Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Even After Tragedy of Fire and Death in Texas, State Rejects Regulation

What’s A Few Lives (Someone Else's Of Course) Compared to Principles

The lack of effective regulation was clearly a factor in the horrendous explosion in West, Texas, an industrial accident that killed people and destroyed a town.  But in Texas no amount of death and destruction will cause the citizens to turn away from their hatred of effective government regulation, regulation that prevents devastation such as the tragedy in West.

Adrees Latif/Reuters
The explosion in April of a fertilizer plant near West, Tex., was so powerful that it registered as a 2.1-magnitude earthquake. McLennan, the county that includes West, has no fire code.

Even in West, last month’s devastating blast did little to shake local skepticism of government regulations. Tommy Muska, the mayor, echoed Governor Perry in the view that tougher zoning or fire safety rules would not have saved his town. “Monday morning quarterbacking,” he said.

Raymond J. Snokhous, a retired lawyer in West who lost two cousins — brothers who were volunteer firefighters — in the explosion, said, “There has been nobody saying anything about more regulations.”

Texas has always prided itself on its free-market posture. It is the only state that does not require companies to contribute to workers’ compensation coverage. It boasts the largest city in the country, Houston, with no zoning laws. It does not have a state fire code, and it prohibits smaller counties from having such codes. Some Texas counties even cite the lack of local fire codes as a reason for companies to move there.

So yes Texas is a great business success, and the people whose lives are damaged or destroyed, well that’s a small price to pay for creating the kind of business climate where companies move to a location because they don’t have a fire code.

1 comment:

  1. Fire and death due to under-regulation are bad, but they do not compare to a real tragedy, like the IRS holding up 501(c)(4) approvals for Tea Party groups.