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.

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