Thursday, March 17, 2011

Three cheers for government being in the way

One of the current mantras is to get government out of the way of business.  There are many reasons that a government of the people should be in the way of business, but I'll save that for another day.

One of the ways that government should be in the way of business is with building codes.  If every builder of houses or of skyscrapers did it their own way, would you feel secure walking into any building?  Although most build sturdy, safe buildings, there are some who will cut corners to save a few bucks.  It is government that works to check up on these corner cutters.

What would have happened in Tokyo if many of the large buildings were not built to government standards?  What would the toll in lives have been if contractors had cut corners?  What would the toll have been if government inspectors hadn't checked on standards being met?

You don't need to live in earthquake zones to be concerned with building safety.  What if you put lots of money into the structural integrity of your building but your neighbor didn't.  Comes the hurricane or the tornado and his building tumbles into yours.

Many think zoning codes are anti-business, but they can be pro-business.  What if you put up a nice hotel and a junk yard is put in next door.  How much business would the junk yard deter?

Many who want zoning codes changed from residential to commercial wouldn't appreciate the same changes in their own neighborhood.  Maybe any developer who wants to change a residential neighborhood should be willing to have a similar change made in his own neighborhood.

Getting government out of the way of business is one of those notions that you should be careful what you ask for.