Individual Freedom in a Democratic Society -
The following is an example of individual acts of economic activity which point to a social contradiction.
Notice how Autozone is not hiring these mechanics, as there is no incentive to do so. The mechanics are of a community with up to 35% unemployment among men within Oakland. They have an incentive to work.
The difference faced by a customer between permitted economic activity and un-permitted economic activity is that with the permits, there is the privilege of trust that the work will be guaranteed and in accordance with the regulations governing the work, while with un-permitted work, there is no guarantee, legal recourse, or regulations. It is the individual choice of the customer to decide who they would employ (in accordance with Human Rights regarding worker's freedoms).
"Illicit auto shop in Oakland parking lot has fans, critics"
2014-05-28 from "San Francisco Chronicle" [http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Illicit-auto-shop-in-Oakland-parking-lot-has-5511454.php]:
A mechanic named Solo Bolo (left) talks with a customer named Rene Roche about her air conditioning problem Wednesday April 30, 2014 in Oakland, Calif. His tools are in the foreground. A group of automobile mechanics work in the parking lot of the AutoZone at Bancroft and 73rd Avenue are doing various repairs for a fraction of the cost of a real-live certified mechanic. Photo: Brant Ward, The Chronicle
It's a sweltering day in East Oakland, and Rene Roche pulls her '99 Chrysler Concorde sedan into the parking lot of an auto parts store at Eastmont Town Center.
Her air conditioner has conked out, and she doesn't have the hundreds of dollars she fears it would cost to pay an auto mechanic to replace a tube and reload the Freon. So she turns to a stranger in the parking lot who's fixing cars outside the AutoZone store.
"Can you help me?" says Roche to the man, gesturing at the $60 bottle of Freon she has just bought.
The man - who calls himself Solo Bolo, street slang for a lone wolf - grabs his rolling attache bag of wrenches, spark plugs and screwdrivers, walks over to her car, pops the hood, and starts working. The cost for labor? $20.
On almost any day but Sunday, either Bolo or a crew of three or four other men are working under the hoods of cars, vans and trucks in the parking lot at 73rd and Bancroft avenues. Drivers buy the parts at the AutoZone, and for a few bucks get their oil tank topped off, fuses changed or taillight replaced.
For a few more bucks, a motorist can get a new water pump, a timing belt or an oil change. If things get really serious, motorists drive to a secluded spot where their cars can be jacked up for brake replacements or transmission work.
"I can do anything," says George, a man in his 40s who said he has been fixing cars on the black market for 14 years. "Change out heads, your alternator, fuel tanks."
The men consider themselves entrepreneurs, hustling to make ends meet in a part of Oakland where the unemployment rate for young people is roughly 35 percent.
But the city and neighbors see them as a nuisance.
Desley Brooks, the city councilwoman who represents the area, said she is working with police, AutoZone and the owners of the Eastmont Town Center to put an end to the parking lot repairs.
"There is no quality control with respect to the services they are providing," Brooks said. "And I would venture to say that we are not getting any tax revenues from what they are providing."
Almost since the AutoZone opened in 2005, mechanics have been hustling in the area, Brooks said.
"It appears that this activity isn't taking place at any other AutoZone in the city," Brooks said. "It looks like a hangout spot as opposed to a place that welcomes members of the community."
State law requires that mechanics doing commercial work have licenses - and while it isn't uncommon for car owners to get friends and acquaintances to fix their cars in garages or outside homes, it's unusual for a black market to be so out in the open. Violation of the law carries a $5,000 administrative fine or up to six months in jail.
In March, the City Council voted to paint the curbs near the store red, so the men couldn't jack up cars on the street.
Bolo, George and the others moved to the parking lot.
Now, spots in the parking lot are grimy with grease. A few empty oil bottles sit in the bushes. When there aren't cars to work on, the group hangs out, jabbering and smoking cigarettes.
Ray Pohlman, a spokesman for AutoZone, said store employees cannot stop people from working on cars in the parking lot.
"We have complied with all of the regulations that the city of Oakland asked us to do," Pohlman said.
Bolo, 31, said he learned to fix cars at WyoTech, a mechanic school. Sometimes his day starts around 8:00 a.m., when the store opens, and ends around 9:30 p.m., a little before the store closes. On good days, Bolo said, he makes $500.
Ken Hoskins, 49, of East Oakland, has brought a couple of his cars by the parking lot for repairs
"They take care of their car like it was theirs," Hoskins said as Bolo replaced a burned-out taillight bulb. "The mechanics at the shop, they'll be jacking you, making you spend more and more money. I'd rather come help these brothers, they're trying to feed their family, doing what they gotta do to survive."