Tags: private enterprise | state | rules | law | libertarian

Bowing to the Rules — Or Else

Bowing to the Rules — Or Else

Friday, 23 February 2018 12:17 PM Current | Bio | Archive

Follow as if you are a camera’s eye (apologies to John Dos Passos) as a young couple, their 4-month son, and the baby’s Grandparents (me and Grandma Terry) enter the nearly empty restaurant on San Vincente in Brentwood, a section of Los Angeles, California, for their 5:30 p.m. dinner reservation.

The sleeping baby and the fully awake adults are led to their roundish table, the only one without a tablecloth, and handed the menus and asked as they sit down if they would like sparkling, still, or tap water. They make their water selections and order a bottle of wine and one cocktail and the waiter leaves to fill their requests.

They talk of how much fun the trip has been as the waiter returns with the water.

Before the waiter brings the wine and the cocktail, he asks if they are ready to order. They say in a polite way “No.”

The waiter leaves and returns with the wine and the cocktail and he opens the bottle and pours it.

The Grandfather has in the meantime looked at the menu and marvels once again that yet another restaurant is charging for bread. A nominal charge of a few bucks, but a charge nevertheless. Perhaps there to discourage waste or could be the bread employs some artisanal use of grains that demands a slight markup.

The Grandfather asks the waiter to bring some bread figuring you only live once.

The waiter says, “We do not bring bread to the table while the menus are still on the table.” He issues this dictum in a gentle but royal way that suggests no exception can be made to this ironclad rule, the separation of bread and menus.

Perhaps, the Grandfather thinks, they don’t want any crumbs or olive oil or butter to sully the menus.

Or the objective is to get the customers ordering and eating and going so as to achieve a profitable turnover.

The camera would like to report that the four adults and the baby left for a table at a Chinese restaurant where they would be assured of no bread charge or bread for that matter, but (alas) they ordered anyway, got their food, the check, and the bread which was decidedly mediocre, almost stale or at least to be fair, merely day-old.

The Grandfather thought back to his very early days when he was of full libertarian bent and remembered a distinction he made: that the difference between the rules of the state and the rules of private establishments was that you always had a choice with the latter of “getting up and leaving.” But with the former, there were always deeper consequences.

He thought too that in the 1960s if you wanted to see what life was like in a socialist republic, you only had to make a visit to the New York Motor Vehicle Bureau. For sure, you would be on the wrong line, filled out the wrong form, been of the wrong county, the wrong age. And then you would be moved to another wrong line, given a different wrong form but be there long enough waiting possibly to reach the right age.

I am told the Motor Vehicle Bureau has improved and I fully attribute it to the fall of the Berlin Wall.

As for the restaurant, the camera returns to the table and the Grandmother asks if they can pack the rest of the fish to take home.

“Of course,” the waiter says.

And the Grandfather makes his request.

“And could you wrap the bread up too in a nice doggie bag?”

Tom Messner worked forever in advertising. In politics, he avoided the predictable negative bent and did positive ads for Reagan in ’84 and for Bush in ’88 along with Bush’s convention film. The agency he co-founded created NASDAQ’s first branding, Volvo’s comeback, and Fox News’s “We report. You Decide.” Then learning from the pols he partnered with (Roger Ailes in particular), they brought attack ads to such formerly benign areas such as telecom (MCI). At 73, he’s doing two things he never did before: Blogging here on wildly unconnected subjects coming on the heels of last year’s adventure: the writing of his first play, a musical “Dogs” destined now for either Broadway or The Pound. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.

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I am told the Motor Vehicle Bureau has improved and I fully attribute it to the fall of the Berlin Wall.
private enterprise, state, rules, law, libertarian
Friday, 23 February 2018 12:17 PM
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