Sunday, June 25, 2023

Robert MacCulloch: The Titanic Submarine causes a Global Health & Safety Fight to Erupt - It is of Great Relevance to NZ

One of the planks of National & ACT's touted differences with Labour in terms of election policies is cutting "red-tape". Ironically, National introduced more red-tape than ever when last in government, including sweeping health & safety laws, regards which John Key once belittled my suggestion of subjecting them to a formal cost-benefit analysis.

What's the problem economists have with too much regulation? It can stifle innovation & long-term prosperity, hurting people way more than protecting them from injury right now.

In the aftermath of the implosion of the submarine taking tourists to visit the Titanic, a global row has broken out related to the above issue. Some folks are mocking the billionaires who died. Others are calling for more stringent regulation. The Daily Mail reports, "Mikaela Straus, a 24-year-old singer, whose great-great-grand parents, Isidor & Ida Straus, died onboard Titanic, has been slammed for laughing on TikTok in a video mocking the victims". She said in a now deleted post, "So now these people are like, "Oh, I have so much money, I just want to go to the inhabitable depths of the ocean in a GameCube?" No. Dead. Sorry .. The sheer irony of these billionaires going down to visit the gravesite of other billionaires & then dying, is so crazy to me'. Mullaney's ancestors were amongst the wealthiest people on Titanic - they were German-Jewish immigrants to America & owners of Macy's Department Stores. Meanwhile the Washington Post says, "The catastrophic implosion that killed all five people aboard a submersible vessel is likely to intensify calls for stronger regulations and oversight of an industry that has long operated in a legal gray area, experts say".

Why can't people be free to do what they willingly want to do, if they know the risks before? Let the rest of the world regulate the fun and excitement and adventure out of life. Former United Kingdom PM Boris Johnson is all on for such risk-taking, arguing it should define his country. He quotes the immortal words of Captain Scott, just before he died from the Antarctic cold: ‘We took risks, we knew we took them; things have come out against us, and therefore we have no cause for complaint...’

As Brexit Britain is still mired in red-tape and regulation as it simply shadows EU rules, Boris's dream of a low-regulation country looks lost. It is Kiwis who should be positioning NZ to embrace risk-taking & creativity, even when it can lead to things turning against us, in the name of innovation & prosperity & pushing the frontiers of knowledge. Our adventure tourism industry that began in Queenstown was built on risk-taking and Hillary would never have climbed Everest had he been scared of risk. We must throw off the shackles of our choking rules & regulations, exacerbated by Labour's nanny state approach to everything since the pandemic. That approach is not consistent with our history & culture.


Professor Robert MacCulloch holds the Matthew S. Abel Chair of Macroeconomics at Auckland University. He has previously worked at the Reserve Bank, Oxford University, and the London School of Economics. He runs the blog Down to Earth Kiwi from where this article was sourced.


Robert Arthur said...

I have had too much experience of unanticipated consequencs of one off jobs, and read too much about early production aircraft etc to ever chance such a device.
Rashness would seem to be the road to success for many business persons. Gain of skiting ego points seems also to be a major motivation. But totally beyond comprehension was the billionaire who took his son with him (unless he has very many)
Many of our rules are absurd. Scaffolding in particualr. Possibly, after allowing for scaffolder injuries, a few stoned workers are prevented from falling and some reduction of ACC acheived. But homeowners incur vast increased maintemance costs. The expense triggers the premature scrapping of many prctical homes.It is ridiculous that scffolding is required for low pitch high grip textured roofs. The problem is regulatory employment is very secure with scope for expansion so many clamour for.

Anonymous said...

We will see what the inquiry throws up but the appearance is the operator/CEO accepted the risks and for whatever reason his reasoning may have been on this occasion incorrect. It appears he was not encumbered or distracted by the advice of experts or the rules of certifying authorities. The snag with this is he had fare-paying passengers who may have paid the price for the operator/CEO's risk calculations and acceptance without having a good idea what they were taking on thereby arguably invalidating the waivers they reportedly signed. The costly searchers and other tidy-upperers including grieving families didn't / don't have a choice in bearing the cost of the actual risk budget and lethal consequences borne. They now require answers. As do other (so far safe) operators.
The imposition of ineffective "red tape" risk mitigation imposed by indirectly involved and remote bureaucrats is another hazard of misapplied risk management process. I suggest the answer to that problem is not to do away with appropriate management of risk nor is it right to imply the Sir Edmond didn't do careful risk management.
cris george

Anonymous said...

National is great at creating red tape - the Antimoney laundering law is a prime example. What a dumb-arse law that is. Whenever I instruct my lawyer of some 30 years to transact a property transaction he requires my ID including a utility bill no more than 6 months old showing my residential address. Presumably, National thought he needs to be assured that I still am who I say I am and have not changed being who I am in the last 30 years. This was an Amy Adams (airhead!) fiasco, not long before her involvement with the Muller (soft-cock!)leadership fiasco.

And it can add the disastrous Foreshore and Seabed legislation to that list - that was a Chris Finlayson (pompous twit) fiasco.

Oh and the UNDRIP (the UN indigenous declaration) commitment that John Key signed us up to (dickhead!).

National should not just say it wants to reduce red tape, it should say what it is going to repeal, and it can start with legislation introduced by its predecessors.

Anonymous said...

there is no freedom without being free to do dumb things... and suffer the consequences :)