Can regulations sometimes make us LESS safe?
When Alan Greenspan spoke out against building codes, he
knew perfectly well what a lack of adequate building and fire codes
would mean. Fifteen years before his birth, 146 people, mostly young
women, were burned alive or leaped to their death from the fire at the
Triangle Waist Factory just east of Washington Square Park in New York
City. There was no requirement for employers to provide a safe
workplace, so none was provided. Triangle’s owners crammed their
employees into crowded workspaces without proper exits, and inadequate
fire codes meant that the fire stairways were insufficient. The result
was that dozens of workers’ corpses piled on the sidewalk on March 25,
1911. Anywhere in the world where building codes are inadequate or
absent, the result is always the same: Dead people.
Excuse me, Mr. Weiss, but did you truly read the article?
Greenspan clearly showed what building and fire codes have brought us.
He didn’t even talk about the building that an inspector wouldn’t let
someone build, because that building, while it might be safe enough,
wasn’t “up to code.” Instead, Greenspan talked about the developer, the
architect, and the contractor who cares only about “building to code” and cares nothing about building better than “to code.”
Here is how the Ayn Rand world works—and indeed how the real
world works. Any business operator, or professional, must build a
reputation to get clients. That is how he makes people trust him. What
developer would hire an architect who designed a building that would
burn up under an electric load that the people in the building might put
on it? Who would live, work, or shop in such a building? Building that
kind of trust takes time. And once someone has that trust, he can lose it with one mistake. In the Ayn Rand world, that kind of trust would be all
that architect (or that developer) had. Lose that, and you cannot
excuse yourself by saying, “But I built it up to code!” What code? The
best code in the world is: your word is your bond. That includes words
that go without saying. Like, “My buildings don’t burn.” And a fully
free market would simply not forgive someone who said that a building
would not burn, when it did.
But in the world where governments regulate everything, the same
rules that governments make and enforce become crutches. People work
barely well enough to satisfy the rules. But what if the rules aren’t enough?
Too bad. The hapless person who suffered bad burns in the fire, or more
likely those who survive him, have no case. As long as the architect
and the contractors worked “up to code,” the law often can’t touch them.
Things get worse when the people whom the government sends to inspect
a new project, take bribes to sign off on a project when it isn’t “up to code.” If those who work for Underwriters’ Laboratories
took bribes like that, UL wouldn’t stay in business for very long.
Private inspectors also have their reputations to build and keep.
Government inspectors don’t. Indeed, government inspectors already have a reputation for taking bribes, or simply “shaking down” developers whose buildings are up to code after all. So who can really tell how safe anything is?
To read more, including two chilling hypotheticals, click through to the article.
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