He sleeps under a bridge, washes in a public bathroom and was panhandling for booze money 11 months ago, but now Larry Moore is the best-dressed shoeshine man in the city. When he gets up from his cardboard mattress, he puts on a coat and tie. It’s a reminder of how he has turned things around.
In fact, until last week it looked like Moore was going to have saved enough money to rent a room and get off the street for the first time in six years. But then, in a breathtakingly clueless move, an official for the Department of Public Works told Moore that he has to fork over the money he saved for his first month’s rent to purchase a $491 sidewalk vendor permit.
The bureaucrat told Moore that she found out about his business after reading about his success in this paper.
The article goes on to write this line: “Christine Falvey, spokeswoman for Public Works, said the department’s contact with Moore was meant to be “educational.”” – and truer words were never written. It is very educational to see that Jerry Pournelle’s observation that bureaucracies formed to help poor people end up with a vested interest in making sure that there will always be poor people is as cynically true as ever. I would also like to note that if the San Fransciscan permitting system requires that people trying to claw their way out of alcoholic hell to rejoin the rest of society jump through these kinds of hoops, then the San Franciscan permitting system has failed, and needs to be taken out to an abandoned field and set on fire.
Crossposted to Moe Lane.