The NY Sun goes after the commissioner of "mental hygiene" today in an editorial that questions the need for any health inspectors at all. It first points out, and we agree wholeheartedly, that the department is insinuating itself into areas of personal choice where New Yorkers are perfectly capable of making up their own minds. Then the Sun asks: "Is it really necessary for government employees to be patrolling the city's restaurant kitchens?"
The paper feels that the private sector, along with "savvy New Yorkers" are more than capable of policing themselves, and that the whole inspection racket is a waste of money. In the Sun's view, the city would be better off if the DOH laid off all the inspectors and returned the cost of the whole inspection operation "to New Yorkers in the form of a tax cut."
We're not sure that we agree totally with this libertarian viewpoint, but we do agree that the city could save a lot of money if it dismantled most of the inspection army in almost every enforcement arena. The savings, however, wouldn't just be in the form of a tax cut from the reduction of government bureaucracy, it would come from a reduction in the cost of goods and services ("burdensome regulations") at the city's liberated retail outlets.