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Adventures in Government Land Use Regulation:

UCLA law professor Steve Bainbridge recounts the following personal experience with the LA land use bureaucracy:

My wife and I wanted to put an addition on our house here in the City of Los Angeles. Our general contractor told us that the first thing we had to do was get up-to-date zoning and property information from the Building Pemits Department. He recommended that we hire a "fixer" who was used to dealing with the bureaucracy. That was 2 months ago. Today, we were informed by the City zoning department that they could not give us the necessary zoning information ... because, according to zoning records, our house does not exist! On top of which, the zoning folks also had no record of the street on which we live.

I was speechless until it occurred to me to ask why, if our house doesn't exist, we have to pay property taxes and so on. The answer? "That's another department." Back to being speechless. I then recovered enough to ask what we had to do to have the existence of our house established, which I thought would be a simple process - after all, you can see it on Google Earth. I was told we would first have to have a hearing to determine whether the street that runs in front of our house is a public street or private road. Given the backlog, it would be about a year before that process could be completed. Then we'd have to have another hearing to establish the existence of our house. Then we'd have to apply for a building permit, geological inspection, etcetera etcetera. At which point, I gave up in despair....

Obviously, we should be cautious about generalizing from a single case. But it is worth noting that Bainbridge couldn't find a way to solve this problem despite the fact that he is a prominent legal scholar with (as he notes later in the post) connections in city hall. Things may be even worse for less well-connected LA property owners. The moral of the story: even seemingly reasonable government regulations may seem undesirable once we recgonize that they will be administered by bureaucrats with little or no incentive to cater to citizens' needs.

UPDATE: I initially forgot to link to Steve Bainbridge's original post. That problem has now been fixed.

UPDATE #2: To my mind, the biggest howler here is not that the City's records were so inaccurate (though that is bad enough), but that this relatively simple problem is likely to take years to fix.

James B. (mail):
I think I remember this plot from an episode of Green Acres.
9.16.2007 5:17pm
John (mail):
This is quite easy. Begin a suit for a refund of real estate taxes on the grounds that the city is estopped to assert that there is any property to tax. Then, when the city lawyers get involved, it may be possible for things to get resolved.

I'm not sure that the state can be estopped, as a general matter, of course, but that's what a lawprof's students are there to find out.
9.16.2007 5:19pm
theobromophile (www):
Put the addition on before the hearing. Voila!
9.16.2007 5:24pm
33yearprof:
If the house doesn't exist, there can be no addition, so ... vola' no building permit is needed (for the imaginary addition to the imaginary house...).
9.16.2007 5:31pm
WWJRD (mail):
or perhaps...
The owner prior to the Bainbridge's hired a "fixer" who sneaked in the house and the road leading to it against zoning regulations.

So when he goes to build further, they want to examine the current structure and the surrounding property (incl. roadway). That would make sense.

Does he say if he's got immediate neighbors adjacent on the same street, or if this is some kind of unusual property setup? If the latter, I would hope you don't just green-light further building at the site, because somebody else fixed it so the original structure was slipped in.
9.16.2007 5:32pm
WWJRD (mail):
I wouldn't be too quick to drop my UCLA law prof. credentials in City Hall either. That looks like you're gunning for special treatment, and they may choose to investigate the situation even further. Sometimes it's better not to balk unless you want to be squeezed further.
9.16.2007 5:35pm
therut:
I started building on about 2,000 sq.feet to my existng home two months ago. Just started one day. No evil "code" enforcers, no permits. Nothing. No labor union electrician, builder,plummer or septic tank guys. No heavy equiptment union labor guy to haul the gravel or work the backhoe or bulldozer. Even drew up my house plans myself. No one to tell me where to do what with the electric, road,sewer etc. Not one thing from one .gov goon. Just one of the perks and freedoms of living in a rural area where my land in more mine than most. I do understand why people in large cities find it so easy to look to government and think it is a good thing. You are naturally used to the concept. I personally would go MAD. Not mention the money saved from the palms not greased and fee for this and that and overpriced union work. I feel your pain. Really!!!
9.16.2007 5:39pm
WWJRD (mail):
Gumball machine lawyer, indeed!
My favorite comment from Bainbridge's thread:

"why do you need a permit to do work on a house that does not exist?"

Exactly what I was thinking. Build the addition. What does it matter? It won't exist anyways, as far as the city is concerned.

Posted by: the Rising Jurist | September 13, 2007 at 09:10 AM
9.16.2007 5:45pm
taney71:
Pay money under the table and get it done that way. That is how we do it in DC.
9.16.2007 5:53pm
CDU (mail):
No link to the original post?
9.16.2007 6:06pm
Steve2:
I know some people who've gotten free sewer service - despite multiple attempts to pay for it! - for the past twelve or so years because the assorted bureaucracies insist not only that the sewer connection doesn't exist, but the sewer pipe to which it connects doesn't exist (which makes me wonder if the whole neighborhood's getting free sewer service) and the terrain's such that it couldn't be built even if they wanted to. This despite the homeowner's possession of the 1970s easement or whatever that the then-neighbor granted for the sewer connection to go through his yard. And that the septic tank they're supposedly using doesn't exist - and probably would've been noticed when they did some renovating and additions. Or, you know, needed emptying some time during those twelve years.

So, a second case, though slightly different, and in Atlanta.
9.16.2007 6:09pm
Bottomfish (mail):
Is there any way Bainbridge could tell his story to reporters for the NY Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe, and so on, which would then run it as an example of crazy bureaucracy, and overregulation, just as they run so many stories obviously intended to dramatize the way they don't like the Bush admnistration?
9.16.2007 6:13pm
nelziq:
Homeowners, i.e constituents, surely have no love for government land-use planning agencies. If so, where does the political demand for such agencies come from? Who benefits exactly? The bureaucracies themselves? Large developers? City hall who uses the power as a political tool? Im sure they don't exist merely to annoy libertarians. What is the real politik here?
9.16.2007 6:23pm
Ilya Somin:
No link to the original post?

Oops, sorry, I will fix that.
9.16.2007 6:50pm
crane (mail):
nelziq -

I suspect that homeowners do, in fact, support land-use regulation (and thus accept the necessity of enforcement agencies) in large part because it prevents their neighbors doing things they don't like. To use an extreme example, how many suburbanites would be willing to see a hog-rendering operation open up next door to them?
9.16.2007 6:51pm
Brooks Lyman (mail):
Hog Rendering? Now there's an idea. In my town, we're allowed to have up to 9 pigs; one guy - a consulting psychologist, not some redneck type - with a very prominently placed lot in the center of town and a raft of troubles from the zoning/building people went and did just that. Needless to say, the bureaucrats (and his neighbors) were pissed. He told me that he came to like pigs, though....

As some other people have suggested, I would advise professor Bainbridge to go ahead and build; if the city complains, he can tell them to go look up his lot. The downsides are several: 1) The city may fine him or send in the cops to throw him out of his (imaginary) house. 2) The building inspector, imaginary house or not, may issue a cease and desist order and force him (government is force, as Washington pointed out) to tear down what he has built to date, possibly including his whole house. 3) If (as sounds likely) he is hiring the work done, he may have trouble finding a reputable (read: experienced, careful, skilled, not to mention honest) contractor who will do the work for him, as working without a building permit puts the contractor at jeopardy of losing his license or whatever.
9.16.2007 7:23pm
wm13:
Bainbridge should have done some due diligence (or hired a lawyer to do some due diligence) BEFORE he bought the house.
9.16.2007 7:37pm
David Sucher (mail) (www):
I wish we knew all the facts.

I hate these anecdotes from people who have a known gripe with government. Yes, their story may well be true — I have seen more idiocy than most — but I am always curious about stories like this one and wonder what facts I am missing.

The answer could be as simple as a mistake in addressing.

As to actually finding out his zoning, that's usually mapped so Bainbridge can just go to a map and look. If he doesn't see his street on it at that point, he might have a problem.
9.16.2007 7:38pm
KC (mail):
As an architectural historian, I can assure you that it is very common for cities and counties to have sloppy planning and assessment records. This is especially so if a property dates back more than 30 years.
9.16.2007 8:33pm
Guest101:
"The moral of the story: even seemingly reasonable government regulations may seem undesirable once we recgonize that they will be administered by bureaucrats with little or no incentive to cater to citizens' needs."

Or, the moral of the story is that local taxes should be increased to give the local bureaucracy the resources it needs to adequately manage the highly complex L.A. zoning system which I presume must include at least tens of thousands of streets and houses. Having worked as a bureaucrat of sorts in an overworked governmental agency (i.e., a clerk in federal district court, which is probably funded a lot better than the L.A. zoning department), I suspect the problem isn't so much apathetic city employees as a simple lack of resources necessary to address all of the problems and complaints that arise in administering the system. If you're offering this anecdote in support of some libertarian/small government perspective, it should be noted that it doesn't really cut in favor of such an approach at all without some pre-existing committment to libertarian principles.
9.16.2007 8:39pm
neurodoc:
This is the kind of story the media loves. I bet a problem like this one would be solved in less than a day after it was publicized. (And those with an axe to grind will be talking about it for years to come, along with other favorites like the lady scalded by McDonald's coffee.)
9.16.2007 9:23pm
Mac (mail):
Bottomfish wrote,
"Is there any way Bainbridge could tell his story to reporters for the NY Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe, and so on, which would then run it as an example of crazy bureaucracy, and overregulation, just as they run so many stories obviously intended to dramatize the way they don't like the Bush admnistration?"

Nah, they want Big Government so they don't want people to think too much about the multitude of government screw-ups. It would be hard to convince people to give the Government even more power over their lives than they already have if they front page things like this.
Can you imagine if Government ran our health care? John Doe would go into the ER needing an emergency apendectomy, only to be told he doesn't exist in the Government computers, so can't have surgery. Actually, I fear the real fiascos would make the one I just presented look tame.

Guesst wrote,
"I suspect the problem isn't so much apathetic city employees as a simple lack of resources necessary to address all of the problems and complaints that arise in administering the system."



Whatever make you think that there is any lack of resources in LA and that raising taxes would make anything better? When has giving incompetent Government more money ever led to an increase in performance? Look at New Orleans and the continuing absurdity that is occurring there. They certainly don't lack for resources, but they sure do from leadership, starting with Ray Nagan and going up to the Governor and beyond. Thus far, millions upon millions wasted.

Paying incompetents more, just gives you either wealthier incompetents or more of them if more are hired. When management and the system they have set up is so bad that they can't fix a simple problem like this, there is no solution as there is no cure for STUPID.
9.16.2007 9:26pm
Jim Rhoads (mail):
Prof Bainbridge might consider making a claim against his title insurance carrier, depending on the wording of his policy.

Also, these facts might be a job for a mighty mandamus action or perhaps a claim for a declaratory judgment. At least that would be a possibility in Georgia.

Seems to me the building inspector's position lacks equity and puts the owner in an untenable situation.

Duly authenticated postal records, photographs, plats, deeds and mortgages together with tax records (including the latest assessment) should convince a judge of general jurisdiction that the property exists and that its address is established.
9.16.2007 9:36pm
Brian G (mail) (www):
Put the addition on and risk the zoning issue. I did that a few years ago and no one ever said anything. (Of course, if you don't have good relations with your neighbors or they are the jealous type, your experience may vary). Get it done and pay the fine. It'll all come out the same in the end anyway, or something close to it.
9.16.2007 9:37pm
Brian K (mail):
Mac,

what makes you think these people are incompetent? Pointing to new orleans is not proof of anything in LA. and yes, i heard constant complaints of underfunding when I lived in cali.
9.16.2007 10:09pm
Thinker:
Let's not be silly. This is a weird anamoly. Zoning isn't perfect - but thanks to GPS, GIS, Sattelite imagery and a gazillion other tools - life is actually better. I've been a zoning chair in a small New England town as well as a land use law prof - administrative foul ups at this scale are pretty rare.
9.16.2007 10:14pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
If this story is true. The answer is horsewhipping. You take every single city bureaucratic who bears the remotest responsibility to this answer and you horsewhip them until they fix the problem and till there isn't slightest whiff of such a problem in the future.
9.16.2007 10:18pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
Or, the moral of the story is that local taxes should be increased to give the local bureaucracy the resources it needs to adequately manage the highly complex L.A. zoning system which I presume must include at least tens of thousands of streets and houses.

Or the moral of the story is beaurocrats don't give answers like this unless they have the facts. And if they can't find the facts within a reasonable period of time (a week) then beaurocrats get fired and/or you get the build what you'd like regardless of what the zoning law says. If they don't have the proper "resources" then bully for them, they don't get to enforce their zoning laws.
9.16.2007 10:24pm
NickM (mail) (www):
Guest101 - you've never dealt with L.A. city employees if you say that. I attempted a few years ago to file a complaint against a business operating without a permit.
Employees at three different departments in City Hall (technically 2 in City Hall and 1 in the City Hall East Annex) each informed me it was a different department that received complaints. Since it circled back to the original department, I gave up.

Some cities actually have real hiring standards. Los Angeles isn't one of them.

Nick
9.16.2007 10:32pm
Mac (mail):

Brian,

If this is not a prime example of a dysfunctional and "I don't care", I don't know what is. Constant complaints of underfunding is an excuse not a reason and actually using more money to improve the the functioning of the bureacracy never happens. If this is not incompetent, then I don't know what is. Obviously, they don't care, period.

I have worked for different levels of government and now work at the Federal level. There is a bundle of money in the Agency for which I work and I can only shake my head at the waste. When things get tight again, they'll wish they had spent it a lot more wisely. However, given the idiotic way that we fund government, It's a spend it or lose it reality. No one else could run a business like the government handles their affairs and not go bankrupt.

PS How have you been? I've been working and traveling too much to get on here for quite some time. Well, I hope.
9.16.2007 10:34pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Brian G: that's fine until it comes time to sell the house. (Although if he's putting on an addition, he's probably not looking to sell anytime soon.)
9.16.2007 10:50pm
Brian K (mail):
Mac,

I agree this is a prime example of "I don't care"...but that is one attitude held by most low level/low pay public and private employees i've interacted with. That's why I don't shop at walmart...i have a better chance of finding what I want by using a search dog than finding an employee that is actually willing and able to help me. But that doesn't necessarily mean anyone is incompetent...they just won't go out of there way to help you.

But from the original post:
I was told we would first have to have a hearing to determine whether the street that runs in front of our house is a public street or private road. Given the backlog, it would be about a year before that process could be completed. Then we'd have to have another hearing to establish the existence of our house. Then we'd have to apply for a building permit, geological inspection, etcetera etcetera. (emphasis mine)

The phrase "given the backlog" implies there is too much work and not enough people to do it, which is ultimately a funding problem.

The string of "then we'd have to..."'s implies layers upon layers of bureaucracy...in other words a structural problem. who's ultimately responsible for this? the legislature by crafting poor laws. but poor system design is not a problem seen only in the public sector. ever try getting an erroneous charge removed from a phone/cable bill? or dealing with paypal's fraud dispute people? I have...and it sure ain't fun. I know people who would rather teach med students how to give prostrate exams rather than deal with these people. (literally...I learned how to do it on monday)

And to finish it off...this guy is most likely having all of his problems because some unscrupulous contractor skimped on the paper work and not because some government employee screwed up. Why spend the money to do things right when you can earn a greater profit by cutting corners? By the time the buyer figures out what's wrong the contractor is long gone.

However, given the idiotic way that we fund government, It's a spend it or lose it reality.
I agree with you here...it just seems like we have different ideas of what to do about it.

[I've been doing pretty...school has been keeping me pretty busy. hopefully everything else has been going okay with you, besides being overworked...haha.]
9.17.2007 12:12am
Bruce:
The moral of the story: even seemingly reasonable government regulations may seem undesirable once we recgonize that they will be administered by bureaucrats with little or no incentive to cater to citizens' needs.

That's the moral? Why isn't the moral just that the L.A. city government needs to get it's act together? I don't see the need to get all dystopian about it.
9.17.2007 12:20am
serns:
Building an unpermitted addition could result in more than fines, since it skips safety inspection points and could result in the city requiring you to tear out parts of the construction to get back to the inspection point. And by the way, I think code enforcement, which is part of the permitting and inspection process, is a good thing. (pseudocredential: I'm a former real estate brat)

Mac: I was somehow under the impression that post-Katrina New Orleans DOES lack for resources, relative to the costs of rebuilding houses/dikes/etc. Can you elaborate on your position?

Brooks Lyman: You left off "bonded" in your list of reasons to hire a licensed contractor (and verify both the license and the bond)--without that, I believe workers can get a lien placed on the house, if the contractor walks without, say, paying them.
9.17.2007 12:55am
Felix Sulla:

"Obviously, we should be cautious about generalizing from a single case."
Turning over a new leaf, Professor?
9.17.2007 1:10am
Harry Eagar (mail):
That therut is one talented guy: electrical, plumbing, backhoe, omnicompetent.

However, having seen the results of unlicensed electrical and plumbing work, I'd be leery of an invite to his house.

As for LA streets, the city has grown fast and overrun places that -- as in therut's area -- didn't have much government until recently.

Any fast-growing community is likely to have similar vacuua.

In my county, for example, there is a long street in what is now the middle of downtown that has no owner. It was built in 1946 as part of a housing development and should have been dedicated to the county. It wasn't, but in those days nobody cared. The man who built the street is dead. Presumably in law the street was part of his estate, but who the hell knows who has that now?

The owners on the street would like to have the county take it over, which it won't because it doesn't meet code; and it can't be widened because the setbacks are too small; and 21st century firetrucks are too big to get through.

This is not necessarily, or at least not only, due to government incompetence.
9.17.2007 1:42am
Happyshooter:
So he didn't hire a fixer---or didn't hire one that is expensive enough.
9.17.2007 11:08am
Tracy W (mail):
Ah well, my father-in-law was told by the NZ passport office that he didn't exist. He tried to refer them to IRD, to whom he had a long and intricate, if not entirely happy, relationship, but no go.

What we think happened is that because he and *his* father arrived in NZ on the same day with very similar names, someone assumed that there had been an accidental double entry in the lists and deleted his name.

This is the point when you call your MP, or councillor, or whoever who is dependent on votes and is closest to the planning agency.
9.17.2007 1:08pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
therut -- I'm glad you're so talented, but I would never buy your house from you because there's no proof you know what the hell you're doing. In contrast, a friend of mine in Michigan who added 2500 square feet to his house, even digging the footings himself, by hand, first submitted his plans to the county, then had each stage of the work inspected and signed off. So any potential buyer can be satisfied the house will neither fall down nor catch fire.
9.17.2007 1:13pm
NickM (mail) (www):
Brian K - from anecdotal evidence I've received from L.A. cops about the bad maps the city has given the department, I'd guess what happened is some city employee misspelled the street name when computerizing the records, such that a search for that name reveals nothing.

Nick
9.17.2007 2:49pm
Elliot123 (mail):
Is nonsense like this more likely in the public or private sector?
9.17.2007 4:47pm
Brian K (mail):
Nick, that may or may not be true...I have little experience with the LAPD.

But somehow I don't think that is the same department. Why would the zoning department be responsible for making maps for the police? It is clearly stated in the opening comments that different departments have different information so we can't make assumptions like the one you seem to be trying to make.
9.17.2007 5:55pm
NickM (mail) (www):
Brian K - I don't think it was zoning who made the maps for the police. I expect that all city maps trace back to the same original source (and property taxes are assessed by and paid to the county, meaning that they would be using a wholly different system), such that a mistake by a person entering map data into the computer would affect every city department that uses those maps.

Nick
9.17.2007 6:25pm
Mac (mail):
Brian K.
I grant you that poor system design is not limited to governmemt, but in the private sector we have choices. And, yes, I fought with Verizon for 2 years until I finally got a human being who cared and fixed the entry that said I had terminated my service instead of transferred my service to another city. It was a nightmare, but by then I was no longer a Verizon customer as I switched to Sprint and have been most pleased with their customer service. The difference is that when government does not work, you have no where else to go. If a corporation screws up enough, it will go out of business. Government just goes on and on. And, if you want to see what the problems are in New Orleans, just Google New Orleans money. The bureaucracy can't even figure out now to give the money away. What is going on in New Orleans is a nightmare and even businesses who have gone in wanting to help have been defeated by the bureacrats at all levels of government.

Government has an insatiable appetite for money but it is divorced from delivering the goods. Another approach would be to concentrate on the important stuff and get rid of the nonsense. Quit trying to regulate everything. Heck, before Katrina New Orleans "lost" a hundred million dollars that was supposed to go to the New Orleans school districts. Just "lost" it. That is according to an article in the Times-Picayune. You really think the same people who "lost" a hundred million dollars can rebuid New Orleans? I don't. Government simply does not function. Look at the bridge collapse in Minn. They knew since the early 90's that that bridge needed repair. It was not a lack of money thast kept them from fixing it. Partly, it was the bureacrats responsible for fixing it never asked for the money and it was State government sinking billionss into mass transit that will be used by a few and ignoring the infrastructure. No glory in fixing bridges. Lots of glory in mass transit for a small section of the city.

Also, you have no reason to believe that a contractor had anything to do with the screw up. The city sould know if a house is built esp. 30 years ago. I can't imagine any contractor building a house without a permit as the city can make him tear it down. The risk is too great and there is no return on that kind of behavior.

PS I take it you are going to specialize in something "higher up" that the prostate?
9.17.2007 6:44pm
therut:
Don't get your panties in a wad. And I am a SHE not a HE. And don't worry cause I do not plan to sell my 40 acres of heaven to anyone who would not appreciate it. I will NEVER probably sell unless somehow I get incorporated into a city limit then it is time to move to the 1000 acre farm. Good grief are you guys so scared of your OWN decisions. I could have got a tie and shirt contractor and payed all the extra money but I trust my friend who has done work for going on 30 years for many physcians, lawyers etc. His work is excellent and he would never stoop to pay the .gov for a piece of paper to do his work. Some people are just made to live more FREE than others.
9.17.2007 9:01pm
Fub:
therut wrote at 9.17.2007 8:01pm:
Some people are just made to live more FREE than others.
Apparently. Unfortunately those who don't trust competence without paperwork have long ago made the laws so that government inflicts everybody with paperwork, but nobody in government service is required (or in some cases even allowed) to be competent.
9.17.2007 10:40pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
I will NEVER probably sell unless somehow I get incorporated into a city limit then it is time to move to the 1000 acre farm.

Good idea. Let your kids or other heirs deal with the lack of proof of competent workmanship. At worst, the new owner will bulldoze the house.
9.18.2007 12:55am
Brian K (mail):
Mac,

The difference is that when government does not work, you have no where else to go.
I don't agree here. While it is true that there is only one government, it is not always the same government. By this I mean that it changes with each reelection. If you don't like something the government does or does not do, vote someone in who will change it. If a politician screws up (i.e. does something that the voters don't like) he will be kicked out of the election in the next election. I realize that there are problems with this (e.g. gerrymandering) but there are also problems with the "just take your business elsewhere response" as it is not always practical or possible.

Another approach would be to concentrate on the important stuff and get rid of the nonsense.
I agree here in theory...in practice this isn't going to be easy...everyone has a difference sense of what is important.

You really think the same people who "lost" a hundred million dollars can rebuid New Orleans?
No...which is why new orleaninian (?) should elect new people. but i think the government losing money is much broader than that...hundreds of millions (or billions?) have just disappeared in some of the iraq contracts too...but not too many people are making the argument that the government should stop waging war. companies also lose money...which has real consequences on people. ("investors" can lose their life savings when a company like enron goes out of business)

No glory in fixing bridges. Lots of glory in mass transit for a small section of the city.
I agree here. this is one reason why i dislike single issue voters. in their zeal to elect a person who agrees with them on that single issue they tend to overlook other flaws. i would much rather elect someone that i know would be a competent leader even if i don't agree with them on every issue.

Also, you have no reason to believe that a contractor had anything to do with the screw up. The city sould know if a house is built esp. 30 years ago.
true, but i won't rule out as a possibility...many things could have gone wrong and without more information regarding the history of the house it's not possible for us to pinpoint a cause. but i don't think that the house was built 30 years is an effective counter argument. i have no idea what building requirements were back then but i doubt they were the exact same as they are today.

I can't imagine any contractor building a house without a permit as the city can make him tear it down. The risk is too great and there is no return on that kind of behavior.
Oh...i can definitely find a contractor willing to do it (cough my parents next door neighbor cough) but i don't know why any person would pay the contractor to do it. but as therut's anecdote shows rules differ wildly depending on city and whether land is incorporated or not.

[i most definitely will...although i have no idea what yet...well no surgery haha. but i still go time to figure that out.]
9.18.2007 1:12am
Mac (mail):
Brian,

I don't agree here. While it is true that there is only one government, it is not always the same government. By this I mean that it changes with each reelection. If you don't like something the government does or does not do, vote someone in who will change it.

No, I disagree. The bureaucracy has a life all it's own. Even the politicians can't fight the bureaucracy. It is a force of it's own. With guaranteed jobs and almost no way to fire government employees, they don't have to listen to the politicians. It is actually rather frightening.

Why not surgery? Other than the fact that a great many surgeons are a bit confused as to who God is and prefer their patients comatose, it seems pretty cool to me. Some kinds anyway. Heart surgery would drive me nuts. Those itty, bitty stiches. ugh! My surgeon is the exception and I would trust him with my life.
Come to think of it, I have on several occassions. I think GP is the most interesting because of all the different problems they deal with every day. However, they are low man on the totem pole. I think they should be the quarterback, myself. Too many chiefs can make for big screw ups. Someone should be running the show and coordinating the effort. However, no one has asked my opinion, so I don't think that is likely to happen. :-)
9.18.2007 4:17am
Brian K (mail):
No, I disagree. The bureaucracy has a life all it's own. Even the politicians can't fight the bureaucracy. It is a force of it's own. With guaranteed jobs and almost no way to fire government employees, they don't have to listen to the politicians. It is actually rather frightening.

I agree here to some extent, but I don't think it is a deal killer. I hear every so often in the financial news that some CEO managed to change the culture of the corporation and turn it around...which I doubt is an easy task. This proves that it can be done if you have a competent leader willing to to take risks. That's exactly the type of person that doesn't get elected often enough for a variety of reasons.

One of the reforms that needs to be done is changing the hiring and firing process...and that will take a politician with a lot of cajones. But it needn't start there. Take this post for example. All the citizens of LA need to do is elect someone who will remove some of the red tape and lessen the paperwork...then freeze hiring and let attrition get rid of the excess. I think the reason that this hasn't happened is because people don't care about it. (I wouldn't be surprised if some people actually enjoyed it as it gives them something constantly to complain about.) It's much easier for a politician to stick to party line and guarantee reelection that rock the boat and rely on a public that probably doesn't even know is his name to reelect him for doing his job right.


Why not surgery? Other than the fact that a great many surgeons are a bit confused as to who God is and prefer their patients comatose, it seems pretty cool to me. Some kinds anyway. Heart surgery would drive me nuts. Those itty, bitty stiches. ugh! My surgeon is the exception and I would trust him with my life.
It's good to hear that you have a good surgeon :) One of the main reasons why I switched from engineering to med school was that I enjoyed talking to and interacting with the patients. From what I gather surgeons don't do much of that...but i'll see for certain next year during rotations. I also kinda want to have a life and be able to see my (future) kids once in a while...and as a general rule surgeons don't have one. But yeah...surgeons have some serious skills and they got all the hot nurses haha.

I think GP is the most interesting because of all the different problems they deal with every day. However, they are low man on the totem pole. I think they should be the quarterback, myself. Too many chiefs can make for big screw ups. Someone should be running the show and coordinating the effort. However, no one has asked my opinion, so I don't think that is likely to happen.
I agree here completely. And actually many people have been advocating your exact opinion...but yeah...its not going to happen. There are too many pressures trying to keep GPs salary low and too much prejudice against them from the other specialties...they're seen as the people who couldn't hack it in a specialty. but they're are a lot of talented GPs out there (a good friend of mine is hoping to be one) and they can have a significant beneficial impact on their patients care. haha...i myself am leaning towards neurology but who knows how long that will last...i already went through cardiology and nephrology.

One that does really tick me off about the medical field, especially as I learn more, is the surprising number of misdiagnoses and made up illnesses. thoracic outlet syndrome is a very rare syndrome that was way over diagnosed 20 or years ago...a lot surgeons got rich and a lot of patients lost a rib or two. then there is depression and ADHD...they're the go to diagnosis for lazy and/or incompetent psychiatrists. haha...i think that's a good enough rant for one night.
9.18.2007 6:44am
Fub:
Tony Tutins wrote at 9.17.2007 11:55pm:

[therut wrote:]I will NEVER probably sell unless somehow I get incorporated into a city limit then it is time to move to the 1000 acre farm.

Good idea. Let your kids or other heirs deal with the lack of proof of competent workmanship. At worst, the new owner will bulldoze the house.
"Proof of competent workmanship" by paperwork is a lot like proof of a restaurant's excellent cuisine by the pretty pictures on the menu. When I look for good food, I don't gauge the food by the pictures on the menu. I gauge by how good the actual food tastes.

Good thing the government hasn't yet mandated that we must all just take government approved nutritional capsules while looking at pictures of real food. That's what has happened to architecture and construction, at least for us plebes without a brother-in-law in the local building and zoning department. A good architect shouldn't have to spend more time fighting with dimwitted, ill-educated, tasteless and even malevolent bureaucrats over paperwork than he spends designing and constructing beautiful and functional buildings. But that's what has become the case over the years as government extends its tentacles into every aspect of citizens' lives.

Mount Vernon, Monticello, and even Lincoln's childhood log cabin, were not constructed from government approved plans, to government approved standards, by government licensed craftsmen. But somehow these unapproved structures sheltered their occupants adequately. Under today's laws, and the attitudes of today's bureaucrats, they could never have been approved for construction.
9.18.2007 2:00pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
Mount Vernon, Monticello, and even Lincoln's childhood log cabin did not have wires carrying 220 VAC buried in the walls. I'm sure that when they were wired some government inspector checked the job, because no one would want these national treasures to burn down from a short-circuit.

And I don't know what you're talking about. Under today's laws and today's bureaucrats, my friend designed and built a 2500 sq. ft. addition to his house, doing all the work from digging the foundation, pouring the concrete, framing it (including support columns and beams), wiring it, installing the furnace and ductwork, plumbing it, drywalling it, painting it, roofing it, and siding it. He also installed a fireplace and built a chimney. He also put in the windows, built a staircase, and installed molding. His father and brother had to help him install the hot tub on the second story. The county inspector approved his plans and signed off his work at every stage. This was Michigan. Where do you live?
9.18.2007 5:30pm
Tim Fowler (www):

The link to the original post doesn't work.

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9.18.2007 8:13pm
Fub:
Tony Tutins wrote at 9.18.2007 4:30pm:
... His father and brother had to help him install the hot tub on the second story. The county inspector approved his plans and signed off his work at every stage. This was Michigan. Where do you live?
Not in Michigan. I agree that lo cal bureaucracies differ from area to area. But the basic system is the same in most places, and there are absolutely no safeguards against power-crazed jerks who hate owner-builders. They sometimes get lifetime sinecures in some areas. Ordinary citizens have no protection against them, except to hire expensive legal representation to stop some particular specific excess in some particular instance. Ordinary people can't afford to fight them once they infest a local bureaucracy.

I agree with whoever said a building permit should not be more difficult to get than welfare. Period.
9.18.2007 9:23pm