Tag Archives: travel

Failure is an Orphan

The now-famous presidential soundbite “You didn’t build that“, has been argued, laughed at, celebrated, dissected, defended and ridiculed ever since the last syllable passed President Obama’s lips. We even covered it here in a guest post a few days ago. Basically, the argument in favor of Obama’s remark was that government was responsible for the infrastructure, schools, teachers, roads, city councils and everything else that “helped” and “allowed” you to succeed.

And, of course, I think that rationale is complete and utter pig poo.

However, if I temporarily hypothesize that it’s kosher, then does the opposite side of the coin also hold true? You know: does government share in the failure of a business, sort of a “YOU-didn’t-screw-that-up” government waiver? ‘Cause I really don’t think that’s their argument.

You’ll see where I’m going when you read the following article from the Chattanooga Times Free Press:

When longtime Chattanooga-area resident Christian “Thor” Thoreson and his partner Christina Holmes decided to launch Buzz Chattanooga Pedicabs in February 2011, the business seemed tailor-made for the downtown area.

Thoreson’s pedicabs, which are pedal-driven tricycles with a two-person passenger compartment attached behind the driver, fill an important need for downtown. By offering a cheap and convenient way for people to get around between hotels, tourist attractions, bars and restaurants, Buzz Chattanooga is a boon for tourist and a convenient addition for locals.

The pedicabs prevent drunk driving and free up precious parking spaces. They also cut down on auto emissions — a major plus for a city as hell-bent on glomming on every goofy green fad that comes down the pike as Chattanooga.

The pedicabs seem like a win for everyone. They provide a needed service for tourists, help get people in local businesses, get drunk drivers off the road, are environmentally friendly and provide Chattanoogans with well-paying jobs.

Even though I’m not exactly someone concerned with “green” this or “green” that, this idea seems to make sense. Plus, if people are willing to pay for it, why not? Leave it alone and see if it works. Heck, how much trouble and regulation could there be to a glorified Big Wheel with a rear seat?

Stupid question on my part.

Just to get Buzz Chattanooga off the ground, Thoreson had to abide by those 11 pages of pedicab-specific regulations. And that’s on top of the dozens and dozens of pages of rules pertaining to all for-hire vehicles in the city, including pedicabs.

The city ordinance limited the number of pedicab permits available, capping the number of pedicabs serving Chattanooga to just six. Each pedicab permit requires a $100 fee.

Those six pedicabs have to be outfitted with a horn, a rearview mirror, headlights, tail lights and turn signal.

Pedicab drivers are required to go through an intensive licensing process by the city, including passing a test given through the Chattanooga Police Department Regulatory Bureau Transportation Inspector’s office, as well as being subjected to a drug screening and a background search.

City regulations don’t allow pedicabs to cruise for passengers — they must remain parked and wait for customers. Strangely, even though cars often come much closer, pedicabs must stay at least 10 feet away from horse-drawn carriages. The vehicles also can’t be operated in public parks.

Huh? They can’t ride what is essentially a bike in a public park? I’d think that would be the IDEAL place to have them. However, I’ve looked and can’t find the reason for that rule anywhere.

Anyway, back to the government-sponsored torture:

But there is one regulation in the mountain of rules that pedicab owner and operators must follow that is more unfair and outlandish than any other.

Sec. 35-251(3) of the Chattanooga City Code states that a “pedicab driver shall not operate a pedal carriage or pedicab on any bridge or in any tunnel.”

That’s right, pedicabs can’t take passengers the 2,000 feet from downtown to North Shore. Pedicabs aren’t allowed on the Market Street bridge. They’re not even allowed on the Walnut Street pedestrian bridge. They can’t take visitors staying at the Delta Queen to the Chattanooga Aquarium. 

Larry Zehnder, administrator of the Chattanooga Parks and Recreation Department, advised the city council that having a “speedy motor vehicle [on the pedestrian bridge] could be a hazard.” 

In case you got lost there, the “speedy motor vehicle” to which Zehnder is referring is the pedicab.

Yes, really.

After dealing with the frustrating regulations placed on his business, the unwillingness of city leaders to allow him to serve customers on both sides of the river and difficulties in selling ads on the pedicabs, Thoreson decided yesterday to throw in the towel and close Buzz Chattanooga.

When asked what he’d tell another entrepreneur considering starting a business in Chattanooga, Thoreson replied, “Stay the hell away.”

Thoreson’s story is the hidden side of regulations that the city council and other bureaucrats rarely consider in their absurd exercises in trying to keep people safe and micromanage businesses. Too often, regulations stifle entrepreneurs’ ability to innovate, and prevent them from improving their businesses, serving more customers and, ultimately, making Chattanooga a better place.

I’m sure that the city council won’t lose one second of sleep about Buzz Chattanooga Pedicabs tonight. Yet it is the city’s regulations, and the actions of other city governments and our national government, which is the thousand-pound weight drowning such start-ups. And I don’t see the “You didn’t build that” crowd pounding their chests on TV, offering mea culpas for helping to destroy this man’s dream. No, the failure was the individual’s fault.

When someone defends Obama’s ludicrous “You didn’t build that” pap, you may wish to remind them of the old proverb: “Success has many fathers, while Failure is an orphan”.

That’d be a much more truthful description of government, IMHO….

Drowning in Regulations

***Editor’s Note: At least one of the Heads is now officially back from vacation, but I am just working my way through the news from the past week and …..it’s a bit overwhelming. Rather than just slap up a new post today, I’m going to re-post the one below, because: (A) It got lost in the shuffle a couple months ago when we were posting 5-6 times per day, and (B) It’s 100% appropriate, since we are currently in the middle of pool weather.

In fact, the beautiful, independently owned hotel where I stayed this past week would be one of the 85,000 hotels affected by the new regulations discussed below.

See you tomorrow.

—JTR

I think our Federal Government has truly lost its mind.

From ohsonline.com:

A new final rule from the Justice Department gives operators of existing pools and spas more time, until Jan. 31, 2013, to meet sections 242 and 1009 of the 2010 Americans with Disabilities Act Standards for Accessible Design. Those two sections say pools with 300 linear feet of pool wall or more must have two accessible means of entry (a pool lift or sloped entry) and smaller pools must have at least one, as well as what is required for these –- location, size of the seat, lifting capacity, etc.

This requirement has been controversial, as shown by the volume of 1,915 comments submitted to DOJ, and the agency previously proposed delaying the compliance date from March 15, 2012, to Sept. 17, 2012. January 2013 was chosen because some comments showed a significant misunderstanding of the requirements among pool owners and operators, according to the May 21 final rule.

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FLASHBACK: Dear #TSA, You’re Doing It Wrong…

The SCOTUS Obamacare decision from last week has monopolized the conversation ever since and, for today at least, I need to take a break. And there is something that is almost as important, just as frustrating and arguably more dangerous. It is, in my opinion, one of the worst agencies we’ve ever created: the Transportation Security Administration, or as it’s better known, the TSA.

When discussing Airport rules and what qualifies as the “new normal”, I admittedly become a bit nostalgic: It was wonderful having family accompany my wife and kids to the gate, then seeing them wave from the window (sounds crazy, doesn’t it?), and it was kinda nice to not be felt-up like I’m Andy Dufresne’s stunt double, too.

Ahhh, the good ol’ days……

But now? Now we have stories like this. From theindychannel.com:

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Drowning in Regulations

I think our federal government has truly lost its mind.

From ohsonline.com:

A new final rule from the Justice Department gives operators of existing pools and spas more time, until Jan. 31, 2013, to meet sections 242 and 1009 of the 2010 Americans with Disabilities Act Standards for Accessible Design. Those two sections say pools with 300 linear feet of pool wall or more must have two accessible means of entry (a pool lift or sloped entry) and smaller pools must have at least one, as well as what is required for these –- location, size of the seat, lifting capacity, etc.

This requirement has been controversial, as shown by the volume of 1,915 comments submitted to DOJ, and the agency previously proposed delaying the compliance date from March 15, 2012, to Sept. 17, 2012. January 2013 was chosen because some comments showed a significant misunderstanding of the requirements among pool owners and operators, according to the May 21 final rule.

Many owners and operators believed portable lifts would comply, but that’s not correct because ADA applies only to fixed and built-in elements, according to DOJ.

Let’s see: all public pools, hotels, and public/private pools need to install permanent lifts? And this is critical why exactly? Many of these pools just barely stay in business as it is, and this will hardly help matters. These lifts aren’t particularly cheap, after all.

From fredericksnewspost.com:

About 310,000 public pools nationwide could require a lift, Hatfield said. She estimated manufacturers can produce between 2,500 and 5,000 lifts per month as of May.

Lifts can cost between $3,500 and $6,500; installation may nearly double that cost.

Well, maybe people could simply ignore the new regs and just pay the fine?

Or maybe not:

Pools that failed to comply with the regulation would face a fine of at least  $100,000.

Good grief.

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Ok, I give up. The government must want to put half of the lifeguards, pool boys, swim instructors and even pool maintainance & chemical companies out of business. Hoteliers are going to get hit hard as they struggle in a moribund economy, since there are 85,000 lodging-operated swimming pools in the U.S.. Hotels also have an added concern: if they install a sloped entry rather than a lift, it will require extensive (and very expensive) renovation. If they install a lift (permanent only, remember), they will now have to employ a lifeguard there, since the fixed chair lifts present a safety hazard because of the likelihood that children will play on them:

“Most hotel pools don’t have lifeguards, so anybody can use [a permanent chair lift], climb on it and damage it,” said Kevin Maher, the AH&LA’s senior vice president for governmental affairs. “You’re essentially putting a diving board at the shallow end of the pool, and that’s a huge concern.”

Also, I notice that compliance with this regulation has conveniently been moved to after the election. Of course, that’s probably just a coincidence…….

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Obama’s America: making the country great, one idiotic, suffocating, mind-numbing, business-killing mandate at a time.