Apparently, quite a few people thought my piece on comment spam was disrespectful to Milton Friedman… which kind of surprised me because I didn’t really think the post was about Milton Friedman. It was about comment spam, and those free market ideologues who would oppose nearly all government regulation. (And who happen to look to Friedman as some sort of hero, whether they’ve actually read him or not.)
In any case, I’m guessing the free market folk might be displeased as well by the following editorial in Tuesday’s Seattle P-I:
In all the shock surrounding the Bellevue crane collapse, there’s one aspect for lawmakers to remember. The public seemed deeply surprised that no special effort is made to oversee the huge equipment that daily operates above construction sites and nearby traffic, pedestrians and office and housing complexes.
[…] With construction booming, the region is seeing more cranes. But the state has no license for crane operators and no training or testing requirements. A group formed to improve standards statewide in the aftermath of a 1994 accident at the Kingdome fell into inactivity.
[…] State certification of crane operators ought to be enacted quickly. With so many construction projects under way, the public deserves reassurance the state is exercising serious oversight, not waiting for more deadly surprises.
I’m curious to hear the arguments against inspections and certification of construction cranes, but my knee-jerk reaction is to come out in support of such legislation, if only to piss off the BIAW.
The Seattle Times chimes in:
Self-regulation is perfectly adequate if the public is willing to accept the risk, or, if not, the concentric rings of expense if tougher governmental requirements are imposed.
[…] Beyond the ultimate lessons learned from this fatal accident, the Legislature might wonder if exhaustive investigations after the fact are sufficient.
That’s a reasonable analysis. Regulations cost money, and society needs to make a cost benefit analysis of whether the money saved (by industry and/or taxpayers) in not requiring licensing and inspection is worth the risk of having a giant crane fall on your head.