Last night, as I was trying to think of a way to discuss then new movement to do away with bothersome regulations, that hinder business, there happened to be a program on about just that kind of thing. It was almost exactly 100 years ago, on March 25, 1911, that a fire broke out in the Asch building in New York and started a fire that would become know as the Triangle Fire, and would kill 146 workers, most of them female. Max Blanck and Isaac Harris were in the Waist-shirt business and unhindered by most of today bothersome regulation that we have to suffer through today. The building was considered fireproof, so they did not bother to put in sprinkler, not required by law, instead placing pails of water around the floors. The codes, current at the time, did require three enclosed stairwells, to protect people trying to exit the building during a fire, but the architect was able to get permission to only put in two of the as the metal fire escape, which collapsed, would provide the third way down.
There was little, or no, oversight, about things, such as locked stair wells, oily floors, piles of cloth scattered around the floors, barrels of oil, emergency doors that open inward, hard to open when paniced people were pressing against them, or even access to the stair wells, there were boxes of cloth that piled around them, or any other thing that might require the expenditure of funds that drain money from their profit.
According to the show we saw last night, there was an elevator. It was an old type, manual, with an operator who was brave enough to help rescue almost 100 people from the floors. He did this until the elevator could no longer return to the upper floors due to the weight of bodies that piled up on the its top as people jumped through the open elevator doors, to land on the roof of the elevator. This weight eventually kept the elevator from being able to go back up.
Harris and Blanck are indicted and charged with six counts of manslaughter in the death of two of the 146 workers who died in the fire, though the defense was able to cast doubt on the testimony of witnesses, which resulted in finding of not guilty. Later they would be able to settle a civil case with the payment of $75 per death. This was a triumph for the insurance company as families of the victims would not be able to afford the cost of a complete investigation.
For more information on the Triangle Fire.
I am fairly sure that the deregulation will not come to the level of taking us back 100 years but, remember that it often took events such as these to get those regulations forced into place in the first place because that people like, Max Blanck and Isaac Harris, were more interested in profit than peoples lives.
That is just one aspect of this push to deregulate.. Something else to think about is this, think about jobs that have high training requirements, or just license, and what, for example, would happen if they were deregulated.
When you are flying, do you want to worry about how much training the pilot has, or if he has had enough sleep. Do we want to think about what might happen if an Air Traffic Controller is asleep on the job, as happened recently at Reagan Int. Airport, when two planes landed because there was only one snoring ATC employee in the tower?
There are hundreds of jobs, and bussiness, that require training and regulation. We hear enough stories about regulators asleep at the switch, think Bernie Madoff, or BP Deep Horizon, with out having to worry about those regulation being done away with in an effort to make jobs.