Sunday, July 13, 2008

A little object lesson regarding "oppressive government regulation."

Oppressive, bureaucratic, maddening, costly, time-consuming, over-complex, under-explained and often contradictory; government regulations cost business millions, if not billions every year in compliance.

It's a disgrace. It could be done much better, God knows. It makes one think fondly of "Drowning government in a bathtub."

At least, until you see the price of the alternative, and realize exactly what sort of event caused every single, separate annoyance to bear.
Talking Points Memo | Former KBR electricians criticize contractors work: "KBR Inc. used employees with little electrical expertise to supervise subcontractors in Iraq and hired foreigners who couldn't speak English to do the work, former KBR electricians told a Senate panel investigating the electrocutions of 13 Americans.

Experienced electricians who raised concerns about shoddy work and its possible hazards were often dismissed and told, 'This is a war zone,' the electricians said.

'Time and again we heard, `This is not the states, OSHA doesn't apply here. If you don't like it you can go home,'' said Debbie Crawford, a journeyman electrician with 30 years experience."
There's a maxim here. "If you will not govern your own actions, they will be governed for you."

For every such onerous workplace, zoning and safety issue, for every review process, for every impact statement, there is probably at least one major injury, death or long-term known deadly consequence that was concealed in order to "maximize shareholder value."

Think Asbestos - in cigarette filters!!! PCB. DDT. Think Bhopal. Consider Sudbury, Ontario, or Three Mile Island. Consider that every single Superfund site is the result of some bastard skating away, chuckling with glee about how he stuck someone with the cleanup costs.

It's just that damn simple. Instances like this are exactly why there are such onerous compliance requirements, usually to verify that yes, you have done exactly as anyone with a conscience, or at least a lick of sense would have.

Grounding an electrical system would be one of those things. One should not have to be confronted with the reality that such a thing was optional, if not actually required by law.

Well, here we are, and the point as to why there is such a morass of regulation is clearly do to the past actions of people like this. Wanna bet there's some significant overlap between regulations and companies who view workmanship, safety and worker's well-being to be avoidable overhead?

When such people flourish, regulation MUST proliferate.

So, before you bitch about regulation, consider how many dodgy characters and shady operations you know of in your line of work, and ask yourself why you haven't bothered to file a complaint. You do realize they are costing you money?

Oh, and respect.

Contractors, for instance, are not widely trusted. Perhaps more than lawyers or politicians. But not a great deal more.

Now, who's fault is that - when one of the world leaders in the field of contracting cannot be bothered to ground a water-heater if an inspector isn't on the site?

I know, honor, duty, respect, ethics, common sense, pride in workmanship, those are SO pre- 9/11.

Individual Responsibility is such a mantra for the Neocon Right - but what that means in practice is when they stick YOU with the check, you are responsible.

The cure for this ill is simple. Never, ever, EVER do business with those who take less pride in their work than you. Never deal with anyone less honest and less reliable. And make sure that you spread the word about it - because people like this, well, they have operated as they have for as long as they have because we allow them to get away with it.

But that presumption is SO pre-web 2.0, ain't it?

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