December 29, 2006

A benevolent law plays out unfairly in real life. Surprised?

Here's a story about how statutory law is forcing Old Greenwich, Connecticut to oust a family who has been operating a coffee stand for 8 years and give his concession to a man who happens to be blind:
[L]ittle-known but longstanding federal and state laws [gives] preference to the blind when it comes to operating concessions on government property....

On Wednesday, a crowd of regulars were quick to speak their minds in support of the Mahers. “To me, it seems unconstitutional,” said Ralph DellaCamera, a hedge fund trader passing through the station about 6:30 a.m. “That’s not the capitalistic system.”
Well, that is a funny understanding of constitutional law.
Some customers said they would treat the new vendor warily. “I’m not looking forward to giving him any of my business,” said Stephen Mesker, a regular. “Preference is one thing when you award a contract” for the first time, Mr. Mesker said, but taking it from an existing operator is “like telling someone who owns a house: ‘Guess what? We have someone better for it.’ ”
Hmmm... Don't tell him about Kelo.

The ordinary person's sense of justice means something, but it's hard to see how the law is unconstitutional or how the city can avoid it. The customers are certainly free to shun the new guy and to say in advance that they will to try to pressure him to withdraw.

I'm sure the people who passed the law thought highly of their benevolence toward the blind, don't you think?

20 comments:

Mortimer Brezny said...

I'm sure the people who passed the law thought highly of their benevolence toward the blind, don't you think?

I don't see what you mean.

Jake said...

Another reason I was smart to always follow this rule:

Never do business with the government.

Jake said...

Another reason I was smart to always follow this rule:

Never do business with the government.

JohnF said...

The key seems to be this statement by the people administering this program, according to the Times:

"State officials say they would not have stepped in had Mr. Maher been covered by a contract. But since the concession was never put out to bid and the arrangement had no set termination date, they said it was wrong to expect them to wait until Mr. Maher moved on before taking care of a person in need. 'It just seems so unfair to say that because this couple had this location that there’s this entitlement and that they should always have it,' Mr. Sigman said."

Maher's contract was month-to-month. It seems that if Maher had had a contract of longer duration, the state would have honored it, though probably not renewed it when it expired. People lose concessions all the time. Vendors are routinely ousted so owners can make more money. Here, the vendor is being ousted so the aims of social legislation can be furthered.

Maher is very young (24), and pretty impressive -- he's been doing this for 8 years (6 as owner). Perhaps one of those CEOs or hedge fund operators can reward his industry somehow. But whether they do or not, he seems like some one who will land on his feet.

Dave said...

Only a lawyer could consider the hedge fund trader's comments odd.

Of course, as I've said many times before, I care little what "the law" says or how "the law" works. I care only about inefficiencies foisted upon man by "the law."

The practice of giving the indigent/incompetent/disabled special rights and favors that the non-malformed among us do not have is, at root, very much not capitalistic. Whether it is constitutional is rather irrelevant.

JohnF said...

The key seems to be this statement by the people administering this program, according to the Times:

"State officials say they would not have stepped in had Mr. Maher been covered by a contract. But since the concession was never put out to bid and the arrangement had no set termination date, they said it was wrong to expect them to wait until Mr. Maher moved on before taking care of a person in need. 'It just seems so unfair to say that because this couple had this location that there’s this entitlement and that they should always have it,' Mr. Sigman said."

Maher's contract was month to month. If Maher had had a longer contract they would have honored it, and probably not renewed it when it expired. People lose concessions all the time. Vendors are routinely ousted so owners can make more money. Here, the vendor is being ousted so the aims of social legislation can be furthered.

Maher is very young (24), and pretty impressive -- he's been doing this for 8 years (6 as owner). Perhaps one of those CEOs or hedge fund operators can reward his industry somehow. But whether they do or not, he seems like some one who will land on his feet.

Bo Steed said...

This is a most unfortunate circumstance. Nobody would ever dream of awarding a contract to someone short of stature. Just another example of heightism in our supposed "big tent" society.

downtownlad said...

Well considering all of the benefits that are given towards married, straight couples - I actually think this is kind of cool.

the rising jurist said...

I suspect the outraged customers will find their resolve fading when they need that coffee fix.

I remember hearing people saying they would not support Pel'Meni here in Madison, after it re-opened (following a partnership gone sour). I still won't go to the under-new-management reincarnation, but I see people in there all the time.

People need their dumplings. And people will need their coffee.

Karl said...

"No State shall ... deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

Is the law treating the two equally? Seems pretty cut-and-dry to me.

-kd

Gahrie said...

Being blind does not benefit society. Getting married and having children does.

JohnF said...

The key seems to be this statement by the people administering this program, according to the Times:

"State officials say they would not have stepped in had Mr. Maher been covered by a contract. But since the concession was never put out to bid and the arrangement had no set termination date, they said it was wrong to expect them to wait until Mr. Maher moved on before taking care of a person in need. 'It just seems so unfair to say that because this couple had this location that there’s this entitlement and that they should always have it,' Mr. Sigman said."

It seemed that Maher's contract was month to month (whether in writing or by operation of law is not clear, though it seems the latter). If Maher had had a longer contract they would have honored it, and probably not renewed it when it expired. People lose concessions all the time. Vendors are routinely ousted so owners can make more money. Here, the vendor is being ousted so the aims of social legislation can be furthered.

Maher is very young (24), and pretty impressive -- he's been doing this for 8 years (6 as owner). Perhaps one of those CEOs or hedge fund operators can reward his industry somehow. But whether they do or not, he seems like some one who will land on his feet.

PatCA said...

"...he seems like some one who will land on his feet."

That's totally irrelevant, and pretty callous, too. And how does the bureaucrat know the blind person is "in need"?

The new coffee guy better hope that a blind person of color or a blind gay person doesn't take a liking to his concession.

Meade said...

"Getting married and having children does" not benefit society.

Rearing children to be virtuous responsible educated adults does.

Dawn Braun said...

There are a few points I didn't see addressed and if someone has knowledge and can answer:

I am not familiar with this type of business. Typically you have to have a permit to operate as a sidewalk vendor.

Was this a situation where the permit renewal was not approved?

Who is the actual owner of the consession? And how is it that a blind person can just become the new owner?

I am at work, so if someone could enlighten me...it would help to form a better understanding

Best Regards,

Dawn Braun
Oshkosh,WI

Cedarford said...

Comment and update on Kelo:

People lose concessions all the time. No matter what Maher says, the government had no obligation to him and was already under a generations-old law passed with huge popular support (not just in CT, these laws are nationwide and you see many blind and disabled working in similar shops in DC) Simply - that government would try to support Disabled Vets and the blind in getting employment opportunity.

Now Maher may be a hot-shot little entrepreneur who can make it anywhere. Now's his opportunity.

Dave - The practice of giving the indigent/incompetent/disabled special rights and favors that the non-malformed among us do not have is, at root, very much not capitalistic.

Given your attitude about an Iraqi Vet with both legs blown off not deserving any special consideration as "malformed", under capitalism, or your possible belief that the blind should compete with a sighted person heads up on whoever gets the latte`s out faster - spare me your version of ugly capitalism.

This is not race,gender,ethnic based preference - but society taking care of the most needy you are generally disabled through no fault of their own. Even the most ancient civilizations all showed some level of mercy and compassion for the disabled. Laissez faire, social Darwinist capitalism is repulsive and rejected by Americans. Maher the wonder kid can look around and see all sorts of concession ventures he can do now that his contract expired. The blind have very limited job opportunities.

*****************
Kelo Update - The hero of libertarians, Suzette Kelo, sent a mass mailing of letters out cursing the people and their families who were involved in New London leadership, the city revitalization project, and litigation. She also wished disease and death on the voters of New London who had supported new commercial ventures on land zoned industrial/commercial since the 20's. (Kelo's house was non-conforming, as were the others).

An extra 100,000 dollars or two richer than the fair market vlue of her "beloved house" merited - Kelo, a real estate speculator who lived more in an Old Lyme house she owns than in her "beloved" New London house in an urban wasteland well before litigation started, has moved on to one of her other houses in two adjacent towns.

New London residents, having mostly concluded long ago that she was a real piece of work, generally return similar wishes for her own Holiday cheer.

Jeff said...

How is this any different from affirmative action?

Revenant said...

Personally, I think Ann's failure to show concern for the needs of the blind demonstrates what a capitalist ideologue she is. :)

JohnF said...

Sorry everybody for the multiple comments. I had trouble posting it, but some computer apparently rewarded my effort by repeating it.

How do you delete things?

yetanotherjohn said...

This is a logical outcome when you have the government prefer one group of citizens over another. Which group gets preferred changes with time and the political spectrum, but the preference doesn't. The fact that at the core of the American people is a strong resentment of this should be heartening.

Such preferences can also have unintended consequences. Ever hear of "going postal"? Why did that occur, because a preference for hiring veterans was built into the system. While the vast majority of combat veterans have no problem in civilian life, some combat veterans do. Concentrating them through preferential hiring didn't create more of them, it just made it more likely that when one went off the tracks they would be a postal employee.