Friday, 25 March 2011

Down with government regulation!

I don’t understand why the new Republican majority in the House of Representatives didn’t wait a few weeks to change the name of the Committee on Education and Labor to the Committee on Education and the Workforce [which they actually did--no joke]. After all, wouldn’t it have been a fitting tribute to the 147 members of the ‘workforce’ who died in the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire [above] exactly 100 years ago today?

I guess the idea that members of the ‘workforce’ actually form part of a social sector called ‘labor’ is anathema to the Tea Party-inspired team, along with anything called ‘regulation’. Just two weeks ago we in New York saw a good example of what our world would look like if all those nasty, government-run regulatory bodies just went away once and for all. Something like this:
That’s the scene of a casino-bound tour bus that jackknifed into a signpost and was cut in two on March 11, killing 14. The investigation continues, but some witnesses said the driver was falling asleep. One survivor described the scene this way: ‘People were decapitated. You couldn’t make a horror film that was nearly this bad’.

After the deadly incident, New York State inspectors set out to spot check the vehicles that ply the highways around our city, many of them very cheap, seat-of-the-pants operations that suggest what life is like in China where the rules are basically whatever the powerful cliques say they are that day.

The Transportation Department’s inspectors stopped 14 buses in their random review, and took every one of them out of service for safety violations. Our Tea Party friends would undoubtedly prefer to ride in buses not subjected to this sort of intrusive, Big Government, Obama-inspired Nazi-Fascism. As long as they’re well equipped with Glock sidearms and an assault rifle or two, why would bus riders need any old damn gubmint snoopers around?

It’s been 100 years since those 147 sweatshop seamstresses perished because they couldn’t escape the flames. That crystallized for many the idea that workplaces (where the ‘workforce’ works) might need some rules governing safety and health. Those rules might even need someone empowered to enforce them, and that would be the job of, um, say, like, the government?

But now that the government is the big enemy of Virtue (along with teachers and civil servants), we can look forward to a time when buses will go careening off the road any old time of day, and no one will be able to do jack shit about it. What a wonderful, constitutionally-pure time that will be!


Dave said...

It is true that the mood in about half of our country is biased toward somewhat less government regulation. To say it would follow that a wholesale revocation of oversight is underway would be disingenuous. Safe water, air, cars, elevators, and the like are a natural place for regulation. Many lives have been lost by
the lack of concern for public safety. It does not follow that a reevaluation of the present systems is an assault on these systems. I sit on a standards board commissioned specifically to improve the safety and
usability of the systems we are charged with. To conclude a change going forward is inspired by motives less than honorable seems far from reality. Our national Fire, Building, and Electrical Codes have now been promulgated into international standards. The people all across the world share the common concern for safety. When a plane, train, bus, or ship is involved in an incident, hordes of investigators work to discover
the cause so that systemic defects can be addressed. The process of oversight carries over even in our
private lives, for example, can our grand-kids get into things they are not yet ready to encounter. At that level, the oversight is the responsibility of a mature adult. Maybe some of the banter about is just a desire to move to less government regulation and a shift to more personal responsibility. The motorcycle rider may very well decide not to use a helmet, the question follows, what level of intervention, in the name of safety, are the people willing to
accept. Is this not where we are? Are not these the questions needing answered? A kind of cost/benefit analysis that
may not leave everyone free to do whatever, but will not be so oppressive as to undermine faith in all regulation.

Hope said...

You missed a great source of wonderful new ideas for this post. The Frum Forum ran what it thought was a sort of humorous piece on a South Dakota (I think) legislator who introduced a bill repealing the requirement for landlords to install carbon monoxide monitors.....then the comments started piling up in huge, angry numbers. So, someone did an analysis of their rationales. Don't know how to post the link, but if you go to and search for carbon monoxide, the original story plus the categorization of responses will follow...