November 14, 2011

Occupy Wall Street Raided

I should try to get the NYPD to raid my garage and throw out for me all the decades of junk piled up in there.

Anyway, Occupy Wall Street reminds me of another current phenomenon, food trucks and other businesses that have set themselves up rent-free in the public streets.

For example, in recent years, there's always a big yellow sign advertising "Thai Massages" (I presume that's a euphemism) mounted on a trailer parked in the right hand turn lane at a busy nearby corner. It's a great location for advertising a massage parlor because the pimp doesn't have to rent the land the sign occupies. Less obnoxiously, there's now often a miniature barber shop in a trailer parked in front of a prosperous local strip mall where monthly rents are substantial.

Similarly, downtown Manhattan is, for most people, one of the most expensive places in the world to live, but a couple of hundred people have been camping rent free there for two months.

Why this 200-person free campout is the biggest deal since the Fall of the Bastille, however, is another question entirely.

59 comments:

Robert Holmgren said...

Google has a large RV parked at its headquarters in Mountain View, California that provides haircuts to their employees.

Anonymous said...

You assume all prostitutes have pimps. Very misguided.

Also, there is such a thing as a Thai massage without a "happy ending".

Anonymous said...

Some protesters began talking about occupying Goldman Sachs and the Federal Reserve. That, added to some anti-semitic grumblings meant that it was going to be shut down pronto. Until then, it had been tolerated and even encourage by People Of Great Import.

However, the talk of Goldman Sachs is too dangerous. The police will go in heavy and clear them out. Their media support will also evaporate so it won't be covered.

The OWS crowd should have just stuck to Citibank and other WASP strongholds.

Anonymous said...

"That, added to some anti-semitic grumblings meant that it was going to be shut down pronto. Until then, it had been tolerated and even encourage by People Of Great Import."

Oh good. All this.

Anonymous said...

Oh good. All this.

What?

What the F%#^* are you looking at?? said...

Food truck and massage ads are just capitalism at work. If you have a product or service that I need, say a storefront for rent, then I have to pay for it. But if I come up with a buseiness model where I no longer need your service,like selling out of my truck or home, well tough luck to you! If Wal Mart can put all of the businesses that used to be in separate buildings on Main Street under one roof, making the old business model obsolete, why can't I do the same?

Anonymous said...

In NYC, food vendors need to have pretty expensive licenses, and I believe that they pay rent for their designated locations.

--Discordiax

Anonymous said...

Thai massage is an actual style of massage that has nothing to do with prostitution.

ironrailsironweights said...

Also, there is such a thing as a Thai massage without a "happy ending".

Yes, I believe it's called "full service."

Peter

George said...

Thai massage ads on a busy street, sidewalk barbers...sounds like Blade Runner is happening right on schedule.

Anonymous said...

Funny you should mention this. Rutgers University's iconic grease trucks are now battling for their lives thanks to the interference of PepsiCo, who noted that they sell Coke while the University's official contract is for Pepsi. So the rent-paying small time guys are probably doomed:
http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2011/11/rutgers_universitys_infamous_g.html

Ayn-onymous said...

^^^ The attempt to portray OWS squatters as rebels against int'l Zionism is good. I'm sure there are 1 or 2 in there. Why imitation of homeless is a successful vector of that cause is never explained...

Food trucks are different though; certainly make sense in some (few) places in the world, but we're getting them in suburban Sacramento which is in block after block of empty commercial space. I really have no idea why county health won't fine them out of the area.. HMMM... mas carnitas por favor.... but it's another signpost on the way to the libertarian dream/Mad Maxification of the country.

Thrasymachus said...

A restaurant owner or two has had the temerity to complain about the proliferation of food trucks in Seattle. But yuppie fashion will override any idea of fairness for business owners.

edgy gurl said...

There is/was somewhat of an Occupy Israel movement though I get the impression maybe some American Jews joined the Occupies in America out of a sense of radicalism envy.

More power to these campers who are successfully overcoming postmodern political ennui.

Shouting Thomas said...

Why this 200-person free campout is the biggest deal since the Fall of the Bastille, however, is another question entirely.

60s nostalgia for reporters and over the hill Boomers.

Anonymous said...

It used to be we let watery tarts lobbing swords confer the mandate of heaven. Now we apaerntly rely on public vagrancy.

-osvaldo M.

Londoner said...

Mayor Bloomberg of the one percent (of the one percent) senses pitchforks and cossacks are at hand so sends in the heavies to remind the uppity protesters who's really in charge.

Anonymous said...

The OWS crowd should have just stuck to Citibank and other WASP strongholds.

Citibank hasn't been WASP for decades.

There are no real WASP strongholds left on Wall St.

Douglas Knight said...

I believe that food trucks in good locations pay rent.

beowulf said...

Donald Shoup is publishing currently on the multiple benefits of metering curb parking at higher rates.
Shoup sees meter revenues as rent charges. He estimates their revenue potential as astonishingly high, equal to all existing property tax
revenues from all kinds of private property. This is only from
parked cars on public land.
p. 25,"The Hidden Taxable Capacity of Land", Mason Gaffney
http://economics.ucr.edu/papers/papers08/08-12old.pdf

Kylie said...

"Why this 200-person free campout is the biggest deal since the Fall of the Bastille, however, is another question entirely."

That should be "second biggest deal". The biggest deal since the Fall of the Bastille is the 5-person campout in the White House. Like Occupy Wall Street, it's free to the occupants and paid for by the rest of us.

Paul Mendez said...

I have two, competing/conflicting theories as to why all the media attention to OWS.

1)It's all part of a Vast Left Wing Conspiracy to replace our free-market, democratic way of life with Godless, Socialistic Anarchy, initially cooked up at the Institute for Social Research in Frankfurt some time in the late 1920's.

2) Most journalists were raised on the mythic legends of their parents' and professors' heroic Counter Culture exploits in the 1960's and they are endlessly fascinated with/jealous of young people who can change the world through banging on tribal drums and doing bong hits with semi-naked hippies chicks.

David said...

Can you imagine the phone calls Bloomberg has been getting? They would probably make "Bad Rachel" sound sweetly reasonable.

On the actual post... a widely known example of the kind of externality Steve mentions is RVs staying for a while on the edges of Wal-Mart parking lots. It's true W-M allows this in most cases. (Because RV'ers are mostly middle-class types who stock up in store.) But the RV'ers aren't paying a thing for such stays, last I heard - while RV campgrounds rarely cost less than $30 per night.

It seems to me that externalities are more tolerated these days. My impression of America roughly pre-1980 was that you were charged for everything, on principle - even if the charge was only symbolic (like a dime). This principle was respected with all the fanatical vigor of any moral superstition. Examples:

-- the custom of offering to pay even for local phone calls. A movie example is in Hitchcock's "The Birds" (Melanie asks the storekeeper how much she owes him for a local call; this is regarded as wholly normal and expected; the storekeeper benevolently waves her off, as part of his naive, comical character).

-- dime toilets. "Here I sit, broken-hearted, paid my dime but only farted."

-- In another Hitchcock movie, "Saboteur," the villains have kidnapped a girl. One of the goons brings her some food (actually a healthy American milkshake) and she spends precious screen time digging into her little purse pouch to give him the exact amount of change, in an amazingly awkward scene. At first this struck me as a bizarre "Hitchcock touch" or joke...then I realized it was not; instead, it's simply a depiction of what audiences expected to see. It's not right for anyone in any situation not to pay for a milkshake!

-- in my childhood neighborhood, anyone accepting gifts (from anyone) without offering to pay was regarded with disdain. If a friend's parents fed you lunch, you were expected to ask politely: "How much for the lunch?" And the adult was expected to reply politely: "Nothing at all." (Did I grow up in a weird neighborhood? This was the '70s in the Deep South.)

Nowadays, ones downloads music for free, watches movies on YouTube for free, camps out in parking lots on expensive real estate for free, jogs through indoor malls for free, reads 100 books in bookstores for the price of a cup of coffee or more often for free, gets free Wi-Fi all over the place, and reads all kinds of things on the net without a (special) charge. Being asked to pay a fee for the use of one's debt card is regarded as a national, pre-revolutionary outrage.

What happened? In some ways, the new ethos is more reasonable. In other ways, it seems to encourage some types of thievery. What brought about this transformation?

Anonymous said...

If you listen to NPR here in NYC, it's OWS 24/7 as if half a million people were camping out downtown. The Progressives are involved in one big breathless circle jerk over this. OWS has overstayed its welcome and it's time to go back to the parents' house now.

NOTA said...

Which political sideshow would you like to watch this week? The OWS guys camping out in various public places and holding up signs, or the Republican primary candidates doing their level best to ensure another four years of Obama every time they open their mouths?

Anonymous said...

They are making an unauthorized protest. the powers that be do NOT want them focused on this issue, because it eventually leads to the truth.

DaveinHackensack said...

"The Progressives are involved in one big breathless circle jerk over this. OWS has overstayed its welcome and it's time to go back to the parents' house now."

Speaking of which, here are pictures and estimated values of their parents' houses, from around the country (address data came from arrest reports).

Anonymous said...

Kylie, who are the five people?

Anonymous said...

In LA the Thai massages are usually legit, it's the Korean places that are rub 'n tugs.

Henry Canaday said...

“Dave in Hackensack said... here are pictures and estimated values of their parents' houses…”

This reminds me of a recent flight from San Diego on which I sat next to two OWS supporters. One was a 60-ish California real-estate lady with a “boyfriend” and a daughter who wanted to be an actress. In other words, her husband had left her and her kid did not have a job. The other was a fourth-year art student in Boston with a divorced mother living in Switzerland. In other words, his father had walked out and he did not have any job prospects.

How much of this tantrum against Wall Street is just redirected anger against something a lot closer?

The two of them babbled so constantly and annoyingly I was forced to don the headset and watch the in-flight movie, something about Jim Carrey and penguins. The highlight was when one of the penguins defecated on Carrey’s face.

Whiskey said...

The Food Truck stuff in Venice in particular pits local owners (who hate it, the crowds interfere with their business and buy nothing) with connected chefs and such running basically promotional stuff for their pricey yuppie oriented restaurants in other parts of the city. Because the food truck guys were politically connected, they lasted a long time before the crack-down.

On OWS, the local residents HATE HATE HATE it. Noise, public defecation on their stoops, stabbings, the homeless attracted, roaches, rats, flies etc. make it a mess. They've been angrily after Bloomberg since it started to kill the thing -- Zucotti Park is supposed to be theirs not trust-fund kids acting out. But Obama's folks intervened (he likes it, thinks its Plan B, use violence to frighten voters into going for him) and pushed Bloomberg to let them stay. Despite the local voters being outraged, the Dem Party folks came down hard on the private developers who own/run Zucotti Park. So they stayed. Until like the Venice food trucks the outrage of the locals became so much that they pushed Bloomberg to take action.

OWS is stridently anti-Israel, for the record, and anti-Jewish slurs are commonplace there and the other Occupy places.

The problem is widespread and structural. Modern political connections allow big time players to run roughshod over locals with no real recourse. In LA that includes Antelope Valley people being overwhelmed with Section 8 Housing grants, RVs spewing raw sewage on local Venice Streets, the food trucks, OWS (and other Occupy places) and so on. Big trumps local every time. That's a problem because it tends to create permanent losers with grudges. Machiavelli advised better to kill someone than make him poor.

Kylie said...

"Kylie, who are the five people?"

Barack, Michelle, Sasha, Malia and Big Momma.

Have you already forgotten the joyous, exultant wall-to-wall coverage of his apotheosis back in 2008 and 2009?

I'm sure many considered it a bigger deal than the Fall of the Bastille.

elvisd said...

"-- in my childhood neighborhood, anyone accepting gifts (from anyone) without offering to pay was regarded with disdain. If a friend's parents fed you lunch, you were expected to ask politely: "How much for the lunch?" And the adult was expected to reply politely: "Nothing at all." (Did I grow up in a weird neighborhood? This was the '70s in the Deep South.)"

Jesus, where did you grow up? I'm from the Deep South, too. I've never in my life heard of such. It's true that reciprocating is a big deal down here, but never in such a course way.
Actually, a case could be made that where some bric a brac have become more "free", a whole lot of
other things have become less so, particularly in land/space use.

9W5zM4GtZ1 said...

"It seems to me that externalities are more tolerated these days. My impression of America roughly pre-1980 was that you were charged for everything, on principle"

And yet, I remember when airlines gave you meals!

europeasant said...

"Speaking of which, here are pictures and estimated values of their parents' houses, from around the country (address data came from arrest reports)"

I remember as a youth back in the late sixties attending one one the rallies at Chicago Lincoln Park Democratic youth fests.The young people looked poor but I later realized that the ringleaders came from from the upper class well educated tribes.I felt foolish coming from my lower working class background.How naive I was at 18 back in 1968.

Anonymous said...

Food trucks are the best thing to happen to LA dining in ages. They're especially clever in setting up near office complexes or studios and provide a rotating menu of dining options to people who are bored with the local selections. You're in Studio City, right, Steve? Go try the ones that park in front of CBS Radford or the Guitar Center.

Anonymous said...

"And yet, I remember when airlines gave you meals!"

Price controls forced competition on quality.

Anonymous said...

And yet, I remember when airlines gave you meals!
served by stewardesses... pretty, young. sigh....

Svigor said...

In NYC, food vendors need to have pretty expensive licenses, and I believe that they pay rent for their designated locations.

Yes, the more avaricious city governments really go after mobile vendors. I'm trying to remember the city I read about...San Francisco?

Svigor said...

Well anon, you were wrong about the coverage. But the media doesn't usually do things that ham-handedly. No, they'll just keep the plates in the air no longer than is necessary; some big story will drive it away. It might have legs, though...cops clearing out the tent city has old school pinko journalist appeal.

Eric said...

How much of this tantrum against Wall Street is just redirected anger against something a lot closer?

Yep. There are a few Marxists mixed in, but for the most part the animating force behind these protests is undischargable student loan debt. Like all the "liar loan" recipients, somehow it's all the fault of banks.

Svigor said...

I've been collecting stories on OWS. Not diligently, but when I see 'em I grab 'em. You know, rape, sexual assault, thievery, taking a public dump, the usual leftoid hijinks. They've been very helpful; watch as only a tiny fringe uses their behavior against them, in stark contrast to what the media did to the Tea Parties.

Which was what the media love for OWS is all about, Steve. Leftoids think they own the grass roots. A bit of populism scares the shit out of them, but more to the point, it makes them super jealous. The Tea Party was steawing Bammy's tundew.

The OWS people aren't going to admit that no Tea Parties, no OWS.

I don't know WTF Fox News is thinking. They had a scrum of hens today squawking over the insult done to their right honorable media titled selves by the OWS crowd. Miscalculation, Fox. Let the left eat itself. Or maybe I should give them more credit for knowing their business than I do, and assume they're deliberately giving the leftoids someone to unite against?

Hey Whiskey, you still think BHO is going to seize power in a coup attempt? You could probably negotiate a Clancy watermark and make big bucks in the bible belt with that one.

Svigor said...

Thai massage ads on a busy street, sidewalk barbers...sounds like Blade Runner is happening right on schedule.

^

I laughed out loud at that one.

Svigor said...

over the hill Boomers.

But you repeat yourself.

Hail said...

Kylie wwrote:
"Barack, Michelle, Sasha, Malia and Big Momma."

I prefer to moniker "Michelle 'The Fist Bumper' Obama", as Pastor James David Manning calls her.

Harry Baldwin said...

elvisd said...Jesus, where did you grow up? I'm from the Deep South, too. I've never in my life heard of such. It's true that reciprocating is a big deal down here, but never in such a course way.

There is a strange country we learn about only from commenters on iSteve. I believe it may be the same one where alphas sire all the children and betas raise them, as someone claimed a few days ago.

Anonymous said...

Whiskey: "anti-Jewish slurs are commonplace there (viz. at OWS)..."

Simply describing human social reality accurately, typically amounts to an anti-Jewish "slur".

On you go.

commonwealth contrarian said...

"Like all the "liar loan" recipients, somehow it's all the fault of banks."

The private sector shares part of the blame here. Why hasn't the US private sector spoken out against too many students borrowing too much money, and its negative effect on the US economy?

At least the business sector in the UK has been openly complaining about falling academic standards.

Maya said...

Is your garage a breeding ground for infectious deceases? If so, I'm pretty sure the government could be persuaded to get involved. If you want me to report you, just let me know. Seriously, though, that which is a major hazard to the public health is supposed to get a heavy handed reaction from the government. There's been an outbreak of drug-resistant tuberculosis at Occupy Atlanta, a dead body lay unnoticed for days in the middle of Occupy New Orleans and there is a small epidemic of some respiratory infection at OWS. I hate to sound like the whiny entitled immigrant that I am, but my parents brought me to a civilized country so I wouldn't be at risk for TB when using public transportation. If only these people could just stick to contracting STDs, it would be totally cool. With the third world's population exploding, we need the future insurance salespersons and store managers to be infertile and looking to adopt. Who knows? One of them might adopt the baby who otherwise would have grown up to be the patient zero of the next catchy virus after performing unnatural acts with a Niam-niam for a Nike tee-shirt.

beowulf said...

"a widely known example of the kind of externality Steve mentions is RVs staying for a while on the edges of Wal-Mart parking lots"

Not an example of an externality at all. Wal-Mart is perfectly aware the RV owners are imposing a cost on them, but they allow it anyway (if Wal-Mart wanted to roust them for trespassing, they could do so at anytime).
Wal-Mart tries to build its parking lots large enough to accommodate the day after Thanksgiving traffic (the biggest shopping day of the year). Since the 364 days of the year the parking lot is filled below capacity, its only a nominal cost to build some goodwill among its RV-driving customers to offer free overnight parking.

Also, I too grew up (and still live) in the deep South. I've never heard of a guest offering their host money for the food put on the table. That sounds as gauche as leaving "cab fare" on the dresser for a young lady you brought home.

David said...

"There is a strange country we learn about only from commenters on iSteve."

Harry, it's even stranger than you think. Stay indoors when you can. [/humor]

Anonymous said...

"I should try to get the NYPD to raid my garage and throw out for me all the decades of junk piled up in there."

Garage sale. Mexicans will clear it out in no time.

David said...

>Not an example of an externality at all.<

It's not a negative externality, it's a positive externality; such may or may not involve the free rider problem. See here.

Eric said...

The private sector shares part of the blame here.

Why? The banks have no idea how much money a particular graduate can make when he graduates. There are a lot of intangibles involved. And anyway if they started trying to pick winners and losers invariably they'd be accused of racism, sexism, and a desire to keep kids out of college.

edgy gurl said...

"The banks have no idea how much money a particular graduate can make when he graduates."

I'm with you on this one, Eric. The people who shoulder the burden are the graduates themselves who often mistake pursuing wish-fulfillment fantasies for preparing for a career. Still I think things can only get better now that the most recent set of college grads has gotten so vocal about how little many of their degrees are worth.

Isn't there a specific term for this kind of feedback in economics, btw? So they're blaming Wall Street first before accepting the consequences of lemming-like bad decision making. Don't we all go through that phase in our early 20s?

I expect some beneficial real-world outcomes as a result of the Occupy movement: more practical majors, increased attendance at career schools, restructuring of some college departments.

Don't know why Bloomberg is being so dour about it either. Roll with it, old fart!

Anonymous said...

There's nothing novel about Occupy Whatever. In the last 40 years this stuff became common in the U.S. and never ceased. Only difference is a collective media-worker decision that OWS is truly Newsworthy (Tea Party envy). Manhattan always has its angry rabble somewhere, be it sullen AFSCME banner-holders or angry policemen outside the ticket-fixing trial. Why should I realistically expect "beneficial outcomes" from that? The poorly informed are always with us.

NOTA said...

Maya:

Do you have cites for any of that? I was able to find a reference to drug resistant TB among people living in a homeless shelter also apparently used by occupy atlanta protesters (though why anyone protests by sleeping in a homeless shelter is beyond me). That doesnt sound like the occupy protesters are spreading TB, but rather like they're in danger of getting it from the homeless. The Fox story I read on this said they didnt know if the TB victims were protesters or homeless people.

There clearly are sanitation problems with having thousands of people camping out in urban parks for weeks or months at a time. But I don't think TB is a particular risk there--that's more a disease that spreads via crowding in closed spaces.

The dead body story was apparently some guy who dropped dead of a ruptured aneurysm and lay there dead in his tent for a couple days till someone noticed. Similarly, this doesn't sound like a problem caused by the protests--he could have just as easily dropped dead in his apartment, and only been found a couple days later.

NOTA said...

Svigor:

I assume I'm getting a massively distorted picture of the protests, just as I got a massively distorted picture of tea party events. The MSM is part of what keeps the powerful in power, and it's never really going to be friendly to any insurgency.

I, on the other hand, am not particularly invested in keeping the powerful in power, so I'm glad to see people gathering together and letting those folks know they're pissed off about the way things are going. A LOT of people from very different backgrounds and ages and regions making that clear, in many different ways, is probably necessary to get a lot of our big long-term problems to be discussed.

NOTA said...

edgy:

In theory that seems right. In practice, folks graduating now in the same subject from the same school their dad graduated in and from are coming out with tens of thousands of dollars of debt, when their dad came out debt free. The extra money from student loans mostly seems to have gone into inflating the cost of an education.

I think this change has had very bad effects on the world. Because the debt can't be discharged in bankruptcy, some kid who made dumb decisions about his education before he turned 21 (encouraged by large, powerful, respectable institutions) is stuck with a huge debt for years of his life. In fact, there is something very uncomfortably similar about the student loan/tuition bubble and the mortgage/home price bubble. Politicians and respected institutions and pretty much all respectable society agreed that the path to middle-class prosperity was to stretch to get the biggest house/best college you could qualify for, millions of people followed that advice and got burned, and people looking for a quick buck figured out they could take the folks trying to climb up from the bottom for what little they had (whether for subprime mortgages or for student loans for non-accredited private colleges or technical schools whose degrees aren't worth much).

It's not healthy to have every ambitious kid who wasnt born rich come out of college with a godawful anchor of debt tied around his neck, in much the same way it wasnt healthy to have respectable middle class folks (say, a policeman married to a nurse) unable to afford a decent house within reasonable driving distance to their jobs without taking out some gimmick mortgage.