Friday, August 22, 2008

A Bed Bug Task Force

Apparently another bed bug blogger was so moved by my last post that she decided to offer a one-word rebuttal.

Renee has had this campaign for a bed bug task force to be established in this city for a while. Unfortunately, she's waiting for the government to get around to it. For those of you familiar with Bugged Out, I've been chronicling an endless journey to nowhere as the City Council pretends to help New Yorkers. In January 2006 Councilwoman Gale Brewer introduced into the Council legislation that would ban the sale of reconditioned mattresses, ban new mattresses from being transported next to new ones and establish a Bed Bug Task Force. Long story short, the bill died in committee and is dead until further notice.

I feel that no matter how many times Councilwoman Brewer re-introduces her bed bug bill, it will meet the same fate. I responded to the post titled "Bugged Out Thinks We're Wasting Our Time" and suggested that Renee is not wasting her time by calling for a bed bug task force in New York City, she's just wasting her time if she's going to wait for the government to establish one. The City Council had two and a half years to get this going; it seems a bed bug task force would have to come from the private sector, in the form of a nonprofit organization.

I'd really like to discuss launching a nonprofit bed bug task force, but I have no idea what it takes to start a nonprofit organization, or specifically what social services could such an organization offer to those suffering from a bed bug infestation.

Any suggestions?

Monday, August 11, 2008

New Poll

Writing about government intervention in regards to bed bug infestations inspired me to launch a brand new poll on my side bar asking visitors if they've ever turned to the government for help with their bed bug problems, and if so, who in government did they turn to? Please participate in the polls. They're slightly more fun than putting on your socks and every week a randomly selected poll respondent will receive a permanent black marker with which to mark their recently discarded furniture as infested.

I personally have not contacted the government mostly because I have no faith in the government's ability to do anything well.

But for those who have slightly less pessimistic than I am in the belief that government is a necessary evil and have actually contacted government officials for help in this matter, what has the response been? If you wish to share you story on this blog entry, please indicate which government agency helped you in this matter and if you're not in the U.S., tell us which country you live in.


Saturday, August 09, 2008

Bad news for Bushwick...

Leave it to the Brooklyn Eagle to give readers in-depth coverage of the bed bug situation in Brooklyn. Unlike the Daily Snooze and other New York dailies, the Eagle doesn't have their covers plastered with the Yankees or Paris Hilton.

That's the only good news here. The bad news is that according to 311, Bushwick is the "bed bug capital of Brooklyn", logging 550 complaints of bed bug infestations from that neighborhood only in the first six months of 2008. Stay away from those benches in Bushwick Park!

The runners-up for the title are Flatbush, Midwood and Prospect Park South. Other honorable mentions include Brooklyn Heights, Downtown Brooklyn, and Boerum Hill with Mill Basin and Flatlands coming in dead last in number of bed bug infestation complaints.

The article also contains a few personal testimonies and a few basic tips I'm sure we're all familiar with by now. Pretty well-written and reported.

The article made me wonder how my own neighborhood ranked in regard to bed bug complaints so I Googled bed bug 311 complaints. As a result, I came across this interesting bed bug blog which featured 311 bed bug complaints for every neighborhood in New York. Actually, the areas are not categorized by our city's vague neighborhood boundaries but rather by Community Districts, which may encompass more than one neighborhood (you have to scroll down a bit to find the chart).

According to the chart, which only tracks up to June 19, 2008, Bushwick, with 550 complaints logged, is not only the bed bug capital of Brooklyn but of all five boroughs as well. The runners-up citywide are Washington Heights/Inwood (477 complaints), Flatbush/Ocean Parkway/Midwood (364), West Harlem/Morningside Heights/Manhattanville/Hamilton Heights (332), and Central Harlem (330). Given these statistics it's hard not to determine that the bed bug infestation in New York is concentrated in Brooklyn and upper Manhattan.

But I have to question the accuracy of 311 complaints as an indicator of which neighborhoods are have the highest rates of infestation because I don't think that most New Yorkers think to call 311 about a bed bug infestation. I certainly didn't call 311 about my problems, but that's only because I don't expect the government to do anything about it. But I've had a lot of people suggest I write my Congressman or my Councilman or my Senator. As if that will do anything.

Despite all of its most expensive efforts, the government can't keep people from getting high, it can't stop racism or sexism in the workplace, it can't prevent gun violence, it can't combat poverty, can't bring democracy to Iraq, can't keep illegal aliens out of this country, it can't keep jobs from going overseas, it can't teach children basic skills, it can't provide health insurance for everyone who needs it, it can't respond to emergencies in a timely fashion, it can't rebuild Ground Zero even after seven years, it can't provide adequate health care for its soldiers, it can't help people who are losing their homes, it can't balance the national deficit, it can't prevent terrorist attacks, it can't adequately equip its troops, it can't find Osama bin Laden, it can't rehabilitate criminals, it can't keep politicians from accepting lobbyist "gifts", it can't control who or what passes through its borders, it can't keep teenagers from having sex, it can't guarantee its citizens guaranteed Constitutional civil rights, it can't keep prostitutes off the streets, it can't put out a bunch of forest fires at once, it can't protect the public from trans fats or second-hand smoke, it can't lower gas prices, it can't figure out whether or not a foreign country has weapons of mass destruction, it can't adequately protect its own nuclear energy facilities from terrorist attack, it can't facilitate a remotely democratic electoral system, and it can't protect the environment.

Given all the ongoing and historic failures of government, why the hell would I ever think my government could do a thing about a bed bug infestation?

If anything, government may actually be the problem. Two words: DDT ban.