Monday, May 07, 2007

A Fine Mess

As we have been commenting on, the city's unrestrained use of New York's restaurants as a cash cow continues unabated. As the NY Post reports this morning, this year's fine totals are expected to reach over $27 million, an increase of 25% over the previous years collection. Now, with trans fat and menu labeling on the horizon, the sky really is the limit for the voracious bureaucracy at the DOH.

Dr. Frieden, in defending the record increase, told the Post, "Really, absolutely, truly we have no target for restaurant fines...We want the food to be cleaner. Period." Well, we believe you Tom. At least about the target. He wouldn't want his inspectors to slow down when approaching an artificial quota.

Frieden than went on to say, stretching our willingness to suspend our disbelief, that he wished that the fines "went to zero." The Department's sole concern about cleanliness is belied, however, by its arcane, point-driven, inspection system, one that is constructed precisely to generate revenue and has little bearing on customer protection.

What we have in this city is a bureaucratic enforcement structure that is designed to increase the cost of doing business here. With DOH and DCA, two agencies with a built-in bias against entrepreneurism, we can see just how much the city devalues the hard work of its neighborhood retailers.

The disappearance of these two agencies would harm the city a great deal less than if the commercial strips of the neighborhoods were denuded of their shops. The proper balance between economic development and consumer protection has long ago gone way out of whack in this city.