Quincy at The Liberty Papers has a story that illustrates perfectly: The Absurdness of Over-Regulation. Here's what happened ...

Larry Moore was homeless and living under a bridge in San Francisco just 11 months ago.  He started shining shoes and "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."

However, "an official for the Department of Public Works" read about Larry Moore in the San Francisco Chronicle, and she promptly told him he had to "fork over the money he saved for his first month's rent to purchase a $491 sidewalk vendor permit."


Just wanting to get on with his new business, Moore tried to work his way through the maze of bureaucracy to get the permit, But of course he couldn't even find anyone at the city that knew how to help him.  Yet Moore was persistent, found the form, got a money order for $491 and went to the appropriate department to pay and ...

Larry Moore was turned away yet again.  This time, he needed to get a valid ID card!

"I had $573 ready to go," Moore said, who needs $600 for the rent. "This tore that up. But I've been homeless for six years. Another six weeks isn't going to kill me."

Nothing happens when mentally ill men wander the street talking to themselves and drunkards pee in the alleys. Yet Moore creates a little business out of thin air, builds up a client base, and the city takes nearly every penny he's earned.

Christine Falvey, spokeswoman for Public Works, said the department's contact with Moore was meant to be "educational."

"We certainly don't want to hamper anyone's ability to make a living," Falvey said. "Our education efforts are actually meant to support that effort by making our streets an enjoyable place for people to visit."

That is unlikely to mollify Moore's clients.

"Nothing like kicking someone when they are down," ranted attorney Loren Lopin, one of Moore's clients who donated $100 to help him get housing. "I am pissed."

Um, "educational?" What a snobbish-BS answer.  The amazing part however, is Larry Moore just keeps on truckin'!

The only one who isn't furious about this is Moore. He insists that city functionaries are giving him a break because they are letting him continue to shine shoes while he waits for a copy of his birth certificate to be sent from Kansas. Once it arrives they will allow him to get an ID card and then hand over almost every cent he has.

What a deal.

Yeah, a real "deal" alright ...  I love this quote from Quincy, in his post "A boot stamping on a human face ...":

He's faced the tyranny of the petty bureaucrat with incredible composure, and he deserves every shred of respect and help he's gotten for this.*

The good news!

It now looks like things are working out for Larry.  "We the people" came to his aid!

Shoeshine man catches a break - and some cash:

Then there were the women who walked up to give him a hug, the tourists who had their photo taken with him, and the people - more than one - who stuffed $100 bills in his shirt pocket.

"Honestly," Moore said, "it is probably the best day of my life. And not for financial reasons. It just means so much to have people come out and recognize someone working hard."

Workers and residents were furious at city government for making it so hard for Moore to pull himself up and out of the streets. They were also eager to lend a hand.

City officials got the message. It may have been a misunderstanding or miscommunication, but there was only one bottom line - taking almost all of Moore's money to pay for a permit was a boneheaded idea of epic proportions.

A "boneheaded idea of epic proportions" indeed!

This is the problem with Rube Goldberg regulatory schemes.  They create an arbitrary barrier against those who need freedom the most.  The guy is shining people's shoes.  He has happy customers.  Larry Moore is not infringing upon anyone else's rights.  Quincy really nails it, saying:

As this case shows, it's a way of life that deserves to be questioned.

It's a very flawed way of life if you ask me.  It wastes money, holds people back, and makes it harder for people to achieve.

  1. Is San Francisco better off, for making a homeless man wander the maze of bureaucracy in order to fork over almost every penny he has?
  2. Is San Francisco better off, because the $491 went to the government instead of a landlord?
  3. Would San Francisco be better off, if Larry had given up and sought public housing instead?

There's a word politicians like to use (too often imho), that sounds the equivalent sound of finger-nails scratching a chalkboard (at least to me). That word is - "policy."  I don't even like typing it.  America has too much policy.  We need to repeal policies, not write more!

The following 2 posts detail a plan of action developed by the Goldwater Institute, on how to reduce regulations starting at the local level.  "We the people" really need to start taking action! Hey, even if it's too late ... I'd rather go down fighting. Wouldn't you?


"I have little interest in streamlining government or in making it more efficient,
for I mean to reduce its size.

I do not undertake to promote welfare, for I propose to extend freedom.

My aim is not to pass laws, but to repeal them.

It is not to inaugurate new programs,
but to cancel old ones that do violence to the Constitution,
or that have failed in their purpose,
or that impose on the people an unwarranted financial burden.

I will not attempt to discover whether legislation is 'needed'
before I have first determined whether it is constitutionally permissible.

And if I should later be attacked for neglecting my constituents 'interests,'
I shall reply that I was informed their main interest is liberty
and that in that cause I am doing the very best I can."

- Barry Goldwater

*source of post title.



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