Saturday, March 6, 2010

When Government regulation saves lives

image courtesy of Truth Dig

The conservatives, free marketers and corporate types constantly talk about the "dead weight of government regulation".

They like to blame government regulation for just about everything- stifling the entrepreneurial spirit, limiting profits, imposing unnecessary costs on corporations and business, and restricting freedom. They even blamed government regulation for the 2008-2009 economic tsunami that reaked havoc worldwide, even though it was the lack of financial and economic regulation that was the primary cause of the collapse.

But government regulation saves lives. This is one of the lessons of the recent Chilean earthquake where strict regulation of building codes and standards prevented massive loss of life. The tragic loss of 800 Chilean lives could have been much worse if not for the strict building codes introduced by the democratically elected socialist Allende government* in 1972.

As Joe Conason points out the Chilean earthquake was 500 more times powerful than the Haiti earthquake where over 200, 000 lives were lost and building regulations non-existent. The difference was that the Allende government and democratic governments elected in Chile after the Pinochet military dictatorship demanded that every building use a strong column structure to ensure it remained standing after earthquakes.

* I have written previously about the violent overthrow in 1973 of the democratically elected Allende government by elements of the military and US Government, military, intelligence and corporate authorities

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