Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Hating regulations because they're regulations

I know that it is actually probably more complicated than it may first appear - the matter of what claddings are allowed to be used on high rise buildings.   I say this because I was reading the CSIRO's guide on the matter, produced in 2016, which can be found via this page.

Nonetheless, I find it difficult to not marvel at the stupidity of the libertarian response to the Grenfell fire, with people like Stoat (who is on the right side of climate change, but otherwise likes to take contrarian positions on various things) saying things like:
But buildings *are* very heavily regulated. They are not “deregulated”. This can just as easily be seen as a failure of the “regulate everything and all will be well” approach
And he cites Tim Worstall:
So, layer upon layer of intrusive regulation and government made this happen.
The solution is more layers of intrusive government and regulation. That’ll work, won’t it?
As someone says in response to Worstall:
I don’t know, but what do you suggest as an alternative? Fewer fire regulations? No fire regulations?
And someone back at Stoats writes:
Timmy’s argument is ludicrous: the Graun describes how the designers and builders failed to comply with the building regulation requirement that “the external envelope of a building should not provide a medium for fire spread”, and other factors contributed to the death toll. Timmy jumps to:
“So, layer upon layer of intrusive regulation and government made this happen.”
False as the regulations are not “layer upon layer”, they have repeatedly been revised, tested, and reexamined in relation to experience, as well as getting watered down by dogma against regulation.
Ludicrous as, by Timmy’s argument, regulations against murder make murders happen.
The other ludicrous line that some on the Right are running is that the building was only clad in flammable cladding because of Green/climate change regulations for insulation.    (Some have been trying to bring EU regulation into it too - which hardly makes any sense if it is true that Germany does not allow the use of this material on its buildings.) 

This was pretty quickly extensively fact checked and found to be the misleading furphy that one might expect it to be.  It seems that the Right has become so stupid as to not even want to admit that insulation on buildings is an inherently good thing for, you know, making a residence more comfortable to live in.   (The link notes how the Grenfell tower had windows that for safety reasons could not be opened far - making it hot in summer.  And I assume that any residence in London benefits from insulation in winter.) 

This is a case where common sense makes sense:   this is a problem of inadequate/poorly designed/poorly enforced regulation.   It's nonsense to take a line that it's due to over regulation.


Anonymous said...


Megan A was making the point that regulation has a cost and there are trade offs .

meanwhile the western left is applauding the theft of private homes.

McArdle was savaged on social media for these transparently reasonable sentiments; one particularly asinine Slate article was mockingly titled, “Would I Cross the Street to Spit on You If You Were on Fire? There’s Always a Trade-Off.” People don’t, it turns out, particularly appreciate the notion that safety is a trade-off; they particularly don’t appreciate hearing about the importance of such trade-offs in the aftermath of an unbearable tragedy. At times like these, people want to hear about requisitioning the empty houses of rich people, as Jeremy Corbyn suggested. They want to hear about greedy developers going to prison; they want politicians unseated. People want something to be done, even if that something doesn’t make much sense or will not be particularly helpful.

Anonymous said...

Last para should be in quotes

Steve said...

I assume you meant this to be a comment to the post actually about McArdle.

As for people "wanting something to be done": yes, exactly - because in a obvious and key repect - the use of cheaper, inflammable product that other countries have apparently banned - something regulatory deserves to be done!

Instead, McArdle chooses to write a column defending market risk analysis, concentrating on one issue - sprinklers, thereby ignoring the "market" (the contractor bidding to refurbish the building) chose and somehow got through regulatory bodies a dangerous cladding.

It's like libertarians hate government per se - but will rush to defend it when they fail, as long as they fail in a libertarian approved way.