experimentation get diffused throughout society. New players jump in and incumbents have to either move on to the next big discovery, or accept the lower margins for normal business. But like a lot of folks in niche markets, their first response to competition has been to toss some indie-crafty-funk bombs about how incumbents shouldn’t have to deal with economic entropy or take some losses or work harder to please customers who are enjoying ever more options, because, dammit, they were into this scene before it got cool. Really, I like what they are doing, and so I hope they have a second response. Meanwhile, the other big squeeze on their margins, and on the viability of funky alternative street food — that is, all the regulations that are starting to crack down, and the sharp ratchet effect that this has on the fixed costs of operating — is treated as if it were simply an economic fact of nature. Rather than blaming peaceful competitors for cannibalizing your business, perhaps the energy and the outrage would be better directed at the belligerent, controlling politicos who whose periodic panic attacks are dignified as an attempt to issues presented by … nascent food truck cultures. (Actually, the folks who run food trucks and the folks who eat at them have been doing just fine; issues here are the city councils’ — but we’d all be better off if they were no longer able to make their control issues our problem.) Anyway, when margins are being squeezed there are two sides — the competitive pressure downwards on revenues, and the political pressure upwards on fixed costs. The downward pressure is from an essentially peaceful activity and means that the rest of us can get more food from more places at less cost. The upward pressure is from an essentially coercive, dominating activity that provides no-one a cheap sandwich, and mainly benefits local regulators and established restauranteurs. The thing that’s supposed to be awesome about food trucks is how they can bring people together in all kinds of different ways by getting light-weight, creative, and driving the huge fixed costs out of the economic and social equation; why not embrace that, welcome new competition, and refocus on the domming political cartels that try to shove the huge fixed costs back in, make thinner margins so difficult to deal with, and constantly force energy to be rechanneled away from experimentation and into compliance?)

  1. [1]Of course, loncheras have been around for decades. What’s changed is that professional-class white people spent years mocking loncheras with borderline-racist put-downs, when not actually going to cops and city councils in an effort to violently shut them down. But thanks to a couple of smart entrepreneurial moves a couple years ago, they got sold on food trucks all of a sudden — as long as they charge high prices, offer weird or gimmicky food options, and sport an expensive new paint job — and so now all of the sudden it’s all the rage among newspaper food writers. Which is all fine, and it’s great really, and I’m glad that folks are doing well and having a bite to eat, but if you’re going to spend all your time talking up L.A.’s neighborhoods and street food culture and funky, independent, low-overhead, mobile alternatives to the restauranteuring status quo, you might give some props to the taco trucks that were doing it decades ago, instead of starting practically every story on the New Food Truck Armada with fuck-you lines like In the past few years, a new wave of food trucks has emerged, making food trucks the latest and hippest niche in the foodie world. These trucks are not the roach coaches of days of yore. These are sophisticated gourmet eateries where the food happens to be made in a kitchen that operates inside a truck, etc. etc.

Monday Lazy Linking

Re: Guy Offers Free Rides to Keep Drunk Drivers Off the Streets, Is Arrested – Hit & Run : Reason Magazine

Guy Offers Free Rides to Keep Drunk Drivers Off the Streets, Is Arrested - Hit & Run : Reason Magazine. reason.com (2010-08-07):

Katherine Mangu-Ward | August 5, 2010 Some guy's friend gets killed by a drunk driver and he decides to do something about it. He starts a service to keep drunks off the road by offering free rides home. It turns out that Quincy, Illinois, is well stocked with semi-responsible drunks,...

In which the city government in Quincy, Illinois solves the Free Rider problem.